What temperature should I be cooking my meat to?
Can I do great pork cracking on an Egg?
Absolutely, but it’s harder than in a fan oven due to the amount of moisture the Big Green Egg retains while it is cooking. The key to success is:
- Always use decent pork from a butcher that has a good dry skin on it. Supermarket pork tends to be pumped full of water and then because the meat is vacuum packed, the water gets into the skin.
- Take your pork out of any wrapping and place overnight uncovered in a fridge to allow the skin to really dry.
- The skin needs to be scored deeply but not right into the meat. Get your butcher to do this for you or if you’re going to do it yourself get a really sharp knife. I use a Stanley knife from a DIY store, so much better than a kitchen knife and when it gets blunt you can always just replaced the blade.
- Use sea salt flakes such as Maldon salt to rub deep into the scored fat. If you want to flavour your meat a bit you can mix this with spices such a chopped fresh rosemary or fennel seeds.
- Apply a liberal costing of oil, I use olive, onto the fat and rub in.
- You now have two options in terms of getting the fat to crackle:
- Put the meat into a hot Egg (220C) and monitor it until the fat is blistered but not burnt, then turn the Egg down.
- Cook your meat and then at the end of the cook turn it up to 200C and wait for the crackling to form.
- I personally prefer the second method.
- If I’m cooking belly pork I will cook it for the majority of the cook fat side down as this achieves a better crackle.
- if none of this works take the skin off your joint and crackle it separately on your Egg at 220C but watch it like a hawk, it will burn easily.
How long should I rest meat for?
For faster cooks like steaks or chicken breasts, rest them for about half the length of time they took to cook. I wrap my meat in heavy duty foil. For longer cooks like a shoulder of pork or a Christmas turkey, rest them for at least an hour. Again wrap in foil but this time put them into a good cool box and cover the foiled joint in towels before closing the lid. A turkey will be piping hot after 2 hours, a pork shoulder joint will stay hot for 4 hours or more. Many cooks are now suggesting that a 4 hour rest for something like pulled pork improves the texture and flavour. It will also give you loads of time to prepare everything else for your dinner.
Temperature control, do I use the dual function metal top, the draft door or both?
How do you control the temperature on an overnight cook?
The Egg is a superb tool and will hold temperature all day long. However we’ve all be caught out once in a while when the temperature just drops or rises, or even worse the Egg goes out. It happened to me when I was catering for a cycle race. I got up in the morning to find not one, but three Eggs had all gone out and I have no explanation to this day why.
Since then I’ve used one of two devices:
- Wireless thermometer such as the Maverick 732. These devices are a bit like a baby monitor except you plug in two thermometer probes, one to measure the temperature of your BBQ and the other to measure the temperature of whatever you’re cooking. The base station then sends a signal wirelessly to the monitor end. You can set alarms to tell you when the BBQ is too hot or too cold or when your food is ready. This is a big leap forward and can give you peace of mind but it can also wake you up if your BBQ isn’t behaving.
- Forced air controllers such as the BBQ Guru DigiQ DX2 or the HeaterMeter. These devices have two probes or more to monitor your cook just like the wireless thermometer, however they also have a controller and a fan attached to your Egg draft door so that they blow in the perfect amount of air to hold your Egg exactly at the right temperature. They’re normally accurate to 1 or 2C. I’ve never had an issue with one of these and so they are my device of choice even though they are expensive.