If you have purchased or are thinking about buying a Big Green Egg as your new outdoor cooking system then there are a few important things you need to know. Most importantly is how to start the Big Green Egg. We will go through the process so that you know exactly what to do and how to do it safely.
What Is The Big Green Egg?
The Big Green Egg is a kamado type barbecue, which originated in Japan. These grills have become popular due to their versatility and ability to grill, smoke, bake and roast different foods.
As such the Big Green Egg is a complete outdoor cooking system. It is designed and engineered to be more durable, stronger and provide excellent heat retention. One of the ways it does this is by being constructed from ceramic.
Among the many patented technologies in the Big Green Egg are the thermal properties, material quality and cooking performance of the ceramic components. There are seven different sizes of Egg, from a Mini Big Green Egg to a 2XL and everything in between.
Filling The Egg
To fill the Egg you should use good quality lump charcoal, it is not recommended that you use briquettes, wood or coal. Lump charcoal that is made from 100% hardwood is the best choice as it will heat up quickly and burn cleanly. First remove the damper on the top of the Egg and replace it with the dual function metal top. Now lift the cover on the Egg and remove the cooking grill.
Inside you will see the firebox in the base of the Egg. This has small circular holes around the bottom circumference for airflow and semi-circular holes at the rim. Fill the firebox to just below this rim with your lump charcoal.
Lighting The Big Green Egg
There are several ways to light the Big Green Egg but one method you should never use is lighter fluid. Not only is this inherently dangerous but will cause your food to smell of chemicals and permanently contaminate your Egg.
Instead use natural charcoal starters or an electric or butane charcoal starter. As you are using high quality charcoal it shouldn’t take much to get them going. Before lighting the charcoal, fully open the slide draft door in the base. Place one or more charcoal starters on top of the charcoal and light with a long match or barbecue lighter.
Leave the lid of the Egg open for now to facilitate the oxygen flow.
Using The Draft Function
You will have already completely opened the draft door in the bottom of the Egg. This will help the ignition process with good air circulation. Once the charcoal begins to glow, refit the cooking grill and close the lid. Open the dual function metal top all the way to ensure a good draft while the charcoal continues to burn.
Your Big Green Egg will now begin to heat up.
As you see the temperature begin to rise close the draft door in the base to about 1 inch to 1 ½ inches. Then close the dual function top to around a quarter open. This allows for a gradual increase to your target temperature.
After approximately 30 minutes, check the temperature. If it is remaining stable then open the dual function top slightly more to introduce more oxygen. Check again after another half an hour and adjust the airflow again if necessary.
You can also adjust the temperature with the draft door, opening it a little more to make incremental changes in the temperature of the Egg. Getting used to the Egg means doing a couple of test runs so that you understand what each of the draft components contribute to the heating process.
It is important to note that you should not let the Egg get above 350 degrees on its first burn. The gasket adhesive needs to cure and too high temperatures may damage it.
Shutting Down The Big Green Egg
Now you are ready to shut down the Egg. First remove the dual function metal top and replace it with the ceramic damper top. Remember the metal top will be hot so use a good mitt to remove it. Then close the draft door in the base all the way. You have now shut off all the air circulation to the Egg, so the charcoal fire will slowly be extinguished.
Do not open the Egg for at least 20 minutes after this process as any introduced oxygen can reignite the charcoal.
Relighting The Egg
As the Big Green Egg is so fuel efficient you will undoubtedly have leftover charcoal after most uses. To reuse the charcoal simply stir it around in the base to loosen any ash with a raking tool.
Check the circular holes in the base of the firebox to make sure they are not blocked. Level out the remaining charcoal and top up with some new to the level of the firebox rim. Add some charcoal starters, and now you are ready to relight your Big Green Egg.
Taking Out The Ash
You will need to remove the ash from the Egg on a regular basis. Leaving the ash to build up beneath the fire box will affect the air flow and this will affect the temperature of the Egg.
Open the draft door and the screen to access the ash and using a raking tool pull the ash out into a container. Every few months it is a good idea to remove the fire ring and fire box to clean out any ash that has gotten into the vent holes.
The Big Green Egg is a hugely versatile cooking system. It is very fuel efficient, simple to use once you’ve gotten the hang of it and easy to maintain. Due to its ceramic construction it has great heat retention and is very durable, allowing you to use it in every season.