'Civilised BBQ' Big Green Egg Cooking Class at The Gog

Civilised BBQ at The Gog

These are the links to the recipes we cooked:

Questions and Answers

Can you cold smoke on the Egg?

If you’d like to make your own charcuterie or smoked salmon then you can use the Egg to smoke meat using a ProQ Cold Smoke Generator.


This will allow you to smoke meats for up to 10 hours per fill. You can use different wood dusts and I find the ones from HotSmoked.co.uk to be the best. You can even try discount code MP10 to get 10% off.

To cure salmon I use a 50/50 mix of sugar and salt for between 4 and 6 hours on the salmon. The recipe is here.

To get into curing meats there are a number of useful books. I started after reading Tim Hayward’s book, Food DIY.

How do you keep the Plate Setter clean?

I’m not one of these people that worries about fat getting on the plate setter. However some people like to foil the plate setter.

If you do get fat on the plate setter, the easiest way of cleaning it, is just to burn everything off with the Egg set to 350°C.

Do you use the top or bottom vent to control the temperature?
I recommend using both the top and bottom vents together to control the temperature.

See my page on setting the temperature on your Big Green Egg.

Do you use a forced air controller?
A forced air controller is a digital controller for your Egg with a fan that will blow the perfect amount of air into the Egg to maintain the temperature of the Egg at a level you set. Essentially it’s a thermostat for the Egg. There are a number on the market:

  • BBQ Guru DigiQ DX2 – the one sold by Big Green Egg. This is now quite dated but it is very effective. I have one of these.
  • Flameboss 300 – this is similar to the DigiQ but with the addition of Wifi and an app that lets you control the cook from your phone or a web browser. While it’s good it’s not as accurate in my opinion as the DigiQ but the Wifi means I would choose this over the DigiQ. I have one of these.
  • HeaterMeter – this is one you build yourself (see HeaterMeter.com). You can buy all the components online and then 3D print a case and fan enclosure. It uses the Raspberry Pi that kids are using in schools. I’ve made several of these and use them regularly.

Kamado Joe are about to launch the iKamand but initial reports haven’t been very good. I’d avoid this one until version 2 comes out.

There is also a device called a SMOBOT that can be imported, it’s not available in the UK. It attaches to the daisy wheel and will control the temp without a fan. It’s proving very popular but Big Green Egg are launching a new style cap and it won’t work with that.

When do you use a stainless grid compared to the cast iron grid?

The stainless grid is used for direct cooks, especially for cooks where you don’t want the food to stick. I’d use it for:

  • Sausages and burgers
  • Chicken
  • Veg

The cast iron grid is brilliant for searing so it’s main use is when you need to add sear lines to food such as:

  • Steak
  • Chicken breasts
  • Fish (use wider bars on the back)
  • Vegetables (use wider bars on the back)

For indirect cooks I always use the stainless steel grid.

How long does Lamb take to cook?
This really depends on the cut of lamb and how you want it cooked.

  • For steaks and chops where you might want to serve them medium rare this will take just a few mins – your’e aiming for an internal temp of 58°C
  • For a shoulder of lamb it will take about 10 hours to cook to 88°C on an Egg set to 110°C.
  • For a rack of lamb like we cooked you’re looking at about 18-20 minutes depending on the size, again you’re looking to measure the internal temp.
How do I cook a steak?

There are several different ways of cooking a steak and it will depend on the type and size of the steak.

  • Normal thin steak – cook it on a searing grid at 250-300°C for a couple of minutes a side.
  • Thick steaks over 1.5″ thick – I would do a reverse sear on one of these where you cook the steak slowly on the Egg until it’s 5°C cooler than you want it, you then fire up the Egg to 250°C-300°C and sear it at the end.
  • Steaks where you want a crust – cook them in a very hot cast iron pan with a little oil or butter.

The best way is to try several different methods, and try them many times. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it.

Am i wasting charcoal cleaning it out every time I cook?
Yes, absolutely. The Egg is designed to be snuffed out after use and then the remaining charcoal used during the next cook.
What's the secret to a crispy base on a pizza?

There are several factors involved in creating a crispy base on your pizza:

  1.  Roll your pizza base thin.
  2. Make sure your pizza stone is nice and hot along with the rest of your Egg.
  3. Less is more when it comes to topping and sauce.
How do i tie a butchers knot?
The easiest way is to get someone else to do it in my experience. Buy your meat from The Gog and ask Miles to do it.

However there is a great video that I mentioned. Let me know if you have more success than I’ve had (zero).

What can I do with my plate setter that has a broken leg?
There are a couple of things to do and neither of them is to throw it away:

  • Big Green Egg are launching the EGGspander system that will have a basket with handles that your plate setter can be put into. You no longer need the legs to support the next layer. It’s due shortly.
  • There is a high temp glue called JB Weld that a number of the American Eggers have used very successfully.
Which wood chips and chunks pair with which foods?
  • Hickory – good allrounder and not too bitter.
  • Jack Daniels Chips – quite strong so good with red meats.
  • Maple – mild to medium with slight sweetness so good with poultry and cheese.
  • Mesquite – strong and spicy, great with spiced meat or poultry and oily fish.
  • Oak – heavy smoke flavour but great with most red meats.
  • Olive – light but very aromatic and so good with red meats, poultry and veg.
  • Orange – citrus and tangy, good with fish and poultry.
  • Pecan – sweet nutty smoke, good with desserts, game, meats and fish.
Why am I having issues lighting my Egg and getting the temperature up?
To light an Egg you need three things:

  1. Fuel – lump wood charcoal
  2. Oxygen – air
  3. Heat

If you’re struggling to get the Egg lit and up to temperature fast it’s likely to be one of these three things lacking. Causes could be:

  • Your charcoal is damp, make sure you always keep it inside out of the rain and dew.
  • There isn’t enough airflow:
    • You may need to clean your Egg. I recommend taking the ash out of your Egg every 5 or 6 cooks using the ash tool and doing a total clean, lifting the ceramics out, every 12-15 cooks.
    • The charcoal you are using has too many smaller pieces, these will block the airflow.

It’s good practice to keep your Egg clean.

Cleaning your Egg
It’s essential you clean your Egg or all the vents will get clogged with ash and you’ll not be able to get it up to temperature.

  • Every cook – rake the left over charcoal from the previous cook and let it fall down into the bottom of the Egg.
  • Every 5 or 6 cooks – clear the ash from the bottom of your Egg using an ash tool. If you are going to hoover it out, make sure the ashes are cold, I have a customer who set fire to her Henry vacuum cleaner because the ash was still hot the following day.
  • Every 12-15 cooks – lift out all the internals of your Egg and give everything a brush down with a dustpan and brush.
I'm doing an overnight cook at 110°C, how do i light it and get my Egg to 110°C?

I always light my Egg by putting a single lighter block into the middle of the charcoal and then covering it when lit with a couple of pieces of charcoal. Leave the lid open for 10 minutes and then pull the lid shut and open the top fully and let the Egg get to 180°C to warm up the dome. 

Now put in the plate setter and stainless grid and adjust the top and bottom to reduce the temperature, is the 110°C settings on my temperature guide. If the temp falls below 110°C then open up the vents until it recovers to 110°C.

Is there any advantage to making sauce in the egg?
Anything cooked in the Egg is going to take on a very slight smokey flavour. The intensity of this flavour is going to depend on what charcoal you’re using. Big Green Egg’s charcoal is purely oak and hickory and has a strongish flavour. Use companies like Oxford Charcoal to get different blends or even single species charcoal.

Treat your charcoal as one of the ingredients of your cook.

When do I cook direct vs. indirect?
The way I like to think of this is that if you could cook whatever you’re cooking on the hob inside, then it’s a direct cook. If you need to cook it in the oven then it’s an indirect cook and you need to use the plate setter,

Obviously some things could be done either way, sausages for example. It’s the same inside, sausages can be cooked in a pan or baked in the oven.

Which way up do you use a plate setter? When do you use it feet down?
On the whole I use the plate setter feet up. The only time I will use it feet down is when I am cooking on the back of it. Great cooks to do on the plate setter are French Trimmed Rack of Lamb and my Truffle Oil and Black Sesame Cauliflower. You really must try both of these dishes, they’re amazing.
When do you start timing a cook, when you put the meat in or when the Egg has got back to temperature?
While timing a cook is a good indicator, it’s much better to check the temperature of most cooks to see if something is done. For example I’ll cook a chicken until the temperature in the thickest part of the meat is 74°C.

I always have a Thermapen handy to check the temperature. I also use the Thermoworks Smoke when doing longer cooks as I can leave this attached to the Egg and a probe in the meat. I can then monitor the cook from the other end (like a baby monitor).

How do you know which meat needs what temp?
There is a great chart from AmazingRibs.com that shows you all the best cooking temperatures for meat. I use a ThermaPen to measure the temperature of anything I am cooking.

Cooking temperatures

How long does the pizza stone take to heat up?
Your pizza stone is going to take about 20 minutes to heat up when your Egg is to temperature.

When cooking pizza I prefer to have the plate setter feet up, the stainless grid on top and then the baking stone. The gap between the plate setter and the pizza stone will stop the pizza stone getting too hot and burning the bottom of your pizza base before the top is cooked.

Do you ever wash the equipment?
The only piece of kit in your Egg you should consider washing is the stainless steel grid. It’s OK to put this through the dishwasher.

Never wash any of the cast iron parts or the ceramic parts. Washing the cast iron will cause it to rust. Ceramic is porous and would soak up the water and could then cause damage to your Egg if it was heated rapidly, turning to steam.

To clean your Egg just turn it up to 350°C and it will burn off all the fats. Just wait until any smoke has stopped and you’ll find everything is clean.

I keep all my cooking surfaces and the metal daisy wheel inside the Egg, it’s the best place for them. You can put them straight in after a cook, even with the Egg hot.

Can you cook on higher temp for shorter time?

Yes, you can cook a joint of meat faster at a higher temperature but the results may not be as good. For example, when I cook a 3Kg pork shoulder it may take up to 19 hours to cook at 110°C. However at 120°C the same piece of meat would probably cook in 12 hours. The difference in cooking at a higher temperature is that you will have more air flowing past your food and drying it out. I prefer to cook at 110°C, the results are better.

What's the difference between loin and sirloin?
The loin and the sirloin are just different names for the same cuts but from different animals. The loin in a lamb is called the loin but when it’s beef we call it the sirloin. They both come from the same part of the animal.
Where is neck fillet in a lamb?
The lamb neck fillet sits on the shoulder joint of the lamb. At The Gog they leave it attached to the shoulder but many other butchers would take it off. In the photo below the neck fillet is the round muscle running along the right hand side.

lamb, neck

lamb, neck



If there is one tool you have then I recommend it be the Thermapen. These handheld probe thermometers will transform the way you cook as you’ll know when something is ready rather than having to guess. I use the MK 4 version as it’s waterproof and has a backlit display that rotates so it’s always easy to read. You can buy them direct from my site or from Amazon. Either way they will be shipped direct from ETI, the UK manufacturer.

Thermoworks Smoke

The Thermoworks Smoke is my favourite wireless thermometer. One end is left by your BBQ and the other end you can take with you inside to monitor how the cook is going. It’s a brilliant product, very well made and easy to use. There are cheaper alternatives on the market but they’re not easy to use and the probes are poor quality.

Remember always bring the wires out of your Egg over one of the legs of the plate setter.

You can buy these from Amazon.

Tefal Ingenio Pans

I used these during the class to cook the sauces for the wings and for the pizza. They have removable handles and are really solid. I wouldn’t be without mine.

You can get them from Amazon using this link.

Korean Pastes

As I said in the class you can get these in several shops along Mill Road in Cambridge. The Korean Supermarket always have them.

You can also get them posted from Amazon. The chilli paste is here and the Soya bean paste here.

Private Classes

If you want to learn more and spend a day cooking using a lot of different techniques then you might want to think about one of my private classes. A typical day would involve the following techniques:

  • Reverse Sear – cooking a Picanha, a Brazilian cut of rump
  • Searing – both on the cast iron grid and dirty using rib-eye steaks
  • Planks cooking – hot smoking salmon on a cedar plank
  • Plancha cooking – cooking a French trimmed rack of lamb and some cauliflower directly on the plate setter
  • Baking – rosemary and Maldon salt focaccia
  • Pan cooking – an apple tarte tatin

The Uk's largest repository of recipes designed for the Big Green Egg

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LetzQ Spit with pork
French trimmed rack of lamb
Venison Wellington
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General class information

  • Group classes at our base just outside Cambridge.
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  • Focused purely on the Big Green Egg.
  • Hands on, you're cooking.
  • Established in 2015.

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Emma and Matt Willis

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