How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Breaking in the Big Green Egg

A Day-Long Cooking Adventure in Three Acts
(Photo captions adapted from the Facebook posts with which James kept the rest of the world informed about our progress, whether they cared to be or not.)

Act I: James Builds
Last summer, we visited a friend in Colorado who had become a proud owner of a Big Green Egg -- a grill we had heard was special enough to be worth its rather high selling price. She prepared amazing ribs without standing over the grill the whole time, and convinced us that this might be just the thing for our weekend home. Like many people who are not very serious about grilling, we have had a series of lower-priced grills that eventually succumb to the elements.

We decided to wait until spring -- late spring, in fact -- to embark on our Big Green Egg adventure, and decided that it would be good to purchase it as my birthday present. Having a relatively empty Saturday schedule, I set off to the hardware store (these are only available from authorized dealers, one of which is already our favorite local store, Rocky's).

As with most purchases larger than a deck of cards these days, we were not actually buying a product: we were buying an assembly project. (Thanks, IKEA!) Fortunately, the weather was fine, we had not very much else to do, and we knew the end result would be worthwhile. And in general, the instructions -- combination of print and video -- were reasonably clear, though a few steps did seem like they would be easy to achieve only in zero gravity.
If Big Green Egg is a cult, then assembly is the hazing ritual. #whalinghouse#someassemblyrequired #worthit #mybirthdaypresent
The assembly process was not without risk. This warning really got my attention!
Do not taunt Big Green Egg.
(For SNL allusion, see Happy Fun Ball)
And although this step was not actually dangerous, the image was a bit alarming. I'm testing for airflow, once I lined up the inner and outer parts of the lower egg.
To at least one observer, these resembled carrots.  
By the time the Big Green Egg was ready to use, we had a bit of a conundrum. It was close to our normal evening-meal time, so we needed something relatively simple to prepare and that could cook quickly. Some recipes provided by the company require only 12 minutes of cooking time. But these are close to the upper end of its temperature range (which is 750F!), but the first couple of uses are supposed to be kept at 350F or below. So Pam did some investigating and improvising.

Act II: Pam Prepares
The folks at  would be well advised to have some simple "starter recipes" ideas readily available  for new users. Once you've spent all day putting something together, you don't need to look at online recipes that require you to have started a marinade "yesterday." As it was, I still had to go back to the place where James bought Big Green and buy some of the special fire starter needed to heat the Egg. And really, asking my butcher to de-bone my chicken is not an option when all I'm doing is running to the grocery store and picking up a whole bird.

I wound up making a coffee rub from some stale coffee ground and a variety spices including garlic salt, Chipotle pepper, ginger, and cloves. There were some other things as well, but I don't remember what they all were. I just started grabbing things from the cupboard and shaking them into the bowl. I covered the chicken with the rub, which we then put into the Egg.

We baked potatoes with it, which turned out to be some of the softest we've ever had.

Cookin' without gas!
And the cleanest this grill will ever be.
Act III: James Cooks

After all this, the cooking part was fairly easy. It took only seven minutes to get the coals ready, and from there just a few minutes to reach the called-for 350F in the closed grill. Just a little tweaking of the air vents allowed us to maintain that temperature. Once this was set up, "cooking" became synonymous with "ignoring" until the food was ready. For next time, we will have an thermometer to help us judge the doneness, because the chicken appeared to be done before it actually was. This was easily remedied, though, by returning it to the grill and reopening the air vents.
He is the egg man

The results were great -- moist inside and crispy outside, as EGGers promise. And of course the coffee made it even better!

While back at Rocky's, Pam had picked up a huge cook book for Big Green Egg cultists -- er, users -- and James has ordered a second cooking thermometer to keep at Whaling House.

So let the EGGing begin!

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