Mother Earth News Blogs > Real Food

Real Food

Savor the flavors of everyday real food, fresh from the garden or stored on your pantry shelves.


Cooking with a Big Green Egg

Outdoor Cooking Big Green EggIt is that Green time of year again, and I am not thinking about gardening (well, OK, I am), or painting or anything else that might come to mind that is Green. In this specific case, I am thinking of the Big Green Egg. This marvel of Japanese and American engineering is a multi-functional cooking device, about three all wrapped up in one large green, dimpled device. “Tis the season,” as they say, for outdoor cooking in all its glory.

It could well be that you have never heard of the Big Green Egg, a lot of folks haven’t, so this is where this blog comes in. In fact, Eggheads, as we are known, have become a bit of a phenomenon around the world. They are quite popular in Africa and the Netherlands, for example.

Big Green Eggs originated in Japan, a number of centuries ago, and at that time they were called Kamado cookers. They were large, jar-like ceramic “ovens” that the Japanese used to cook with. The original Kamados were subject eventually to breakage, a problem solved by good old-fashioned American engineering, in this case, space shuttle technology. The folks at Big Green Egg (really, you have to go to their website at www.BigGreenEgg.com) worked on the ceramics until they got it perfect. They still continue to experiment tweaking this and that, in the pursuit of an ever better Egg.

How a Big Green Egg Works

So, you may reasonably ask, how do these things work? If you can run a woodstove, you can do an Egg. If you don’t have a wood stove, do not worry. It is easy enough to get the hang of with some practice. The firebox is in the bottom chamber, which is where you put lump charcoal; I use one of those electric fire starters to get the charcoal started. It doesn’t take long, and I have been known to get the Egg fired up in ten to fifteen minutes.

Now, having said all of this, be prepared for serious heat, and if you do not watch your Egg, it can easily shoot up to 700 degrees F. Yes. I find I run mine much lower, maybe 450 to 500 for pizzas, etc. Obviously, if you are doing a cake or something along that line you want a lower temperature.

Also be careful about opening your Egg anytime it’s over 400, as it gets a blast of oxygen, and can woof at you, or singe your eyebrows. It has never singed mine, but I know someone that is has.

The Art of Cooking with a Big Green Egg

You may also seriously ask, why all this to make a steak? That is where the art comes in. It is not just that you flap a steak on, cook it and eat. That is the goal, mind you, but it is how you get there that is important. It is what you cook your steak with, the seasonings involved, but at the end of the day, it is the taste. A truly perfect steak with that charcoal smoke taste is unbeatable. You can also do whole chickens or turkeys, seafood, anything that grills or bakes.

It is also not all about the BBQ, as it can also be used as a smoker, and as I use it regularly, an outdoor (charcoal) fired oven. Does that smoke go with your chocolate cake? Yes! And your cinnamon buns? Absolutely. Pizza is where it is king, but so are breads like baguettes and various loaves. In fact, I strive to make a complete meal on the Egg, with appetizers, the main course, and dessert all done one after the other (I recommend you start with dessert first, not a bad way to go, eh?).

I must confess, the first time I saw an Egg, I thought it was the most ugly thing I had ever seen. Still, my butcher Roger convinced me, it is THE way to go, his only regret being he did not buy a bigger one. Taking that advice, I bought the Large (he has a medium). I understand they now have a double extra-large. Hallelujah!

Feel free to contact me if you would like instruction on the Egg, or any other baking/ cooking instruction at www.svanslooten.com. Or email me at suevanslooten@ripnet.com Come visit me, you get to eat what you make!

You can also follow my further adventures on Facebook and more blogs at www.SVanSlooten.com.
All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.