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Richard's Big Green Egg Cooking Class - 9th June 2019

Picanha

REVERSE SEARED Tomahawk

The recipe is here for a reverse sear.

The technique we used here was a reverse sear where we slowly raised the temperature of the whole piece of meat by cooking it at 110°C until its internal temperature was 48°C. We then fired up the BBQ to about 250°C and seared the outside of the tomahawks before resting them for about 15 minutes and serving in slices.

The initial cook was indirect, we used the plate setter feet up with the stainless grid on top. To that we added the meat and cooked slowly until the core temperature reached 48°C (5°C lower than the temperature we were aiming for as the last 5°C would be achieved when we seared the meat).

We then removed the plate setter and opened the air vents to raise the temp to 250°C. We used the stainless steel grid to sear the steak for about 3 minutes on each side. We then rested it for about 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Picanha

Dirty Steak vs. Pan Cooked Rump

The recipe is here for the dirty steak.

We fired up the MiniMax as in order to cook steak dirty and using a cast iron pan.

Cooking the steak dirty adds a really meaty flavour to the steak, especially when it has a good fat contant. It’s also a little controversial when you have friends over. Very little ash sticks to the steak. I think it’s a great technique.

You can cook veg this way too. Daniel Clifford at Midsummer House in Cambridge cooks celeriac and beetroot directly on the coal, it’s divine. DJ BBQ does an amazing dirtly carrot recipe in his book Fire Food.

Cauliflower with Black Sesame and Truffle Oil Dressing

The recipe is here.

The technique here was to cook on the back side of the plate setter. All I did was wipe down the back of the plate setter with a dry paper towel or foil.

We set up the Egg to cook at 180-200°C with the plate setter feet down.

I cut the cauliflower into about 7mm thick slices all the way through the cauliflower. I 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 to sprinkle toasted black sesame seeds to give a little crunch.

Salmon

Cedar Planked Salmon

The recipe is here.

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 200°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, it will start to flake to the touch when it is pink, it will flake all the way through when it is totally cooked through (about 8-10 mins). Take off the plank with the grill grippers and put onto something heat proof.

Salmon

Apple Tarte Tatin

The recipe is here.

This was our last cook of the day.

We used one of the Tefal pans to make a caramel before addding the apples, butter and pastry. The caramel was cooked direct on the MiniMax, we then baked it (indirect) on the Large Egg. You could always do the first stage on the hob inside.

Don’t stir the caramel, it’ll crystallise. Just leave it until the colour starts changing.

Be careful with the flip at the end, hot caramel burns. Make sure you’re not under pressure with a big audience :-).

Salmon

Smoked Chocolate Brownie

The recipe is here.

Chocolate brownie cooked on the Egg with some cherry smoke is a little bit different. This recipe is very easy and served warm with ice cream, a stunner. 

Questions and Answers

What wood chips and chunks work with what meats?

I bought my Pink Butchers Paper from Amazon. Pink paper is brilliant for cooking brisket in after the stall has been passed through.

What wood chips and chunks work with what meats?

The following table will help you match foods to wood chips and chunks.

Wood flavours

Wood flavours

Wood chunks from Grilling Woods

We spoke about the company in Hertfordshire who produce and sell wood chunks and chip. They market under the name of Grilling Woods. It’s available from Amazon here.

Which Charcoal should I use?

Different charcoals will product different flavours. Some Eggers find the Big Green Egg charcoal quite smokey.

The Green Olive Firewood Company do charcoal that has a much milder smokey flavour. It’s made from SheOak. You need their restaurant grade lump wood charcoal. You may find though it coats your Egg with a layer of white ash. 

Stag Charcoal also produce some great stuff in Hertfordshire. Look for their single species Ash or Birch for a less smokey cook.

When you really get into BBQ then look at some of the excellent charcoal from the Oxford Charcoal company. They have a very good reputation for their single species charcoals. They have a great chart on matching wood to meats and fish.

I still use Big Green Egg’s charcoal. I find it very consistent and it burns really well. 

 

What do I do about warranty issues?

Any warranty claim should be made direct to info@alfrescoconcepts.co.uk and should include photos of the damaged/broken parts. 

The office normally turn these around next day.

What were the spices we used?

We used spices and rubs from Spice Punch. They are a local rub producer using only natural ingredients, no anti-caking ingredients. 

Where's the best place to buy sawdust for my ProQ Cold Smoke Generator?

My favourite place is HotSmoked.co.uk. You can use code MP10 to get 10% off your orders. 

They sell Wood dust.

They also sell bacon curing salts

Where did you get the oven gloves?

I bought the oven gloves from Amazon. They’re silicon and work brilliantly. 

You can buy them here.

Oven gloves 

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 do the tougher cuts of meat cook?
Slow Cooking Meat

Slow Cooking Tougher Cuts of Meat

How do I cold smoke food?

Smoking on the Egg over burning charcoal is called hot smoking. While this method is great, it’s no good if you don’t want to heat up the food you are smoking.

Cheese, smoked salmon and bacon all require a smoking process but don’t need to be cooked. To do this you need a cold smoker.

I use a product called the ProQ Cold Smoke Generator. It is a metal maze that you fill with sawdust and light a tealight under the maze.

ProQ Cold Smoke Generator

I place the ProQ into the bottom of my Egg on top of any unused charcoal. I then put the food to be smoked on the stainless steel rack above the smoker. I open the bottom vent of the Egg about 2 fingers and the daisy wheel at the top just a little.

I smoke most of my foods for about 10 hours (1 fill of the ProQ). If you like it more smokey you can run the process twice.

Cold smoking is best done when it’s cold outside (<15°C) so do it overnight or in the winter.

To make bacon buy a bacon cure from somewhere like HotSmoked.co.uk.

What should I do about rust on my daisy wheel?

If you get rust on your daisy wheel, give it a light scrub with a scourer. Then wipe with oil (vegetable or olive). Put the daisy wheel into your Egg after you have finished cooking. This will burn off any gunk and season your daisy wheel. 

The best place to store your daisy wheel is inside the Egg at the end of the cook. When you’ve finished cooking, take it off and put it inside. Use the snuffer cap (green ceramic one) to put your Egg out and weather protect it. 

If you’ve got the new rEGGulator, this is super seasoned and designed to stay on top of your Egg the whole time.

 

Beer can chicken, is it really as good as they say?

It’s a myth in my opinion. A chciken wrapped around a can will act as a cooling blanket. You’re going to take the chicken off the BBQ when it reaches 74°C. Therefore the liquid in the can is unlikely to get anywhere near boiling point.

Read this great article by Meathead from AmazingRibs.com.

I personally prefer to cook my chickens on the metal vertical chicken roaster. This allows air to flow inside the chicken cooking it from the inside and outside at the same time.

What's the best cooking temperature for steak?

I prefer to cook steak between 250°C and 300°C. I use the lower of the two temperatures for thicker steaks and the higher temp for really thin steaks where I want a very fast sear. 

My three favourite ways of cooking steak are:

  • Dirty – cooked directly on the charcoal
  • Seared – cooked on the cast iron searing grid to give the steak a criss-cross finish
  • In a cast iron pan – this will give a crust over the whole of the steak 

All three are great methods so give them all a go and find your favourite.  

How do I cure salmon and bacon?

I have put a full recipe up on my site for home cured salmon.

The best place to buy cures for bacon is from HotSmoked.co.uk. Supracure is what you need.

What dimensions does the hole in the table need to be?

If you’re going to build your own table then these plans will give you the key dimensions.

BGE Table Plans 

What was the coleslaw we had for lunch?

The coleslaw was a recipe from Reds True BBQ book I think. I can’t find the book so here is my take on the recipe:

  • 1/2 red cabbage sliced finely
  • 3 large carrots grated
  • 2 peppers (red, orange or yellow) sliced finely
  • Handful of chopped coriander
  • Red onion finely sliced (optional)
  • 2 fresh jalapeños deseeded and finely sliced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Juice 1/2 lime
  • 1tbsp quality dijon mustard
  • 4tbsp olive oil (light, not extra virgin)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Put it all in a bowl and give it all a good mix together. 

How do I cook Beef Short Ribs?

Beef short ribs are a great way to get into cooking low and slow beef. They’re normally nice and fatty and have the bone which can help protect them too. 

I just use a simple 50/50 Maldon Salt and coarse ground black pepper rub. 

Beef Short Ribs 

To cook them, setup your Egg to cook indirect at 110°C. They’re going to take about 10 hours before they reach the point where the connective tissue break down. This is likely to be around an internal temp of 92-95°C. 

A rack of these ribs like the one in the photo is called a Jacob’s Ladder.

How do I cook a turkey?

My turkey recipe is on Big Green Egg’s website.

Where did you get the sink unit and side tables?

I got the sink from GardenTrends.co.uk. It’s the Beefeater 1100 unit.

Beefeater 1100 Sink Unit

I got the Keter Unity side table from Argos in their sale for £50. I’m not sure thay are still selling these though.

Keter Side Table

I got the Keter Unity XL unit online from a garden center for about £200. This is now on Amazon at £177, a better price than I paid.

What online forums should I be involved with?

yThere are several great forums online (mostly on Facebook).

  • Nuts about barbecue – the smallest of the group but the one just for those of you who have been on a Meat Smoke Fire cooking class. This is the ideal place to ask questions related to what we learned in the class and also what to try next. 
  • Big Green Egg BBQers UK – dedicated to cooking on the Big Green Egg and hosted by a UK team. This is a superb source of information. I’m actively involved here. There is a US version but I tend to not pay it too much attention, they’re not as adventurous with their cooks across the pond on the whole so it gets very samey.
  • CountryWoodSmoke – UK BBQ – CWS – The UK’s best BBQ forum for every type of outdoor cooking. Again I’m actively involved. It’s run by a top bloke called Marcus Bawdon who has experience of cooking on just about everything. 

People to look out for and trust:

  • Bill Gardner
  • Mark Thomason
  • Julie Connor
  • Marcus Bawdon
  • Adam Flint 
Which are the good butchers to buy online from?

There are a number of good butchers online. These are the ones we talked about:

  • Turner and George – run by Richard Turner and James George. Richard is the executive chef for Pitt Cue and Hawksmoor. 
  • Philip Warren Butchers – based in Launceston, Cornwall; these guys supply many top restaurants. They’re two minutes off the A30 if you’re driving through Cornwall.
  • Hannan Meats – famous for their sugar pit pork. Worth a try.

 

Where can I source good seafood?

BarbequeBill (Bill Gardner) recommends and uses these guys all the time, The Cornish Fishmonger and has done for a good few years. He now writes for them.

 

What are the must have gadgets?

Here’s what I would buy with an Egg starting with the most important things:

How much longer does it take to cook a chicken in the Egg?

Because you are able to set the temperature of the Egg just as accurately as you can in the oven, the chicken will take pretty much the same time. It will however be far more moist and have a nice BBQ flavour. 

How do I get crackling when I'm cooking pork?

The key to crackling is to start with first class pork. Avoid vacuum packed pork from supermarkets or even bad butchers, you want the skin to be dry, not soggy. 

I leave my joint uncovered in the fridge overnight, this will dry the skin even further. When you’re ready to cook, pour boiling water over the scored skin, pat it dry and then coat with olive oil and maldon salt. Rub the salt into the scored skin. 

Cook your joint on the Egg. For belly pork I cook it skin side down. Towards the very end of your cook, if it hasn’t already crackled, turn your Egg up to 220°C and let it crackle the skin. It will do this in 15 mins. Keep checking it to make sure it’s not burning. 

Rest your joint loosely foiled.

Are there any Big Green Egg Cooking Books?

Big Green Egg do have some cooking books. They’re actually cheaper on Amazon than from Big Green Egg:

Having said that I don’t rate any of them. The recipes aren’t ones you are going to want to go back and do over and over. You’re much better off using recipes you can find on the web including this site.

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 I use wood chips or chunks and do I soak them in water?

The question about using wood chips and chunks and when to use them is a good one. If you’re happy with the level of smoke you’re getting from your charcoal then you don’t need to use chips and chunks. However if you want more smoke to your cooks you have the following options:

  • Change charcoal brands to something to suit your cook. See the next section about different charcoals. Some people will switch charcoal to a type to match their cook and then only use charcoal to get the flavour they are after.
  • Use chips – when you are doing shorter cooks you will get more smoke from chips.
  • Use chunks – ideally suited to longer cooks where you want smoke for a slightly longer period.

Remember meat takes on smoke when it is cooler and wetter. Therefore you need the smoke at the beginning of the cook. Therefore place your chips and chunks towards the centre of your Egg where the charcoal will be burning at the beginning of the cook.

Be sparing with your chips and chunks. I use less than a handful of chips or maybe just two chunks. Start light and build up to the level of flavour you want. A lot of people overpower their food with the smoke flavour, ruining it in my opinion.

Can I use my Egg undercover or indoors?

You should always use your Egg in a well ventilated area. However that doesn’t stop you using it under a parasol or roof. The amount of heat coming out of the top, even during lighting won’t burn a parasol in my experience. Open sided shelters are perfect.

Cooking indoors though isn’t recommended. You’ll see restaurants doing it but they have very powerful commercial ventilation systems and safety measures to make sure they don’t poison themselves. An Egg will produce carbon monoxide, which can kill if not ventilated properly. I would never recommend using an Egg indoors. As my wife always says, ‘you only need two accessories to cook outside all year round, an umbrella and a glass of wine’.

What Thermometers do I recommend?

You’d have heard me say several times in the class that I cook by temperature and not time. In order to do this you need a thermometer or two.

A Thermapen is my essential tool. That’s why I had my aprons designed with a Thermapen pocket. I wouldn’t be without mine. I personally sell the latest version as it’s waterproof and backlit. It’s so good I have one for classes and one for home use. Cheaper alternatives aren’t as accurate and don’t read temperature anywhere near as quickly, I therefore don’t use them.

The other Thermometers I showed you were the Meater, the wireless probe I used to cook the chickens and the beef. I am now a dealer of these and you will be able to buy the Meater+ in my shop. The block (4 probes) is still not available to the public and might not be until late summer. I may or may not stock this when it is available. 

Which way up do I put in the Plate Setter (or ConvEGGtor)?
On the whole I put the plate setter in feet facing upwards. The only exceptions to this are when I am cooking lamb or cauliflower. If you look at any of my recipes they will have a diagram showing you which way up to put the plate setter in.
How do I light my Egg?
Firstly make sure all the ash has been knocked off any old charcoal.

  • Top up the Egg with new charcoal to just above the line where the fire bowl and the fire ring meet.
  • Create a small indentation in the centre of the charcoal and put in just one lit fire starter.
  • Cover very loosely the fire starter with a few pieces of charcoal, you need to allow a good airflow.
  • Leave the lid open and open the bottom draft door. Leave your Egg for 10 minutes to allow the middle of the charcoal to get going.
  • After 10 minutes, close the Egg lid and open the cast iron top fully. Remember to position the screw towards you.
  • Leave the Egg closed for about 5 minutes until it hits 180°C and has started warming the dome.
  • You can now adjust your Egg to the temperature you want to cook at. See my temperature guide.

Do take a look at the Big Green Egg Tips Series. This video covers lighting your Egg,

What is a dirty steak?
Hopefully you found out at the class and fell in love with them. Essentially though a dirty or caveman steak is one that is cooked directly on the charcoal with no cooking surface.

A dirty steak should only ever be cooked on lump wood charcoal or burning untreated wood. Never make one on briquettes, your steak will end up being covered in the gritty material they are manufactured from.

What temperature do you cook steaks at?
My personal preference is to cook steaks at between 250°C and 300°C. Any hotter than this and you end up burning the outside before the middle is warmed, any cooler and you don’t get a lovely crust on your steak.

I cook thinner steaks at a hotter temp (300°C) while doing much thicker steaks at a lower temp (250°C). If my steaks are thicker than 1.5inches, I will then consider doing a reverse sear as we did with the picanha.  

Do you need to turn steaks?

This depends on how you are cooking them. If they are cooking dirty I will only flip them once, there’s no need to turn (rotate on the same side). For steak cooked on the cast iron grate I would turn it, to give nice sear marks. For steaks cooked on a cast iron plate then there is no need to turn but moving it once in a while might give you a better crust as you can move it to a piece of the plate the steak hasn’t cooled down.

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.
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.

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 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.

Equipment

Thermapen

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. Either way they will be shipped direct from ETI, the UK manufacturer.

Meater+

I I love the Meater+ as its app will estimate when your meat will be cooked and tell you when to take it off your Egg so that it doesn’t overcook. I wouldn’t be without a Meater. 

They are now available to buy in my store and I hold stock of these. Use discount code CLASS10 at the checkout.

 

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.

Bad Byron’s Butt Rub.

We’ve been using this rub at Big Green Egg in the UK as long as I have been working there. It’s not too sweet unlike the majority of the other rubs on the market, in fact it doesn’t contain any sugar at all. 

We use it on pork and beef. 

You can get it from Amazon using this link.

Leather Aprons

I’ve designed and had made my own Meat Smoke Fire branded leather aprons with a Thermapen pocket. They’re available in my online shop.

Cook Books

Food and Fire 

Launched this week this has to be one of the best BBQ books for simple but super tasty recipes. All of them could be done on the Egg. 

It’s by Marcus Bawdon who runs the forum CountryWoodsmoke on Facebook. Buy it today, you wont regret it.

Meathead

Meathead

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 from this link.

Meathead

Fire Food

Written by DJ BBQ (Christian Stevenson). DJ BBQ does a lot of cooking with Jamie Oliver. There are some fabulous and easy recipes in here.

There is a whole section on dirty cooking (cooking directly on the charcoal). I have done the dirty carrots and can highly recommend them. The book was only published recently.

It’s available on Amazon from this link.

Meathead

Food DIY

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 from this link.

Food DIY

Low and Slow

Neil’s book and his restaurant Temper are worth a look. Neil will often do things very differently, like take meat out of the fridge and cook directly without bringing to room temp.

It’s available on Amazon from this link.

Meathead

The Burger Book

I've just bought this book. I was sceptical about how good a book could be on just burgers, how wrong I was. There are tonnes of ideas in here. It's by Christian Stevenson, A.K.A. DJ BBQ. He's done a lot of work with Jamie Oliver and can often be seen on the TV in a full stars and stripes spandex outfit, odd but funny.

It's available on Amazon from this link.

Meathead