What is the Big Green Egg?
In the life of every serious backyard chef, there comes a time when you have to break down and get hold of a serious backyard grill.
Some barbecue aficionados prefer dropping thousands of dollars on fancy, sleek, complex backyard kitchens — with grills from here to eternity packed with every feature you could possibly want. DVD players, wine chillers, expensive South American woods, modern styling . . . grills can get so fancy it’d be a shame to cook on them.
For those of you looking to kick up your backyard cookery game without taking on a second mortgage, or for those weekend warriors who don’t fancy spending their weekends behind a piece of machinery certified by NASA, there is the Big Green Egg.
The Big Green Egg is based on a Japanese style of cookery known as Kamado. These traditional Japanese vessels, usually made of wood or charcoal fired clay, were normally used as a stove or oven. Their adaptation to outdoor cooking has made them hugely popular among backyard chefs in the know. The Big Green Egg is not a traditional Kamado piece, as it is a high gloss ceramic grill. Still, it is based on these popular and nearly timeless pieces of equipment that are sweeping the country.
Okay, so why is the Big Green Egg such a hit? Besides the conversational value of the Big Green Egg’s odd shape (the name says it all), experts say that the ceramic composition of the grill imparts absolutely nothing to the flavor of what you’re grilling. Often, a metal grill (even the top of the line masterpieces mentioned above) will give your grilled food a not so delicious metallic flavor. When you combine the ceramic grill with a lump wood charcoal, as opposed to briquettes, you’re practically cooking on air. Another popular feature of the Big Green Egg (and other Kamado style grills) is its versatility. Sure its great for grilling, but Kamado grills are also great for baking bread, making pizza, or just about anything you could do in an oven.
The Big Green Egg maintains this versatility despite a compact shape that takes up a little less space than a traditional smoker. Kamado grills are famous for their ability to hit temperatures higher than 600 degrees, or maintain a temp as low as 200. That gives you an insane amount of control over the temperature of your food — it means you can sear a steak one minute and be ready to smoke a bigger piece of meat in very little time.
There are four sizes of Big Green Egg ranging from Extra Large to Small. According to the manufacturers, the most popular is the Large size, boasting an 18 inch diameter cooking surface . . . if that sounds small, think of it as 255 square inches of straight up grilling machismo. The large Egg can hold a twenty pound turkey, and if you’ve never had a turkey prepared in a grill, you’re in for a treat.
Want to get a look at the Egg? Check out their website — while you’re there, you can find an authorized dealer near you. Don’t expect to find an Egg, or any quality Kamado grill, at your local hardware store or big box monstrosity.
Some people may be a bit nervous about a ceramic shell — it may sound flimsy or insubstantial. But think about it — the ceramic shell on the Big Green Egg has to be strong enough to be able to withstand that extremely wide range of temperatures. One major benefit of the ceramic design is the heat trapped within the grill — because Kamado style grills are so efficient, you’ll be using less charcoal, even when compared to a similar sized grill.
The Big Green Egg is easy to use, according to reviews and posts made on the website’s public forum. The grillmaster in your home can control the heat by means of two vents — one in the bottom of the unit and another one on the top. Don’t let the simplicity of the vent system fool you, they may be user friendly but you give up nothing in the way of control.
The one major downside for me is the price tag. Big Green Egg grills are not cheap, however they are likely to last for a decade or more. The Large Egg clocks in at about $700, but if you own and use it for ten years, that’s a measly seventy bucks a year.
Versatile — works great as a smoker, grill, and even oven
Ceramic shell — holds heat in, doesn’t get hot to the touch
Double ventilation is easy to use and gives you perfect heat control
The grill’s stand is sold separately
Around $700 price tag
What you get —
Spring loaded lid — easy to open
Heavy ceramic shell stops annoying temperature changes
An easy to clean, glazed interior
255 square inches of cooking surface
Cast iron and steel vent construction
Easy to clean and quite effective porcelain and steel grill grates