Big Green Egg Cooking Class with Jon Abando
This was the first cook of the day. We took the fabulous Picanha you’d sourced and just gave it a sprinkle of Maldon salt.
The Egg was setup with the plate setter feet up with the stainless grid on top. We cooked this on my MiniMax at approximately 110°C for about one hour. The aim here was to bring the whole joint to 5°C below the target temperature, take it off and rest it while we raised the temperature and setup of the Egg to 250°C and direct cooking, before searing the outside of the joint.
We learned that if resting for an even longer period it may be sensible to take the meat off at 8°C below target temperature as our cook went slightly over. However it was still one of the most amazing pieces of beef.
Lamb rack, French Trimmed
This would be a great recipe to do with the cauliflower as it also can be cooked on the back of the plate setter (or a ceramic plancha).
Again we setup the Egg in an indirect configuration with the plate setter feet down. We set the temperature of the Egg to 180-200°C.
We scored the fat of the lamb rack in a diagonal pattern with the scoring about 3/4 cm apart. I then added a tiny bit of oil and generously seasoned the lamb fat with maldon salt.
We then cooked this directly on the plate setter, fat side down for about 15 minutes. At the last minute we turned the lamb to add a little bit of sear to the edges. We used a small piece of foil to support the lamb when it wanted to fall over.
The technique here was to cook on the back side of the plate setter. Your plate setter was perfectly clean, sometimes I would give it a little wipe down first with paper towel.
We set up the Egg to cook at 180-200°C with the plate setter feet down.
We cut the cauliflower into about 7mm thick slices all the way through the cauliflower. We removed most of the really thick bit of stalk before cooking. I then added a touch of oil and some maldon salt to the slices (on both sides) and placed them directly onto the plate setter. We then cooked them for about 5 minutes on each side until they start to turn golden brown.
To this we added the dressing. A great addition is toasted black sesame seeds to give a little crunch.
This Italian bread is really simple to make and an easy first go at baking on the Egg.
Make a batch of my basic bread recipe and let it rise. Knock it back and split into two portions. Push out each of these dough balls into the bottom of a 30cm x 20cm baking pan, lightly oil the top and cover with cling film. Put to one side to allow it to rise again.
When ready poke it with your fingers to make the dimples. Drizzle generously with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and herbs (we used rosemary).
Setup your Egg for an indirect cook with the plate setter feet up, stainless steel grid on top and the baking/pizza stone on top of that. Get your Egg to 220°C and give the baking stone a while to heat up (we didn’t leave it long enough).
Cook your focaccia in the tin on the baking stone for about 15 minutes until it’s both golden brown on the top, but also crunchy on the bottom. Allow it to cool on a wire rack before serving.
I find a tiny bit of olive oil in the tin not only allows the bread tp release from the tin nicely, it also adds a golden crisp to the bottom of the bread.
The plank is designed to smoulder while the salmon roasts on top of it, taking on the wood flavour as it cooks.
Soak the planks in water for at least 1 hour before you use them. You can also soak them in other liquids such as:
- Beer, lager or cider.
- A dilution of citrus juice.
Get your Egg to 180°C in a direct setup with just the stainless or cast iron grids. Dry the side of the plank, you will put the fish on for about a minute by placing it cooking side down on the Egg.
Take your salmon fillets and place them skin side down onto the plank. Use the grill gripper to move the plank onto the Egg. I put a slice of lemon onto the salmon to show the smoke, not to add flavour. It looks pretty though.
Cook until the salmon has firmed up enough to show it is cooked (about 8-10 mins). Take off the plank with the grill grippers and put onto something heat proof. Move the lemon or lime slice slightly to show the smoke colouration on the salmon.
What a treat and I learned just how much meat I have been missing out on from the hard to get to spots, the youngest persons treat!
After dispatching the lobster we cooked it over a direct heat using just the cast iron searing grid. The Egg was set to about 200°C.
For this cook we only cooked the lobster shell side down. While this worked it meant the head of the lobster didn’t cook at the same speed as the tail. As shown in the picture I tend to start the cook meat side down and then flip the lobster.
Cooking time is going to depend on the size of the lobster, what you’re aiming for is for the meat to firm up but not dry out. The Egg is therefore the perfect tool for this.
We cooked the Iberico pork two ways, directly on the cast iron grate on the MiniMax and dirty on the large Big Green Egg.
For the standard method I setup the Egg at about 250°C with the cast iron searing grid. I alway leave this for about 10 minutes to really heat up before cooking on it. I then cooked the pork for about 2 minutes on each side, turning 90° after about 30 seconds to get crossed sear marks.
You cooked the dirty pork on the Large Big Green Egg. For this we firstly raked the charcoal in the Egg to knock off any ash. We then just threw the pork onto the coals. This was cooked for about 2 minutes a side, turning once.
We could have cooked this slightly less as the pieces were thinner than those cooked on the MiniMax. However everyone still really enjoyed this.
What temperature should I cook at?
The following chart shows meat cooking temperatures depending on your cut of meat and your preferred level of cook:
What settings are needed for specific temperatures?
Setting the temperature on your Egg will vary slightly from Egg to Egg. However for a large Big Green Egg the settings are roughly as per the guide I have put together.
Rest your meat
Always remember to rest your meat after cooking it. This give the structure time to relax and reabsorb moisture. It will make your meat taste far more tender and juicy.
There is a great article discussing whether this is a myth but I still like to rest my meat: http://amazingribs.com/tips_and_technique/mythbusting_resting_meat.html
When you do a reverse sear as we did for the Picanha, bring the temperature of the meat to 5°C less than you require it to be when finished. This is because the sear process will raise the temperature by another 5°C. For example, for a medium cooked steak you want it to be 63°C, therefore cook it until is has an internal temperature of 58°C before searing it.
Using Planks Multiple Times
A great technique for prologing the life of your planks is to soak them overnight in lieu of them being soaked in just water, add flavourings to the water. Great flavourings are:
- Lemon and lime – lovely citric flavours go well with fish
- Beer, cider and lager
Now instead of using the planks directly over the charcoal, use your ConvEGGtor (plate setter) feet up with the stainless steel grid and place the planks onto the stainless grid. You’ll still get the wood flavouring but it won’t burn your planks away.
Remember always place your planks onto a heat resistant surface when you take them off the Egg.
Using a cool box to rest meat
A cool box makes a brilliant tool to store your meat while it’s resting. It will keep it hot for longer periods too. I’ve kept 13Kg of pork piping hot for over 10 hours before.
Once your meat is cooked, wrap it in several layers of aluminium foil and place it into your cool box. Cover then with bath towels and then shut the lid. Make sure you use old towels as you’ll never get the smell of BBQ out of them!
Cleaning your Egg
The Egg doesn’t need to be cleaned that often but it is essential. If you ever notice your Egg isn’t heating up properly it will be because it needs a good clean.
Clean the ash from your Egg every five or so cooks. Use the ashtool to do this.
Every 12-15 cooks take the whole of the inside of your Egg out and brush down with the dustpan and brush. Some people hoover out their Eggs but if you do this make sure it is cold, I had a customer set her Henry on fire.
Rust on your Egg cast iron cap and searing grid
Any cast iron product benefits from being treated to a little oil and then heated so the oil smokes and burns off. I tend to just use olive oil. I wipe down my dual function metal top (daisy wheel) with paper towel that is dipped in olive oil and then put it into a hot Egg when it’s been turned off. This will be enough to prevent rust.
You’ll need to repeat this process a couple of times a year.
We cooked using the Thermoworks Smoke when we cooked the Picanha. Sadly it’s only available in the US still. Your Big Green Egg wireless thermometer is a very suitable alternative, it’s just a little more complicated.
The HeaterMeter is the device I told you about that controls the Egg using a fan attached to the draft door. It’s controllable via the device itself but also by a web browser. It will graph your cooks. They cost about £180 to make.
Big Green Egg do a similar device called the DigiQ. It’s more limited as it’s not WiFi enabled but it is excellent. I have one and still use it. It costs £250 now, £100 cheaper than last year.
For longer cooks these are superb as they take full control of your Egg.
Pans with handles that clip on and off
I didn’t show you these, but I think they are brilliant. They’re a product from Tefal that I picked up several years ago in France before I got into the Big Green Egg as they were perfect for the camper van. They’re called Tefal Ingenio and are available in the UK now from Amazon.
The handle clips on and off easily so you pop the pan in the Egg and take the handle off. I use mine all the time. They’re great for cooking tarte tatin.
Witloft Leather Apron
My leather apron was from Witloft. I imported mine from the Netherlands but they now have UK dealers. Big Green Egg sell them. I’m also in touch with the importer so let me know if you would like one.
Recommended Cook Books
This is by Meathead Goldwyn, the man behind the AmazingRibs.com website. It’s got some really good stuff on technique as a well as some good recipes. It’s available on Amazon.
Tim Hayward is a Cambridge based food writer, restauranteur and chef. He’s judged on the BBQ scene. His book contain loads of great curing recipes as well as BBQ stuff. I really love it and use the recipes all the time. It’s available on Amazon.
Big Green Egg Chef Book
This is the latest cook book from Big Green Egg. It starts with easier methods and then moves onto chef technique. It was written by Big Green Egg in The Netherlands but translated into English. The photography is lovely. It’s available on Amazon and cheaper there than at BigGreenEgg.co.uk.