14 January 2021
Big Green Egg FAQ - part 1
The most frequently asked questions and answers about your Big Green Egg
The Big Green Egg and your accessories are actually very easy to use, once you know how everything works. As is the case with many things, practice makes perfect here, too. You may, however, occasionally find yourself faced with an issue you can’t quite figure out. How do you control the temperature, which accessories are absolutely indispensable and why is my EGG smoking like that? We have listed the most frequently asked questions and answers for you, so that EGGing is a breeze!
EVERYTHING ABOUT THE BIG GREEN EGG ACCESSORIES
Big Green Egg has a wide range of accessories that offer your EGG even more options or that are just highly useful for certain cooking techniques and specific preparations. But how do you use these accessories, and what are the most important basics? And what exactly makes certain accessories such valuable additions to your Big Green Egg and true must-haves for an EGG enthusiast? You will find the answers to all your questions below.
What are the most important basic accessories for your Big Green Egg?
Our 100% natural charcoal, the Charcoal Starters and an Ash Tool to remove the ash from your ceramic base are the most important basics to get started using your Big Green Egg. Furthermore, make sure your EGG is sturdy and safe with a mobile IntEGGrated Nest+Handler or a Table Nest if you are installing it in a table yourself. Do you want to discover the many possibilities of your EGG? The top 3 accessories consist of the indispensable convEGGtor, the Cast Iron Grid and the Baking Stone. These will enable you to grill optimally, apply indirect cooking techniques and transform your EGG into a convection oven for baking.
What are the most practical accessories to make EGGing even easier?
The more often you use your Big Green Egg, the happier you will be with the many options and results. Want to make life easy during your EGG cooking sessions? A Silicone Tipped Tong, Grid Lifter, EGGmitt and convEGGtor Basket will give you the set-up of a real pro! While cooking, you immediately collect released grease and food remnants in the reusable Drip Pan, which saves you a lot of cleaning.
When do I use the convEGGtor and when the Half convEGGtor Stone?
The convEGGtor and the Half convEGGtor Stone are both intended as heat shields. When you use these, your ingredients or dish will not cook directly above the glowing charcoal. This is the indirect cooking technique in which your product cooks largely thanks to air circulation and the radiant heat of the ceramic.
The Half convEGGtor Stone allows you to create a combination of both a direct and an indirect zone in your EGG. That way, you can apply two different preparation techniques simultaneously. You use the Half convEGGtor Stone in combination with the 1-Piece convEGGtor Basket.
You can also choose to place 2 Half convEGGtor Stones in the convEGGtor Basket. The indirect surface is therefore slightly larger than with the traditional convEGGtor. This means that less air circulation passes the heat shield and the temperature in the EGG also remains lower than when using the convEGGtor. This indirect cooking method is particularly suitable for low and slow cooking.
Can I use the Baking Stone as a heat shield?
No, the Baking Stone is not designed for the same purpose as the convEGGtor or the Half convEGGtor Stone. As its name implies, the Baking Stone is intended for baking: you place a pizza, flammkuchen, bread or cake pan directly on the stone. The Baking Stone is always used in combination with a heat shield such as the convEGGtor or Half convEGGtor Stone to form a barrier between the glowing charcoal and the Baking Stone on which you place your product. If you use the Baking Stone without the convEGGtor, the stone will become too hot and the bottom of what you are baking will burn.
For short preparations such as pizzas and flammkuchen, make sure the Baking Stone is preheated before baking. For longer preparations such as pastry, it is usually better to place a cold Baking Stone on the grid to prevent the bottom of your product from burning.
Can I use the convEGGtor as a Baking Stone?
No, this is generally not recommended and will in most cases not work well. Given that your convEGGtor is the heat shield between the charcoal and your product, it gets hot very quickly. As a result, the bottom of what you are baking will burn before your product has had time to cook through properly. A convEGGtor should be used as a heat shield and on top of it you place the special Baking Stone on a grid to place your pizza, flammkuchen, cake pan or bread directly on it.
I want to expand my accessory collection. What are real must-haves?
Do you want to raise the bar or increase your cooking surface? With these Big Green Egg accessories you will never be short of hands again! The Cast Iron Skillet is a true chef’s favourite and is highly versatile. Steamed fish on vegetables, a nice piece of meat or even a tasty brownie for dessert. There is nothing the Skillet cannot handle. If you want to expand your cooking techniques on the Big Green Egg, take a look at the Carbon Steel Grill Wok or Dutch Ovens. They make it easy to use your EGG to prepare delicious stews and stir-fries. For the true fan, we have developed the EGGspander System for endless cooking options. Get the most out of your EGG and yourself.
What can I do with the EGGspander?
What can’t you do with it, is perhaps a better question. Challenge yourself and get the most out of yourself and your EGG with the 5 Piece EGGspander Kit. Let your culinary creativity run free with limitless cooking options and create an infinite number of setups.
The 5-Piece EGGspander Kit consists of various parts (also available separately) with which you can prepare products on three tiered levels: the 1-Piece convEGGtor Basket, 2 Half Stainless Steel Grids and the 2-Piece Multi Level Rack.
The convEGGtor basket is the base. You can use this as a holder for your convEGGtor, the Carbon Steel Grill Wok and also the Big Green Egg Large in combination with a Cast Iron Grid (small) for cowboy grilling, where you grill the ingredient just above the glowing charcoal.
Moreover, the base is designed in such a way that you can cook on two different levels or cook directly and indirectly at the same time side by side. For example, place a Half convEGGtor Stone on the bottom level of the basket with a Half Stainless Steel Grid on the top level for the indirect zone. On the other half of the basket, place a Half Cast Iron Grid on the top level so that you can grill directly above the charcoal.
Need some extra capacity? Then simply place the 2-Piece Multi Level Rack, a stainless steel rack that allows you to cook even more ingredients at the same time.
THE BEST FUEL FOR YOUR BIG GREEN EGG
Every cooking session starts with the right fuel. The key to success for a tasty dish is to use the best-quality charcoal. While the result partly depends on the type of charcoal used, one thing is certain: the flavour of charcoal-cooked ingredients is unparalleled. If you find yourself with a leftover bag of briquettes, why wouldn’t you use them in your Big Green Egg? Below, we’ll explain why doing so it not a good idea, along with more information about topping up the charcoal in your EGG.
Which type of charcoal should I use?
Charcoal comes in different shapes, sizes and qualities. There are soft, medium and hard types of charcoal. For the Big Green Egg, we recommend using a medium charcoal of good, natural quality (without chemical ingredients, fragrances and flavours) that does not produce an extremely strong taste. Not every dish can handle a strong charcoal flavour. Is a little extra flavour precisely what you’re looking for? Then use smoking wood. The Big Green Egg premium 100% natural charcoal is neutral in taste and provides a subtle, smoky flavour.
Why is it better not to use briquettes in my Big Green Egg?
Briquettes are often praised because, once they glow, they continue to glow well. This advantage actually becomes a disadvantage in the case of a kamado like the Big Green Egg. Given that briquettes are excellent at maintaining the temperature reached – in combination with the extremely insulating properties of the EGG – it is difficult to regulate the temperature of the Big Green Egg. Charcoal burns faster and also cools down faster than briquettes, so that you can control and maintain the temperature much better. Moreover, many briquettes contain additives that produce a lot of ash, which impedes the air flow in your EGG. Another disadvantage of these additives is that they leave an unpleasant after-smell and negatively impact the taste of your dish. Obviously, you do not want these additives to penetrate the ceramic of your Big Green Egg. Therefore, always use good, natural-quality charcoal.
How far do I have to fill my EGG with charcoal?
The ceramic fire pit is intended for the charcoal. Fill it to the brim with charcoal for each new cooking session. The ceramic inner ring on the fire basket will then ensure sufficient distance between the glowing charcoal and the grid in the standard configuration. Did you have a short cooking session and do you have some leftover charcoal after your Big Green Egg has cooled down? No problem! You can simply top it up when starting your next cooking session and use it again.
When do I need to top up the charcoal and how should I do so?
Before the start of each cooking session, stir the charcoal in your Big Green Egg using the Ash Tool. Ashes that have collected between the charcoal will fall to the bottom of the ceramic base, along with the small pieces of charcoal, after which you can remove them. That way, you ensure an optimal air flow in your EGG for each new cooking session. Subsequently top up the charcoal to the brim of the ceramic fire box and you’re ready to go.
How do I top up the charcoal while EGGing?
Topping up the charcoal while cooking is only necessary occasionally, during very long cooking sessions or when you need extreme heat. Should this be the case, gently slide the glowing charcoal to one side of the fire pit using the Ash Tool and add charcoal on the other side. The fire will spread on its own and ignite the new charcoal. Never throw new charcoal on top of the glowing charcoal. Doing so will cover the glowing charcoal and stop the heat from spreading in the EGG. This will lead to high temperatures forming only at the bottom of the fire basket, which can be harmful to your ceramic.
After several cooking sessions, there are lots of small pieces of charcoal in my EGG. Can these still be used?
Too many small pieces of charcoal may obstruct the air flow, which may make it difficult to get your Big Green Egg up to temperature. Remove the small pieces from the fire basket or let the charcoal burn completely after your cooking session.
IGNITING CHARCOAL AND ADJUSTING THE TEMPERATURE
At the start of each cooking session, you first ignite the charcoal and bring your Big Green Egg to the desired temperature. You can then control the temperature to practically the nearest degree. Which may take a little practice at first. Do you want your EGG hotter or cooler, or do you want a constant temperature for as long as possible? No problem! Below you can read how to achieve this and what the solutions are if you find yourself struggling. You’ll be preparing all your dishes to perfection in no time.
How do I ignite the charcoal in my Big Green Egg?
Before igniting the charcoal, fully open the air regulator at the bottom of the ceramic base. Place 1 to 3 Charcoal Starters among the charcoal; don’t bury them! Choose the number of firelighters depending on the temperature you want to cook at. For a low and slow dish, 1 firelighter is enough, otherwise the temperature in your Big Green Egg will quickly become too high. If you are going to grill or bake a pizza at a high temperature, use 3 firelighters. Ignite the firelighters and leave the lid open for 10-15 minutes until the firelighters have burned up. Leaving the lid opens allows the necessary oxygen in for the charcoal to glow. Subsequently, close the lid of your EGG, let the dome heat up for a few minutes and then begin regulating the temperature.
How do I regulate the temperature of my Big Green Egg?
The temperature in your Big Green Egg depends on the amount of oxygen the charcoal receives. The more oxygen, the stronger the charcoal will burn and the higher the temperature will be. Letting less oxygen flow into your EGG will cause the temperature to drop. It is an interplay between the air regulator at the bottom of the ceramic base and the rEGGulator on top of the dome. Using the air regulator, you determine the approximate amount of oxygen and you fine-tune the temperature to the precise degree using the rEGGulator.
Always make sure the temperature is stable before cooking. A convEGGtor, a cold pan or, for example, a large piece of meat will cause the temperature to (temporarily) drop. Placing the convEGGtor, for example, causes a temporary temperature drop of 40-50 degrees. Given that the temperature first decreases and then automatically rises again, it is difficult to determine how large the openings of the air regulator and rEGGulator have to be to create a particular stable temperature.
How do I deal with temperature fluctuations caused by opening the lid?
Keep the dome closed as much as possible while EGGing and do not leave it open. That way, the hot air in the Big Green Egg can circulate optimally, so that your dish cooks evenly and the temperature in the EGG remains stable. It also prevents the felt on the edges from burning. Don’t worry if you open the lid for a moment and the temperature drops. The dome has enough radiant heat and won’t immediately cool down and since extra oxygen will reach the charcoal, it will burn a little stronger again. This will compensate for the temperature loss and your EGG will automatically reach the original temperature again.
The temperature is not rising sufficiently. What could be the cause of this?
There can be various reasons for the temperature in your Big Green Egg stagnating:
- The opening of the ceramic fire basket on the inside of your EGG is not directly aligned with the air regulator. This hinders the influx of oxygen, making it more difficult for the temperature to rise.
- There is too much ash in the charcoal from your previous cooking session. This inhibits the flow of oxygen in your EGG. Therefore, prior to each cooking session, stir the charcoal well so that the ash falls into the ceramic base and you can remove it.
- There is too much ash under the fire basket in the ceramic base. This also hinders the oxygen flow in your EGG. That is why it is important to remove the (c)old ash through the air regulator using the Ash Tool before each cooking session.
- The holes in your coal grid are blocked by small pieces of charcoal. Extinguish the charcoal, remove it when it has cooled off and fill the fire basket with new charcoal. You can prevent this by letting the charcoal burn up completely every now and then.
- The thermometer in the lid indicates an incorrect temperature. That’s why it is important to calibrate it from time to time.
The temperature in my EGG is too high. How can I get it down as quickly as possible?
Since heat is retained in the Big Green Egg’s ceramic, it is easier to increase the temperature than to decrease it. It is better, therefore, to let the temperature rise faster than it is to try to reduce it.
However, there is a trick to help speed up a temperature reduction. Placing a cold convEGGtor and/or Baking Stone in your EGG will make the temperature drop almost immediately (due to the addition of a cold object to your EGG). A convEGGtor leads to a temperature reduction of 40-50° C. When combined with a Baking Stone, it will drop a few tens of degrees more. In addition, make the openings of your air regulator at the bottom of the ceramic base and the rEGGulator on top smaller. Due to the reduced flow of oxygen into your EGG, the charcoal will glow less brightly and the temperature in your EGG will continue to slowly drop. Once the desired temperature has been reached, the convEGGtor and/or the Baking Stone will have done their job and you can remove them again if you wish. Beware of a possible backdraft when placing and removing these accessories.
How do I prevent a backdraft?
A backdraft occurs at higher temperatures due to the sudden influx of a large amount of oxygen. If you quickly open the lid of your Big Green Egg at a high temperature, for instance. Make a habit of always opening the lid of your EGG gradually. First open the lid to a small gap of about 5 cm to slowly allow the cold air to flow in and the warm air to escape. You can then open the lid completely (but always carefully!).
How do I calibrate my thermometer?
Your thermometer may stop working accurately. You can calibrate your thermometer to ensure that it continues to indicate the correct temperature. Start by detaching the thermometer from the lid. Then hang the pin of the thermometer in boiling water (make sure it does not touch the bottom) and check that it reads 100°C. If this is not the case, adjust the thermometer using the adjusting nut on the back until it reads 100° C. Then hang the thermometer pin in ice water until the temperature has dropped to 0°C. Repeat the process until the thermometer reads 100°C in boiling water.
WANTED AND UNWANTED SMOKE
The use of charcoal lends a subtle, smoky flavour to your food. Have you ever baked an apple pie in your EGG, for instance? The flavour is so good that once you have, you’ll never want to do it any other way. When you opt for this delicious smoking technique , you consciously add a certain extra flavour to your ingredients. The Big Green Egg is extremely suitable for this. The characteristic aroma and delicious taste of warm smoked dishes is sure to impress. But what about the different types of smoking wood, which flavours suit which dishes and how does a grilling plank work? And what if a large plume of smoke comes out of the chimney when it is not supposed to? We will help you with all smoke-related questions, because once you have this basic knowledge, you can start experimenting.
What is the difference between various types of smoking wood and when do I use which type?
All you really need to smoke on your Big Green Egg is smoking wood. For most smoking sessions, you will also need a convEGGtor. Adding smoking wood to your charcoal creates smoke in the EGG, which adds aroma and taste to your ingredient. We recommend using Wood Chips or Wood Chunks instead of wood shavings or sawdust.
- Wood chips consist of smaller wood chips that you use for smoking sessions of up to about 30 minutes. You use this when your ingredient does not have to cook for that long or if you want to give ingredients a subtly smoky taste. When smoking fish or poultry, for instance. But also, for example, to give couscous an extra smoky flavour.
- Wood Chunks are large chunks of wood intended for longer smoking sessions because they continue to give off smoke for a long time. Thanks to the size of the chunks, you will not need to add additional smoking wood in the middle of your cooking session. Thinking of preparing a nice big piece of meat like smoked pork belly? In that case, Wood Chunks are your best option.
How does smoking with a grilling plank work?
Besides Wood Chips and Chunks, you can also use a Wooden Grilling Plank for certain preparations. Place the ingredient on the soaked plank for a subtle but wonderful flavour accent. It’s a delicious match for small pieces of salmon or other types of fish, mushrooms, various fruits or duck breast. There are two ways to use the grilling plank:
- Cooking & steaming: place the soaked plank with your product on it on the grid.The steam released will let your ingredient absorb the sweet, cedar-wood flavour.
- Smoking & roasting: allow the soaked plank to dry on your grid and then place your ingredient. The bottom of the cedar wood will singe, giving your food a smoky flavour.
Which smoking wood flavours go well with which dishes?
The type of Wood Chips or Wood Chunks used also influences the flavour of your dish. Since there are many different types of smoking wood, you can determine the taste of the dishes you smoke yourself. Some types are more intense than others. Some are ideal for smoking meat whereas others may be more suitable for fish. We’ll give you some rules of thumb below, but remember that taste is personal.
- Apple with natural sweet flavour -> for fish, shellfish, pork, white meat and poultry such as chicken and turkey.
- Cherries with a mild fruit flavour -> for fish, lamb, all kinds of game, duck and beef. A true all-rounder.
- Pecan with a rich soft flavour -> for fish, poultry, beef and pork. It goes particularly well with spicy smoked dishes, such as the classic American barbecue dishes.
- Walnut/hickory with a powerful and spicy taste -> for red meat, turkey, chicken and all kinds of game, but also when smoking fruit and nuts.
- Mesquite with delicious aromatic and spicy aroma -> for game, beef steaks and seasoned pork like pork chops. It is often used for pulled pork and brisket.
Why does my EGG smoke so much and how can I stop it?
Excessive smoke can have multiple causes. Unwanted smoke (which you have not created yourself with the help of smoking wood) can be caused by inferior quality fire starters and/or charcoal, but it may also have other causes. Dripping grease while grilling also causes smoke, for instance. Your first reaction may be to stop the smoke by closing the reGGulator from the top. But then the smoke will remain inside the EGG, while what you want to do is quickly release it and stop it forming, for it’s the type of smoke that gives an overly smoky taste to your food that you don’t want.
Therefore, close the air regulator at the bottom of the ceramic base so that the air supply stops and open the lid of the rEGGulator to allow the smoke to escape. The radiant heat from the ceramic and the contact heat from the grid are enough to complete your grilling session, even if the temperature decreases somewhat as a result of opening the lid.
After a grilling session during which grease has dripped onto the charcoal, brush the grid clean and let the charcoal burn for about 10 minutes before closing the air regulator and the rEGGulator. This will burn off the grease or marinade and any leftover food, so you can start the next cooking session with clean charcoal.
CLEANING & MAINTENANCE
An EGG is for life. And if you maintain it well, it will yield many wonderful memories for the next generation, too. Equally important: your dishes taste better and the EGG will retain its good looks. There are a few tips and tricks to keep your Big Green Egg nice and clean and in optimal condition. By cleaning it regularly and giving it an occasional maintenance check, your Egg will remain as good as new and you’ll get a lifetime of enjoyment from it. Take care!
Do I have to clean my EGG after every cooking session?
There are a few things you should do after each use of your Big Green Egg. Fortunately, it only takes a few minutes. Brush your grid clean after each use. This is very easy if it’s still hot. In order to keep your cast iron grid and other accessories in good shape, grease them after use with a wad of kitchen paper and a little vegetable oil. You can wipe the outside of the ceramic base and lid with a cloth and a solution of water and soft soap. This is particularly easy if done while the ceramic is still warm; your EGG will be like new.
The inside of my EGG has turned black. Do I have to burn it clean at a really high temperature/stoke it until white?
No, that is definitely not necessary. The so-called ‘stoking until white’ or ‘burning clean’ at a high temperature of your Big Green Egg is strongly discouraged. Heating up your EGG extremely high in a short time can lead to cracks in your fire ring, so don’t do it!
Your Big Green Egg will turn black on the inside after it has been used a number of times, which is completely normal. It will make your EGG perform better and the temperature will become (even) more stable.
If you had a few greasy cooking sessions which has made the inside of your EGG a little greasy, you can slowly heat it to a temperature of approximately 250°C to remove food residues and fat. Leave it on for a while and when it stops smoking it will be clean. When cleaning in this way, you may want to brush the inside of the lid using a steel brush every now and then. But it won’t turn it white, and neither is that at all necessary.
There is food residue burned into my convEGGtor. How can I get rid of it?
You can prevent this from happening by placing a Drip Pan on your convEGGtor. Grease and potential food residues will fall into the Drip Pan and your convEGGtor will stay nice and clean. If you have not installed a Drip Pan and are there food residues and grease stains on your convEGGtor, then brush the convEGGtor clean while it is still hot. You can remove stubborn stains by placing the convEGGtor in your EGG with the dirty side down. Fire up the EGG to a temperature of 250°C and wait until no more smoke comes out of the chimney. Finally, give it another brush and your convEGGtor will be ready for the next session.
There is mould in my EGG. Why is that and how can I remove it?
If you don’t use your Big Green Egg for a while, food residues and/or high humidity can cause mould to form. In that case, heat your Big Green Egg to 180°C and keep it at this temperature for about 15 minutes before you start cooking. This will get rid of mould and any bacteria. From now on, brush your grid thoroughly after use so that these food residues burn up. After the charcoal has been completely extinguished, open the air regulator at the bottom of the ceramic base and the rEGGulator on top completely if you are not planning to use the EGG for a while.
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THE BIG GREEN EGG COMMUNITY
Let yourself be inspired and learn to do more with your Big Green Egg! Submerge yourself in a world full of culinary possibilities. Ask your questions and share your experiences via Facebook (biggreeneggeu) and Instagram (biggreeneggeu). Tag @biggreeneggeu, use the hashtags #TheEvergreen and #forevergreen and get featured! We create beautiful memories. Are you in?