There a lots of ways to light the charcoal in a Big Green Egg. No one agrees on the best method, but everyone agrees that N-E-V-E-R use lighter fluid.
I’ve tried lots of methods, from starter cubes, charcoal chimneys, and even a napkin dipped in olive oil. But for me, the quickest and surest method is a MAPP Gas torch. This is a little different that a propane torch like you might use for sweating copper joints. The key differences are that MAPP burns a little hotter, and the biggie is that the torch will burn when you hold it upside down (as you would when sticking into the bottom of the Big Green Egg).
I recommend a self igniting torch with a locking trigger. That way you can tip the MAPP bottle up on end and rest it against the side of the pit with it lit. This is the one I use and you can pick it up at Amazon or your local home improvement store.
What’s your favorite method for lighting the charcoal in your pit? Drop me a note in the comments and let me know.
Seems like we often go to casual gatherings where we take a dish. I’ve gotten tired of the same old thing, so I looked for a way to do something a little different while still cooking outside.
Enter, Chicken Sliders. This was pretty simple. I simply bought thin sliced chicken breasts at the lcoal grocery store. I cut each in half and hit them liberally with Plowboy’s Yardbird rub. I grilled a pound of bacon and then grilled the chicken. I placed the chicken along with a couple of strips of bacon and a slice of cheddar cheese on Hawaiian rolls to serve.
Here’s the process. First, I grilled a pound of bacon. Next, I grilled the half chicken breasts that were sliced thin.
And finally, I assmebled the sliders with a slice of cheddar cheese, a couple of strips of bacon, and half a chicken breast on a Hawaiian roll.
A couple of things that I’ll do differently next time. First, I think I’ll use a tenderizer mallet to flatten the chicken breasts a little mroe. I also think that the slider would benefit from some other condiment. BBQ Sauce, mayo, etc.
Other than those few tweaks, this was a success and I’ll be doing this again.
Over the past few months, I’ve been reading about this technique on the interwebs. I’ve tried wrapping my brisket in foil before, but frankly I prefer to cook it unwrapped. Now keep in mind, I’m not cooking for competitions or trying to cook a brisket in a short amount of time (usually). However, there are times when I’d sure like to be able to do one in less than 12 hours.
So this past weekend, I decided that I would cook one brisket on Saturday using the butcher paper method. If that was successful, I’d cook one on Sunday morning for my annual Daytona 500 gathering. If it wasn’t successful, I’d still have time to cook one overnight on the Big Green Egg. Seemed like a reasonable plan, all except for the $45 practice brisket.
In general, wrapping your brisket (or ribs, etc) after a couple of hours helps the meat finish sooner. There is some science behind this around how connective tissues break down etc, but frankly if you’re reading this because you’re looking for the science behind the process you should stop now and move along to another blog.
Most often, you’ll see folks wrap brisket in foil. But recently the notion of wrapping in butcher paper has become popular. Part of the theory is that the paper provides the same benefit in terms of helping the meat finish sooner, without the braising effect of foil.
So, I prepped my brisket:
Cooked indirect at 325 degrees for 4 hours
At 4 hours, I wrapped in butcher paper. Didn’t check temp, but wrapped when the bark had the right “look” and placed the brisket back on the cooker.
I probed the brisket through the paper and when I thought it felt tender and the temp was 200 degrees plus, I pulled it. Total cook time was about 6 hours.
Here’s the brisket as I unwrapped it:
The results? It just wasn’t’ tender enough. You could say that I should have cooked it longer. Maybe, but it was also dry and if I’d cooked it longer it would have been even drier.
So the jury is still out for me. I don’t think this is a viable option for the Big Green Egg. I’ll try it again on the Backwoods Smoker and see if different cookers have different results. Stay tuned for more.
If you’re a serious backyard BBQ cook like me, you probably cook at home. In my neighborhood garbage pickup only happens once a week, and to make it worse it’s on Friday. That means this time of year, rib or brisket trimmings can sit in a garbage can in 90 degree heat for an entire week before the trash truck comes. Trust me, they can get pretty ripe in that time.
So I picked up this tip from some folks I know who are serious boaters. They have much the same problem when trying to manage garbage while underway for a few days at a time. It turns out, that all you need to do is make room in your freezer for the garbage that is likely to spoil or smell before it can be disposed of.
I’ve taken to double (or triple) bagging the trimmings and storing them in the extra refrigerator in my garage. Works like a champ, and now all I have to do is remember to put them in garbage on trash day.
Wow, I thought I had documented this but realized that I hadn’t. I’ve been asked this question a few times, and it’s one of the most common questions asked over on the Backwoods Forum. Nonetheless, it’s worth covering for the pursposed of the readers here on GrllandBarrel.com.
Here are the steps that I follow:
Load ‘er up! I won’t get into the benefits of briquettes vs. lump in this post, but suffice to say that I burn briquettes only in my Backwoods smoker(s). That’s right, just the plain ‘ol blue bag from the good folks at Kingsford. I find I get a much more consistent and longer burn (in this cooker) with briquettes.
Open both sliding vents and the top vent completely. Top door shoudl be copletely closed.
I light the charcoal with a MAPP Gas Torch in the right front corner of the charcoal pan. There are lots of ways to light the charcoal, but I find that a torch held in one spot for 60 seconds or so is enough to get it going.
I then shut the firebox door, but I do not latch it. This leaves it slightly ajar and allows for more air flow.
I leave it like this until the temperature reaches 200 degrees. This can take 30-45 minutes.
Then I add water to the water pan, shut the left rear vent completely, close the firebox door, and close the right front vent 1/2 way.
If you’re adding wood chips or chunks, do it now.
In this configuration, the smoker will be completely up to temp in 60-75 minutes.
A couple of thins to note. My Pro Jr takes longer to come up to temp than my Fatboy used to, but that’s to be expected given that it’s much larger. Additionally on the Pro Jr, I close the exhaust vent 3/4 of the way to maintain cooking temps at ~250 degrees. With the Fatboy, I left the exhaust wide open at all times.
That’s how I do it. But there are debates about adding water before lighting, type of charcoal, source of ignition, etc. Find what works for you and stick with it. It’s important that you get some kind of routine down that’s repeatable, even if it isn’t this one. That way, you’ll be able to plan for start times when you cook.
If you spend much time BBQing and your results don’t suck, you’re likely to have folks ask you to cook for them. Now this can be as simple as an extra side of ribs for the neighbor on a Sunday afternoon, or it could border on a catering job. Either way safe food handling is extremely important, since the last thing you want is to make someone sick.
Now I don’t advocate amateur catering. If you’re heading down that track, then by all means get a business license, health department trained and inspected, insurance, and do it right. But for the rest of us who may turn in an occasional BBQ competition entry or send BBQ to an ailing friend, here a few tips to make sure everyone stays safe.
Safe Food Handling Tips:
Refrigerate or freeze perishable food within 2 hours of shopping or preparing; 1 hour when the temperature is above 90 °F.
Find separate preparation areas in the work space for raw and cooked food.
Never place cooked food back on the same plate or cutting board that held raw food.
Wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils, and work surfaces frequently with hot, soapy water.
Keep hot food hot & cold food cold. You want to keep food out of the danger zone where bacteria can grow. The danger zone is from 40*-140*. This is important during preparation and transportation of food.
For God’s sake, wash your hands….often. It’s also a good idea to wear disposable gloves. They’re cheap.
And finally, WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT! Don’t take chances. Your health and that of your guests isn’t worth serving questionable food. You can always order pizza! =)
With the holidays approaching and lots of opportunities to share our favorite foods during family gatherings, workplace luncheons, and so on, these few simple tips will ensure that everyone stays safe.
Around my house my family only goes for one kind of steak, filet mignon. Well that can be a pricey proposition. In fact, the last time that I bought filets from the market they were running $23.95/lb. Not the kind of thing I can afford to do very often.
So, I’ve been thinking about picking up a whole tenderloin and trimming it myself. Today, I took the plunge and bought a small(ish) one at Sams Club. The thing weighed in at a little over 5 lbs. and was priced at $9.98/lb. Still expensive, but much more affordable than buying the steaks individually.
Now I’d never trimmed a tenderloin before but I figured, how hard can it be? Well the step by step guidance was just a quick Google search away. I should have known that I’d find all the video help I need on YouTube. There I found two different videos and after spending less than 10 minutes in front of my iMac, I was ready.
I had the tenderloin trimmed and cut into steaks in less than 20 minutes. I cut filets a little on the thin side since my family also thinks steaks (or any meat for that matter) should be well done and it’s tough to get a really thick steak done enough for them without charring the outside too much.
After marinating for about an hour, I put the steaks and baked potatoes on the Bubba Keg. Man, they were every bit as good as the $23.95/lb steaks that I’d gotten at the market before. And the best part is, I’ve got a nice piece of the tenderloin left. I plan to smoke it on Monday and cut it thin for sandwiches next week. I’ve got a taste for a steak panini. Stay tuned for that!
Here are links to a video that I found on Youtube.
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.
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.
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!