Paul Sidoriak is the resident Big Green Egg “Eggxpert” here at GrillGrrrl. In this article he gives an overview on why people love their Big Green Egg and the cooking attributes a ceramic grill and smoker can offer the outdoor cook.
I love cooking outside and am frequently getting asked for an overview of the Big Green Egg from the cook’s perspective. The Big Green Egg’s web site will tell you that the Big Green Egg is “the ultimate cooking experience” and I have to agree with that.
Having cooked at two Big Green Egg Fests, facilitated a bunch of cooking demonstrations, and fired up Eggs in my backyard over 50 dozen times, I am comfortable explaining what motivates me to keep cooking on the Big Green Egg, regardless of the season.
For me, the Egg’s “ultimate cooking experience” can be summed up in one word: versatility. A combination of exclusively using hardwood-lump charcoal as a fuel source and the thick ceramic walls of the Egg provides an even and consistent heat source that would be hard to achieve elsewhere.
Heat is controlled by two openings that allow or constrict airflow. A draft door on the bottom of the Big Green Egg allows you to control airflow into the cooker while a dual-function, vented metal top allows you to control how rapidly air escapes.
Wide open settings, allowing mass amounts of air to flow through the Egg, will result in escalating temperatures that you may want to use to quickly sear a steak for finishing or blacken a piece of fresh fish. Restricting both the bottom draft door and metal top will allow less air to flow through the cooker which will provide consistently even heat, at a desirable, lower temperature. Constricted airflows and a stabilized temperature of about 225F make for an ideal environment for adding wood chips for smoking – adding additional dimensions of flavor, color, and texture.
Other outdoor grills and cookers also provide varying degrees of temperature range to cook with as well, but the thick ceramic walls of The Big Green Egg and other ceramic cookers allow the heat to be transferred evenly to your food with little temperature variations.
I recently baked a pineapple upside-down cake at 350F on the Big Green Egg for 30 minutes. Setting up the grill for indirect cooking with the use of a plate-setter or heat shield, I was able to cook the cake with the same precision of a professional baker without heating up my kitchen oven. When the cake was done and off cooling, I bumped the temperature up to 450F by opening the top and bottom vents for a short time and then made a Chicago-style deep-dish pizza in a cast-iron skillet. Both the deep-dish pizza, and the pineapple upside-down cake turned out golden brown and moist, but also crispy and crunchy where you would have wanted them to be.
From a cook’s perspective, the Big Green Egg is the most versatile cooker I have used. It cooks great, looks great, and it’s fun to use. But as a backyard barbecue cook, the highest compliment I can get is when no one goes home hungry and everyone goes home happy!
Currently the Big Green Egg is available in six sizes ranging from the mini that has a 79 square inch cooking area and weighs about 36 lbs up to an extra extra large or XXLarge that boasts a 29″ diameter and a 672 square inch cooking area. Small, medium, and large Big Green Eggs round out the family filling in the sizes between David and Goliath. Prices will vary from store to store and be advised that the egg and nest that it sits upon are sold separately.
The large Big Green Egg I own cost me $ 1004.00 out the door and included the nest where I purchased it. To keep me coming back for more, my dealer threw in some charcoal and Dizzy Pig Seasoning to get me started. Kind gestures like that that influenced me to go back there to buy my second Egg when I determined that one Egg was just not enough!
~ Paul Sidoriak, GrillingMontana.com