One of the greatest things about The Big Green Egg is its versatility. The Egg can be used to grill, barbecue indirectly, or bake. These different cooking styles require positioning your Egg components to achieve the cooking style you’d like to use for the meal.
The Big Green Egg’s is absolutely essential to take advantage of the Egg’s versatility, as most cooking styles work best with it. It is the opinion of this Egghead that the plate setter should be included with purchase of an Egg, but alas, you must buy it separately. Similar results can be achieved using fire bricks or other ceramic pieces to separate the firebox from the cooking area, but the plate setter is the simplest, most effective way to achieve these results.
Grilling & Searing
This is the simplest and most straightforward cooking method on the Egg. Most people are familiar with charcoal grills and the Egg performs the task very well. Just get your coals going put the cooking grid on the fire ring, and start grillin’! Temperature is easily controlled via the draft door, and you usually just leave the chimney mostly or completely open. The high temperatures you can achieve on the egg make for excellent searing.
Indirect Barbecue & Smoking
This is my favorite cooking technique, as it produces the most dramatic results. There is also something about the anticipation of a long cook that adds to the satisfaction. The tenderness and flavor of meats cooked “slow and low” cannot be matched. This technique takes a bit longer than other methods, but you will not be disappointed by the results.
Smoking and indirect cooking requires the Big Green Egg platesetter, which is a three-legged ceramic piece that creates a firewall between the coals and the food. This assures that the temperature will be even on all sides of the food, so rotation is not required and food is cooked evenly everytime. Put your platesetter legs-up on top of the fire ring. The cooking grid rests directly on top of the platesetter. The platesetter also provides a place to put a drip pan below your meats to capture juices that escape during the cooking process.
If cooking at low temperatures, it may be useful to only light a very small portion of the charcoal, as it will slowly burn across the firebox for many hours. There is no need to light most of the charcoal.
The Big Green Egg behaves very much like a brick oven or traditional Indian oven known as a tandor. Pizzas, calzones, and breads have a flavor that cannot be achieved in an electric or gas oven. The Egg can also achieve temperatures much higher than the oven in your kitchen, so it is a way to truly get that brick-oven taste.
Setting up your Egg for baking requires a platesetter. You don’t need a pizza/baking stone, but it is recommended for the best results. Once you’ve lit the charcoal, place your platesetter legs-up on the fire ring, and the grid on top of that. If you have a baking stone, put it on top of the grid. Be sure to preheat your stone, this can take half an hour or so. The platesetter will hold the stone up flush with the lip of the lower-half of the Egg. This allows you to easily tend to your pizzas and other baked goods with a pizza peel or other tool. If you don’t have a baking stone you can use a metal baking pan or cookie sheet, which does not need to be pre-heated.
The grid extender is a simple add-on accessory, which is basically a cooking grid with legs. The grid extender sits on top of the standard grill and provides a second level of cooking space, essentially doubling the grill surface area. Generally, the grid extender is used for indirect cooking and smoking, where the distance from the grill isn’t important, but it can also be used for warming items while you’re grilling, among other things. Creative Eggers have even inverted the grid extender and placed a ceramic disc or drip pan on it in place of a platesetter.
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