What’s Cookin’ In The Big Green Egg

Jo McGarry
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Wednesday - November 30, 2011
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Arlon Walston. JoMcGarry photo

I hope your Thanksgiving turkeys turned out well. Much like you, I’m sure, we use different cooking techniques each year and then try to remember which ones we liked best. Deep-frying was a favorite for a few years, and once in a while we’ll deep-fry a second, smaller turkey, just in case the big one doesn’t come out perfectly.

This year we tried a drybrine in favor of a wet one and the massive bird turned out just fine. For Christmas, however, I’m looking forward to some serious smoking and grilling. I’ve been seduced by an appliance that is fast becoming a serious contender for favorite, must-have kitchen accessory of all time: The Big Green Egg. The name prepares you for the look of this charcoal grill the largest is 24 inches in diameter and can comfortably handle two 20-pound turkeys at once but nothing prepares you for the way it cooks.

Arlon Walston of POP Fishing and Marine on Pier 38 has been using an Egg for the past year and says it’s quite simply the best way to smoke, barbecue, grill or bake.

“Anything you can do on a stove or in a conventional over you can do here,” he says.

Those who’ve cooked using a traditional komado know how moist and tender the clay cooking pots render meats, but the problem with the komado was always temperature control and the way the clay eventually cracked.

The Big Green Egg addresses both problems with temperature gauge and air vents to control cooking, and a ceramic exterior to avoid cracks. It couldn’t be easier to use. Throw in some charcoal, wait for the right temperature and leave it alone.

“The biggest problem with outdoor cooking has always been temperature control,” he says. “This way you can adjust the temperature within a couple of degrees and leave it that way for hours.”

To prove the point, Arlon’s been cooking up some serious pork butts recently. Almost without doing a thing.

“A 7-pound pork butt takes 12 hours and comes out perfectly,” he says, holding up a snack-size plastic bag to show how little charcoal is burned during the process.

“The charcoal used is highly efficient,” he says, “and there’s minimal burning during the cooking process, so you don’t have to keep adding charcoal or looking under the lid.” And control adds to the ultimate flavor of the food.

“The flavors are highly intensified,” he enthuses. “There’s absolutely nothing we’ve made that isn’t absolutely fabulous.”

The BGE comes in five different sizes from a small, semi-portable 9-inch diameter grill, to the extralarge 24-inch all guaranteed not to crack. Prices begin at $450.

“There’s a lot of capacity, a lot of scope for different users,” Arlon says, adding that people who start using one find it hard to step back inside and use a conventional oven. With the old komado you wouldn’t exactly want to use it every night,” he says, “but with the Egg, people really do want to use it for every meal. Even the pizza we make in it (on a pizza stone accessory) is incredible.”

I wandered over to chat with chef Nico Chaize to see how construction on the gorgeous new Pier 38 is coming along. Nico was raving about the Big Green Egg, too: “It’s incredible.”

Happy eating!

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