Archive for the 'Big Green Egg' Category

Upgrading the Big Green Egg & Replacing the Gasket; High-Que.com’s Gasket & Fire Grate

Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Nearly 5 years ago, I wrote a post all about the details of owning a Big Green Egg. Quite popular, but it needs to be updated as I’ve learned much since then. This is the first in what’ll likely be a series of articles outlining some upgrades and details of Big Green Egg ownership.

BGE Upgrade Kit; New Gasket & FIre Grate
High-Que’s Upgraded Fire Grate & Gasket.

There are two common complaints that I’ve heard from many Big Green Egg owners. The first is that, after years of ownership, it is harder and harder to get the egg past ~350 degrees or so (500 – 750 needed to do proper sears or cook a pizza). In particular, the fire grate included with the BGE is a big metal plate with a bunch of ~3/4″ holes drilled in it. It just doesn’t let a lot of air through to start with and, after years of use, any kind of ash build up and/or clogging of the holes in the ceramic firebox leads to even less air getting through.

Related, for those that do achieve high heat on a semi-regular basis, the factory installed woolen gasket quickly wears out.

Fortunately, there exists High-Que.com who specializes in upgraded components for the Big Green Egg. Pictured at left is their upgraded fire grate and their Nomex based high-heat replacement gasket.

For BGE owners, I cannot recommend these two products highly enough. Gasket upgrades have been around for quite a while, but most involved spray adhesive or fireplace-safe adhesive combined with a gasket that would often fray, leaving the risk of metal bits in your food (most of the gaskets were really re-purposed oven or kiln gaskets). High-Que’s gaskets are more like the original BGE gasket in physical design, but are much more durable and can withstand a higher heat. Like the original gasket, High-Que’s uses a high-heat adhesive backing that is exposed by removing a bit of paper; no toxic spray-on adhesives involved.

High-Que’s fire grate is equally as well considered & built. It is a very heavy gauge stainless steel grate that will not clog and allows for much greater air flow. As it comes with a 5 year warranty, clearly High-Que believes the product works.

Venison/Beef Burgers
Venison/Beef Burgers Seared Beautifully.

And it does. The combination of the two products has vastly improved the cooking experience with my BGE; it is easier to light, achieves a higher temperature faster (literally, takes about 12-15 minutes to reach ~600 degrees whereas I had a hard time cracking 400 without a fan before the upgrade), and the gasket looks like it is going to last much longer than the BGE wool gaskets (I won’t know for sure for another ~6 months or so).

And there was a fringe benefit that was a nice surprise; every BGE owner who has cooked at high heat has learned through quite a bit of hair loss that you have to “burp” your egg when opening it at temperatures greater than ~500. If you don’t, this rather ominously beautiful cloud of flames (seriously — check out this set o’ photos!!) will burst out of the egg and take all your arm hair right off!

With the increased air flow of the High-Que grate, the Egg doesn’t exhibit anywhere near the same degree of flashback as long as the bottom vent is wide open. What a nice surprise! To be clear, the egg will still flashback if the bottom vent is closed or if you open too rapidly at high heat, but the problem is vastly reduced!



Replacing the gasket is a bit of a chore. Click through for full details. Since the Egg needs to come apart for this anyway, a full cleaning is in order, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Smoked Tomato/Garlic/Basil/Eggplant Sauce

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Update: Just made this again with the final tomatoes of the season. Refined the recipe a bit and produced a sauce that is pretty close to perfect. The tomato intensity is kicked up several notches with the rest of the spices adding a subtle kick.

Some recipe as below, but:

  • Nearly double the number of tomatoes. Ended up with three layers and filled in the gaps with cherry and pear tomatoes.
  • Put the basil and garlic only on the first layer. Half the amount of garlic. Do not mince the basil leaves. Pile tomatoes on top.
  • Sprinkle with Italian Seasoning instead of crushed Thyme and considerably less dry spice than before.
  • Cook for about 2.5 hours at about 220 – 270 degrees.

Smoked Tomato Sauce Post Food Mill

That’s right, smoked tomato sauce.

As we are in the midst of a kitchen remodel, we have no oven. Or, I should say, we (and by “we”, I mean “I”) are using some combination of the Big Green Egg and the Cobb to do our baking and baking-like cooking.

Coincidentally, my community garden plot is producing Tons of Tomatoes. That is about it. Everything else this year has been a failure due to weird plant mojo and neglect. But tomatoes? I got em!

In any case, if you want to make a tangy, slightly smoky, incredibly tasty tomato sauce, it is quite easy! No need for a Big Green Egg, either, as this sauce could be made quite easily on a gas grill, in an oven, on a charcoal grill, or in anything else that can hold a temperature between 300 and 400 degrees for a couple of hours.


Update:

n[ate]vw asked about “off flavors”:

Could you elaborate a bit on tomatoes getting “roasted such that the heat totally changes the flavor”? When we’ve made tomato soup and spaghetti sauce, they’ve both ended up with an unexpected “off” flavor from what we’re used to — hard to describe, but it’s almost like the sauce is too fresh or something. Could this have something to do with the cooking temperature? Or would it have more to do with things like the tomato variety, us blending the skins and seeds together, or that we don’t pump HFCS into our mix like the store bought stuff?

The sauce had no off flavor, but I know what you are talking about. The food mill I used prevented almost all skin and seeds from making it into the sauce. I could easily imagine that pulverizing the seeds could quite distinctly change the flavor and in potentially unfavorable ways.

As I’m interested in this subject, I did a bit of research and found that tomatoes are exquisitely complex little beasties. They have dozens and dozens of uniquely identifiable organic compounds that contribute to the flavor, texture, aromatics, and cooking qualities of the fruit.

In particular, it seems that storage temperature can grossly impact tomato flavor. Specifically, cold storage — in the fridge — for any length of time can radically change the flavor, and not necessarily for the better!

Of the numerous articles I found, this one was particularly informative.

Given the acidity of tomatoes, I would also recommend avoiding cooking in aluminum or reactive metals. I could only get away with cast iron because the wok is both well seasoned, providing a layer of oil as a seal, and I was cooking a relatively large volume for the surface area involved. But, still, there was a hint of iron flavor in the final sauce — nothing unpleasant as cast iron is a relatively non-offensive metal — but it would be really bad with aluminum or other reactive metal.


Read on for details!


Read the rest of this entry »

Easy Baked/Grilled Chile Rellenos

Sunday, September 7th, 2008
Andy Stone's New Mexican Green Chiles

When we arrived home yesterday, there was a generic USPS flat rate large box. As I wasn’t expecting a package, I had no clue what it might be.

Within about 5 yards of the door, I knew exactly what it was. There was this delicious, sharp, fresh, slightly spicy smell in the air.

Could it be?

Yup — it was a box full of fresh New Mexican Chile Peppers from Andrew Stone. Awesome. Brought back vivid memories of the summer (1992 or so) some friends and I lived with Andrew and worked on Stone Studio (now Stone Works). We lived on black beans, chile peppers, eggs, goat cheese, and fresh baked bread, mountain biking in the Rio Grande river valley every day. Good times.

Chile peppers are a celebration in New Mexico every bit as much as Garlic is a phenomenon in Northern California. And late summer is chile pepper season. Slashfood has a good summary of the chile pepper scene.

And, of course, with fresh chiles at hand, it was obviously time to make Chile Rellenos!


Read the rest of this entry »

Rosemary Smoked, Garlic Infused, Leg of Lamb

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007
Rosemary Smoked, Garlic Infused, Leg of Lamb with a Side of Mint Jelly & Sesame Roasted Aspargus

While in Missouri, My mom taught me a neat trick for stuffing garlic (or other chunky spices) deep into a piece of meat. We made a roast leg of lamb on Dad’s new Big Green Egg and it was delicious.

Upon my return home, I decided to recreate the magic, so to speak.

Pictured at left is the result. Rare, garlic infused, leg of lamb. Smoked over big chunks of rosemary wood, which is evident by the beautiful red smoky color of the end piece on the far left.

I paired it with a bit of mint jelly (of course!) and some baked aspargus that had been tossed with salt, pepper, and sesame oil.

Delicious. Click on through for pics/instructions on jamming the garlic yumminess into the meat.

Read the rest of this entry »

Medium Big Green Egg

Sunday, October 21st, 2007
Medium BGE

Last Wednesday, Dad and I went out and bought Dad a medium Big Green Egg.

Since then, I have cooked (while teaching Dad how to use the egg):

  • Lamb chops — basic chops
  • Beer butt chicken — rub on the outside, stuffed with spices under the skin. Juicy and delicious.
  • London Broil — Salt, pepper, and oil rub. Took it to an internal temp of about 135 and tented it for 10 minutes. End result was perfect medium rare london broil.
  • Salmon — covered it with dill, a touch of dried peppers, and thin slices of orange with the skin side heavily salted. Cooked to an internal temp of 135. Excellent.

Next up? We might try a pie or baking some bread. Dad picked up a plate setter which, when reversed, makes an excellent surface for cooking pizzas, breads, and pies.

Of course, we picked up a probe thermometer to go with the BGE. It appears that Taylor has largely moved to using silicon covered probe wires. Awesome! Not only can the probes handle slightly higher heat — though not flare-ups — but they also don’t fray over time.

Without the Stoker, I’m not sure if I’ll attempt pulled pork. But I might do some ribs.

Does 75 lbs of smoked pork fit in my fridge?

Saturday, September 29th, 2007
Fridge Full O' Pork 3

Yes, yes it does. Pictured at left is 75 lbs of smoked pork all wrapped up and ready to be picked up by a friend as the main course in their friend’s daughters wedding.

It took me four days — 3 overnight cooks — to produce 75 lbs of smoked pork. Each round was about 30 lbs of smoked pork (4 shoulder cuts each round) that had been dry rubbed with my special blend of salts/sugars/spices, then smoked for 22 hours over hardwood lump charcoal with bits of apple wood (that had been soaked in gin and red wine for several days) at a bit over 200 degrees.

Delicious stuff. Took a bit of eating logistics to clear out the fridge enough for the pork.

Now that I have exchanged food for payment, can I drop “professional chef” on my resume?

Nah — probably not without offending real professional chefs.

Stupid Simple Grilled Pork Chops

Sunday, August 5th, 2007

I made pork chops last night and they were worthy of entry into the Google Brain Cache.

Christine brought home 4 beautiful thick cut pork chops with a request that I grill ’em. They were of a quality that I didn’t want to mask their porky goodness with too much goo.

So, I mixed up a sauce…

  • Soy Sauce
  • Honey
  • Dried Powdered Ginger
  • Apple Cider
  • Salt
  • Pepper

… in a bowl. It should be slightly thick, but not goopy. Drizzle over pork chops and let sit for at least an hour, flipping them periodically to make sure both sides are coated.

Toss chops on a medium hot grill. Simultaneously, set extra sauce in a sauce pan on low heat on the stove. You want it to bubble, but not boil.

Whenever you need to flip the chops — I flip them 3 times so I can make that classic criss-cross sear makrs on the outside — baste the chops with some more of the now-simmering sauce.

Grill to an internal temperature of 140 degrees.

Ridiculously good chops are the result.

Update: Scott recommends a simple brine. Totally agree. If you have excellent quality meat and want an overall Very Meaty Experience, brining is totally the way to go. I simply wanted something with a bit more flavor.

Between the soy sauce and the salt, my sauce is very brine-like in that it has quite a bit of moisture and a whole lot of salt. No, the end result is not salty.

I’m thinking the same sauce would go brilliantly on salmon bellies or hamachi (yellowtail) collars/heads. Maybe with a little lemon juice.

Cthulhu: Eater of Souls, Roaster of Dogs

Saturday, May 26th, 2007

RoastMyWeenie has a limited number of Cthulhu(/Punisher) roaster’s available for purchase.


Cthulhu: Eater of Souls, Roaster of Dogs

A while ago, I wrote about some pretty funny / cool hot dog roasters sent to me from the folks at roastmyweenie.com.

Work well enough, and pretty amusing, but not exactly practical for even a modest sized cook.

I really wanted a roaster that could hold more than one dog. After thinking about it a bit, dawned on me that some creature with tentacles would be perfect and easy enough to cut on roastmyweenie’s water jet based cutter.

Now, I could have a gone with a squid based design as they will, in fact, eventually rule the living world.

But, nah….

Read the rest of this entry »

Random BGE & Smoker Stuff.

Wednesday, February 28th, 2007

A friend, MacDude, asked me for some details on buying a Big Green Egg. This spurred me to update my So you wanna buy a Big Green Egg? article with information I have learned since I wrote that early last year.

If you are considering the purchase of a BGE or kamodo style ceramic cooker, go have a read of said article as it might help.

In other news, Ben Holt has completed the documentation of his Terra Cotta Smoker. It is quite well constructed and he has done some great cooks on it. Next up? He is going to hack together some kind of simple temperature control system that can be used to do longer term cooks without having to futz with the cooker every 10 to 15 minutes. Nice hack!

Update: In a post responding to this one, Auroralux indicated interest in constructing a terra cotta smoker. Specifically:

I know we already have the biggest part, the large terra cotta pot, because we purchased it several years ago to help heat our oven evenly for making roasts.

Neat. I hadn’t heard of doing this, but it certainly sounds like a good idea. Anyone have any more information?

Stoker + Pottery: Smoking Pot w/An IP Address

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

Rama received a Stoker for christmas. He has since been doing a brilliant bit of hackery involving wood, the Stoker, and ceramic planters.

Excellent. I might have to build a second cooking device using some combination of prefab ceramic and bricks.

Actually, given the ease of casting adobe or clay, I bet it would be fairly straightforward to build your own controlled and effective cooking device to whatever specifications you need.

First up, however, is the cold smoking rig using the Egg, a dryer duct, and a cooler.