Tag: Big Green Egg

Brisket on the Big Green Egg

For me, BBQ has traditionally been pork.  Ribs, pulled pork, pork steaks, etc.; it was always pork.  I had always heard and read about the elusive brisket and based on the horror stories on the interwebs, I never even tried to cook one until I bought my Big Green Egg.  Since then, I’ve had a decent amount of success cooking briskets for my friends, family, and co-workers.  So I thought I’d share what I’ve learned since I first tackled what is arguably the hardest piece of meat to cook well. 

  • Packers, flats, & points:  You’ll typically find brisket sold in one of 2 ways; flats or packers.  A packer cut brisket is packaged in a cryovac package and usually runs 10+ lbs.  It’s actually 2 cuts of beef, the brisket flat & point.  The bottom side of the package will reveal a thick, hard, white fat covering.  This gnarly looking piece of meat covered in fat always intimidated the heck out of me.  You’ll also find a brisket flat, which is the leaner of the 2 parts of a brisket.  It will have the same covering of fat, will cost a little more per pound, and typically goes 6-8lbs.  (note: we won’t talk about “corned beef” briskets that you can find in the grocery stores)
  • Trim the Brisket:  I often cook brisket flats for my family, but the packers are awesome and what most folks cook for BBQ competitions.  Either way, trim that brisket.  I hate to get a brisket sandwhich in a BBQ joint and find a huge ribbon of fat along one side of the meat.  Additionally, any seasoning that you do to a brisket won’t penetrate that fat layer.  If you’re cooking a packer, don’t try to seperate the 2 cuts.  They’ll come apart much easier after they come off the cooker.
  • Rub &/or inject:  After the brisket is well trimmed, apply your rub &/or injection.  I don’t typically inject, but I do apply a generous rub to the brisket.  I like a combination of fresh cracked black pepper and kosher salt, but there are lots of good brisket rubs on the market.  Note:  some folks like to slather their butts &/or brisket with yellow mustard.  I used to, but frankly I’ve abandonded the practice and find that I don’t miss it at all.
  • Indirect Cooking:  Set your cooker up for indirect cooking.  On the Big Green Egg, that means platesetter installed feet up and temperatures steady at 250 degrees.  I like to put a disposable aluminum pan between the platesetter feet and the cooking grate to catch as much of the extra drippings as possible.
  • The Stall:  Like a pork butt, a brisket will reach approximately 160-170 degrees internal temperature and go into a stall.  During this time, the connective tissues in the brisket are breaking down and the magic is happening.  Once the process is complete, the temp will begin to climb again.  When it hits ~195 degrees and a temperature probe slides in easily with little reisisance, the brisket is done.  Frankly, this thing is going to look like a meteorite when it’s done but don’t let that fool you.
  • Burnt Ends:  At this point, if you’ve cooked a packer cut brisket it’s time to seperate the flat and the point.  You should be able to take a long knive and easily cut through the vein of fat that seperates the flat from the point.  The point is fattier and once removed, cube it, sauce it, and return it to the cooker.  The extra fat will continue to render from the pieces and the sauce will carmelize.  The sugar in the sauce will darken until the pieces look “burnt”, but trust me they aren’t and they are good eatin’!
  • Rest, slice, & serve:  I find that a brisket benefits even more from a little rest period than a pork butt.  I like to let it rest for at least a half hour.  During this time, the juices redistribute throughout the meat.  I typically slice with an electric knife and serve.

It’s true that it’s harder to get a perfect brisket than a perfect pork butt, but even the briskets that miss the mark are awesome.  So don’t be afraid or intimiated by that hunk of fat covered meat in your butcher’s meat case.  Take it home and give it a shot, it’s totally worth it.


Review: Big Green Egg

Since I’ve been blogging, I’ve been cooking on a Big Green Egg.  But it dawned on me recently that as much as I evangelize the merits of the Big Green Egg, I’ve never actually written a review on the product.  What prompted this review is the number of people that are coming to GrillandBarrel.comafter doing a search for “Big Green Egg Review”.  Well for those of you that have gotten here through that method, here goes.

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For centuries, people have cooked in clay vessels.  Evidence of clay cooking vessels have been found all over the world.  From the tandoor cooker in India to the mushikamodo in Japan, it’s believed that these are the precursors to today’s kamado style cooker.


Kamados became popular in the US after World War II.  Today, there are a number of companies making kamado style cookers using ceramic and refractory materials in their construction.  Big Green Egg began production in 1974, first using clay materials and finally the ceramic construction used today.  Based in Atlanta, Big Green Egg is the world’s largest producer and international distributor of ceramic, kamado style cookers.

There are many advantages to this style of cooker and in particular, the Big Green Egg.

  • Temperature Control – once the ceramic material comes up to temp, it retains the heat for hours and doesn’t require a large fire to maintain that temp.
  • Low Fuel Consumption – as stated above since the ceramic is radiating retained heat, only a small fire is needed for low temperature smoking and thus only a small amount of fuel is required.
  • Moisture – this style of cooker does not require a pan for water or other liquids.  The ceramic retains the moisture in the cooking chamber and produces moist & flavorful results
  • Grill or Smoke –  Of course you can cook indirect on lots of grills, but few afford you the ability to smoke or grill equally well.
  • Active User Community – There’s a very strong following of fanatical owners of the Big Green Egg online.  Called “Eggheads”, you can find them hanging out at the Egghead Forum or gathering at regional “Eggfests” around the country.  The granddaddy of all eggfests is in Atlanta in October called Eggtoberfest.  There’s plenty of advice, tips, techniques, and recipes willing shared among the loyal following.

Of course there are some drawbacks to any product, and the Big Green Egg is no exception. 

  • Capacity – Although you can add additional cooking grates higher into the dome, there’s no getting around the fact that capacity can be an issue if you often cook for large groups.  Now by “large”, I mean more than ~20 folks or so (depending on what your cooking).
  • Portability – These things are heavy.  As such, they’re not great for tailgating, camping etc.

Personally, I find that the advantages to a Big Green Egg outweigh the disadvantages.  And since the product comes in sizes ranging from mini to X-Large, I’m confident that there’s a size that’s right for everyone.

Since I acquired my Big Green Egg, the way we eat as a family has completely changed.  I cook nearly every weekend and often times throughout the week.  With a little practice, you can have the cooker running and ready to cook in less than 15 minutes even though it’s charcoal.  So being able to cook dinner after work is very easy to do.  When I cook on Sundays, I am most often smoking (or cooking low & slow).  This typically means a larger meal with plenty of left overs.  

Throughout the pages of GrillandBarrel.com, you’ll find lots of my own experiences with the Big Green Egg.  So peruse the information here and let me know if you have questions or feedback on the product.

Maybe I’ll run into you at an Eggfest someday!


The Long, Slow Burn

When I tell folks that the pulled pork they’re enjoying cooked for 12+ hrs (or longer), I often hear comments like “Wow, how many times did you have to add charcoal?”. People are amazed when I tell them that I didn’t add any and that I got a good night’s sleep besides. So here’s an example to illustrate the burn times that can be achieved with the Big Green Egg.

Over the holiday weekend, I cooked pork butt on three consecutive nights. The last night, Saturday, I fired up the BGE at ~9:00pm for an all nighter. I filled the BGE with lump charcoal almost to the fire ring. The butts cooked until ~2:00pm the next day. At that time, we bumped the temps to 300 degree and put a load of ABT’s on the cooker. At ~4:00pm, I removed the plate setter and continued to cook at 300-350 degrees while I put a couple of chicken breasts on.

All told, the cooker ran for ~20 hours on a single load of lump charcoal.  I accomplished this without the aid of an electronic draft device (i.e. a Stoker or BBQ Guru), just controlling temps with the vents and giving the coals a good stir when switching between smoking and grilling.

So how about it?  How long have you cooked a single load of fuel?  And gas doesn’t count!  🙂


Doing the Triple

Like most holiday weekends, I find myself cooking for almost the entire weekend.  But that’s okay, I love doing it.  This Memorial Day weekend was no different.  And for large meals, there’s nothing better than pulled pork.  It’s pretty simple and goes a long way.  (Here’s my method for pork butt/pulled pork on the Big Green Egg).

It’s sort of a tradition for me to feed the guys at work on the Friday before a holiday weekend.  So, Thursday night I fired up the Big Green Egg and cooked two pork butts totaling ~13lbs.  They went on the cooker at 5:45pm on Thursday night and came off around 8:15am on Friday.  That’s one all-nighter in the books.

On Friday, I offered to bring pulled pork to a family gathering on Saturday for lunch.  So once again I fired up the cooker and went with a single pork butt.  (I also fired up theBubba Keg for some bratwurst for dinner.)  This time, a six-pounder went on the BGE at 5:30pm on Friday night and I took it off at 6:30am on Saturday.  That’s two all-nighters.

My neighbor had planned a backyard party for Sunday and asked me to cook pork butt, so ~15lbs. of pork butt went on the cooker at 9:30 on Saturday night and came off at ~2:00pm on Sunday.  That’s three all-nighters in a row.

Even though the BGE does a great job and doesn’t require much tending, I have stayed up late and gotten up early for the past 3 nights.  I’m sure glad it’s raining today, I could use a nap!


Impromptu BBQ

I guess there’s really nothing impromptu about a 14 hr cook, but on the drive home from the office last night I decided to put a couple of pork butts on the Big Green Egg and surprise my team with BBQ today for lunch. I hit the supermarket (Schnuck’s had whole pork butt on sale for $.97/lb.) at 5:00pm and by 5:45pm had the egg fired up and steady at 250 degrees and the meat on.


I left for my daughter’s softball game and returned home around 8:00pm to find the cooker at ~290 degrees.  I used this as an excuse to “tend the cooker” and fine tune my temps.  That means I sat by the cooker with my neighbor and enjoyed the evening until turning in around midnight.  (Don’t tell my wife that tending the cooker isn’t really all that necessary, shhh)

This morning at 6:00am I found the BGE chugging along peacefully at 255 degrees.  God, I love the smell of pork butt in the morning. 

By 8:30, I had the butts wrapped and resting in a cooler for the trip to the office.  I just finished pulling the pork and setting out the spread.  I rang the lunch bell (figuratively of course) and the stuff was gone in nothing flat. 

Next time, I’ll feed the other half of my folks at the other campus.  I guess the day before the July 4th holiday should work for that.


Leaving the Nest – Update

I thought I’d post one final update to the construction of the table for my large Big Green Egg. We finally got the BGE placed in the table and cooked on it for the first time. And it’s awesome!

Here’s a shot of the BGE in it’s final resting place:

Egg in Place

In an earlier post, I talked about some of the finishing touches.  We did run into one snag.  If you notice in the photo, the paver that the BGE is sitting on is not flush as was intended.  We discovered that the spring hinges on the dome actually rotate downward slightly when opening the lid and we hadn’t allowed enough clearance for this.  So we had to make accommodations for that by raising the egg slightly by inserting slats under the paver. 

Favorite parts:

  • having an “electric” table
  • grilling light
  • huge work surface

Things to consider next time:

  • possibly use larger casters
  • consider where to store the platesetter (I’m thinking a wire shelf suspended under the bottom shelf would work great)

All in all, I think it turned out really well.  I have to give special thanks to Zino & Davidhoff for all their help.  Without them, I would have probably just bought the BGE table or thrown together something that wouldn’t have been nearly as nice as this table.

Are you building a table or cart for your Egg or other cooker?  Drop us a comment and let us know how it turns out.


Super Bowl Eats

Like most guys who wield a BBQ pit for fun, Super Sunday is a day that I cook. This year I was headed over to a neighbor’s for the game and there was to be plenty of food, so I focused on finger foods and appetizers.

With all the buzz about the Bacon Explosion this week, I decided I’d put one of those together. I also did one of my favorites and put together a batch of ABT’s. Then for something new, I did a batch of “Moinkballs”. That’ a cross between “moo” & “oink” (moo + oink = moink). They’re very easy to do . Just wrap a half a slice of bacon around a meatball, smoke, brush with BBQ sauce, and serve.

Here are some shots of my Superbowl Eats:

Bacon Explosion ready to cook:


Fresh off the cooker:


ABT’s and Moinkballs


And a few of each as they came off of the cooker:


So what did you cook on Sunday?  Drop me a line and let me know.


Ready to Leave the Nest

If you cook on a Big Green Egg or a similar ceramic cooker, you probably started with the egg nestled snuggly in a “nest”. That’s simply the stand with casters that holds the egg at a usable height. Many of us also opted for the flip-up tables to provide a work surface near the egg.


However, you quickly come to realize that even this is not enough work surface. Personally, I added a side table and still find myself juggling cooking utensils, pans, aluminum foil, BBQ sauce etc.

So I began to consider purchasing one of the tables from the Big Green Egg folks.  However, after consulting with a buddy of mine we determined that we probably had enough stuff lying around to build one on our own.  We set about finding plans for a table, collecting the items that we already had, and determining what additional parts we’d need.

We located plans at a couple of places.  Big Green Egg has plans available here.  We also consulted The Naked Whiz for plans as well as a nice gallery of tables other folks have built.  We landed on a modified plan based on everything we read and learned because we needed to take into account that we were starting with lumber, casters and paving stones that we already had lying around.

Over the next few days, I’ll post our progress and photos.  I’m pretty excited about leaving the nest and moving the egg into a more permanent home.  Stay tuned!


How I Spent My Snow Day or Pork Loin on the Big Green Egg


Here in the midwest, we got quit a blast of winter last night.  I woke up this morning (actually the school woke me up to tell me there was no school) to ~3 inches of sleet & snow on the ground.  So I elected to exercise a little flexibility afforded to me by my employer and work from home.  Around lunch time, my neighbor called to say he had a pork loin in the freezer and since we were both home it seemed like a good excuse to cook.

So around 3:30pm I fired up the Big Green Egg.  I shoveled just enough space outside of the garage to be able to roll the egg outside.  In nothing flat, I had a 275 degree fire with an indirect setup.  We put the pork loin on and retired to the warmth of our respective homes.


By 6:00pm, the pork loin was at 160 degrees internal and I declared it ready to eat.  I cut a hunk off for my trouble and left the rest for my buddy.  I mean heck, he provided the meat.  I had also done some sliced potatoes tossed in olive oil and a little grill seasoning (I call ’em Cheater Fried Potatoes).

It’s kinda cool to be able to work from home while tending the fire and having a fresh meal off of the cooker in mid-week.  Other than grilled chicken or burgers, I don’t get to enjoy mid-week cooking very often.

How’d you spend your most recent snow day?  Drop me a comment and let me know.


Tip: Big Green Egg Frozen Shut


Last week, I wrote a post about gasket replacement on the Big Green Egg.  Based on feedback, it’s seems like a post on how to get your frozen BGE open is in order.  This is really a pretty simple and there are a couple of ways to go about it.

  1. The first method is to remove the ceramic top (You do use your ceramic top to snuff the fire don’t you?).  Light a couple of starter cubes and drop them inside.  They’ll land on the cooking grate, but should burn long enough and create enough heat to thaw the frozen gasket.
  2. The second method works on similar principals but starts at the other end of the egg.  Light a couple of cubes and shove them through the bottom vent under the fire grate.  Likewise, they should burn long enough to get the job done but with the added benefit of possibly lighting the remaining lump in the BGE (You do use lump charcoal don’t you?).  Alternatively, if you light your BGE with a MAPP Torch or something similar you can direct the torch at the fire grate and re-light the remaining lump.

I hope these tips help you out if you find yourself frozen out!