The Essential Accessories
It’s realy tempting to go out and buy a tonne of accessories to go with your new Big Green Egg, we’ve all been tempted. I would advise you to get used yo your Egg first, then decide what you’re going to make use of before you go on an expensive shopping spree.
Having said that there are a few accessories that will transform the way you cook. I’ve tested many products since I started and these are the ones I use now. If they’re first class, I’ll stock them in my shop. If they’re trash, I’ll tell you.
Cook to temperature, not time
For those of you who’ve been on one of my cooking courses, you’ll have heard me talk about cooking to temperature, not time. Essentially a piece of meat, or even a cake, is ready when it reaches a certain temperature, not how long it’s been cooked for.
A supermarket chicken will tell you to cook it for so long per kilogram plus 20 minutes, for example. This time will have been designed to ensure the chicken is over cooked, way past a safe cooked temperature. A chicken is cooked when the coldest part is 74°C or higher. You’d probably find following the supermarket guidelines would have the chicken at 90°C or above.
The best way to check this is with a probe thermometer like the one pictured, the Thermapen Professional. The probe can be used to test various parts of the food being cooked to see if it is done. If you only buy one accessory, this should be it.
The beauty of the Thermapen Professional is it’s very fast to react compared to other cheaper products. This means you haven’t got your hand in a hot BBQ while you wait for the thermometer to take a reading. The Thermapen Professional also has a display that rotates to always be the correct way up, a backlight and it’s waterproof. The last feature is essential for me as you will one day leave it outside next to the BBQ while it’s raining.
This maybe slightly more than some other thermometers but I always say if you buy cheap you’ll buy twice. I did a lot of buying before I found this product.
Big Green Egg sell several probe thermometers, don’t buy them, they’re just not the same quality as the Thermapen Professional.
If you only buy one accessory, this should be it.
Monitor that cook from somewhere comfortable, less essential, more practical
Sticking with cooking to temperature, it’s sometime really nice to have an idea of what is going on with your cook, without having to open the BBQ lid and use your probe thermometer. In the last few years, products in this area have really evolved.
I started using the Maverick 732. This is categorised as a wireless thermometer, it’s anything but. The wireless piece refers to monitoring screen that can be taken with you, leaving the first part of the unit next to your BBQ with wired probes going inside the BBQ to monitor the meat temperature and the temperature of the BBQ. While this is a great concept, the wired probes fail regularly, they’re not that accurate and the devices themselves are fiddly to operate. The ThermoPro thermometers are just a ruggedised version on the Maverick and still prone to probe issues.
If you want to go down this route then the best product out there in my opinion is the Thermoworks Smoke.
My favourite products in this sector though are the MEATER+ and MEATER Block. These are truely wireless, using Bluetooth to connect from the probe to the wooden base station and then Bluetooth to your phone for the MEATER+ and Wifi for the MEATER Block.
The MEATER+ is sufficient for most people as one end of the probe reads your meat temperature, the other end measures your BBQ temperature. Their software is just brilliant too making cooking a doddle.
I expect them to release a fan unit in 2020 to turn the MEATER in to a forced air controller, watch this space.
Turn your Egg into an oven
In my opinion the ConvEGGtor shouldn’t be an accessory, it’s essential to take full advantage of your Egg. It’s the piece that turns your Egg from being a normal BBQ to being an oven, capable of cooking chunks of meat, whether that be hot and fast or low and slow.
The way I think of the ConvEGGtor is if you could cook what you intentend to cook in a pan on the hob then your don’t need one. If though you would normally cook whatever you’re going to cook in the oven, then you need to use a ConvEGGtor to push the heat up and around your food and not burn the bottom.
In 2018 Big Green Egg launched the EGGspander system. While this might look quite complicated, it makes taking the ConvEGGtor in and out of your Egg so much easier. I also love the fact I can buy a half moon ceramic plate and have half my Egg cooking direct and half indirect. If you’re interested in this drop me an email and I can advise the best setup.
A good set of gloves
Your going to be taking things on and off the Egg and some of the time they’re going to be very hot. You need some oven gloves.
These fall into two categories:
- Cloth gloves with a non stick pattern printed on them. They’re normally made of something like nomex. They work but the downside to them is if you get them wet and then pick up something really hot, the dampness may turn to steam and scould you. I avoid these.
- Silicon gloves. This type are my preferred option. While you might have slightly less feel with these, I have never burnt or scoulded myself.
While the ones from Big Green Egg are really good, they’re also very expensive. For less than the price of one glove from Big Green Egg you can buy a pair of gloves that are equally as good. I use these Sili Mitts in all of my classes and can’t fault them (CURRENTY OUT OF STOCK).
I have just bought a pair of these YHK Silicon Oven Mitts as they looked identical to the Sili Mitts I’ve used. They’ve arrived and I can say the silicon part is identical. The cuff is very slightly different but otherwise they are also brilliant.
Nothing make BBQ worse than a set of cheap, flimsey tongs. The ones I use are from Big Green Egg but unfortunately they stopped making the good ones. Their new ones are OK but I don’t like a silicon end on mine.
These Weber tongs from Amazon look like my Big Green Egg ones.
Vertical Chicken Roaster
There’s no gadget simpler or more effective. Roasting a chicken vertically helps it cook from the inside as well as the outside. The resulting cooked chicken is super moist.
Don’t do the beer can chicken, it’s not safe. Do it this way with a vertical chicken roaster.
A nice set of pans
We first ran into these Tefal Ingenio pans when were were looking for some pans for our campervan. Because space is limited these were perfect as the handles remove and they all stack inside each other. Later I started using them on the Egg and have never looked back. We use them all the time, even the non-stick frying pans, I love making paella and tarte tatin in them.
If you can get the stainless steel ones. I really believe they are worth the extra money, they’re so solid ours are going strong almost 10 years later.
I’ve tried the Amazon copy of these, they’re useless, not even working on an induction hob despite being sold as induction compatible. They’re so much more flimsey and the handle mechanism is very poor.
A vacuum sealer
It’s taken me a while to add this to the page, but it’s one of the most used gadgets in my kitchen when using the Big Green Egg.
We buy our chickens whole and then portion them, it’s so much cheaper. We use the vac-pac to seal the portions we don’t need that day and freeze them. If we’ve cooked a brisket, we’ll vac-pac and freeze the majority, ready to reheat for some of our fantastic brisket kebabs.
The right tools for the job
Being a product from America, the Egg comes with fittings that are Imperial in size, not metric.
To put your Egg together and occasionally make adjustments, it’s a great idea to have the right sized spanner set. This set contains the ones you need and is pretty cheap, it would be a good investment at less than £10.