I recently added a Big Green Egg to our collection of cooking appliances. This is more than just a kitchen gadget though … partly because it is normally used outside.
A Big Green Egg is a free-standing, outdoor (mostly) charcoal-fuelled ceramic oven that can be used to cook pretty much anything. And for most dishes and meals it cooks much better than a conventional oven.
A Big Green Egg (BGE) has some distinct advantages over conventional ovens and standard BBQ equipment:
- It can safely get to 400°C/715°F … so it can be used as a pizza oven. I really like thin crust pizza.
- You can cook flame-grilled steaks at 300°C/570°F and create a classic steakhouse grid pattern.
- It can cook low-n-slow, e.g. brisket, for a long period of time without refuelling.
- It doubles as a smoker, either hot or cold smoking.
It was mainly for these reasons that I bought one … that and I like cooking al fresco. I also had a taste of some jerk chicken cooked on one at a local food store, it tasted so much better than other chicken I had eaten.
Was It Worth It?
Categorically YES! Since acquiring and experimenting with it, I have found that it is on the whole much better than a conventional oven for most cooks.
Roast chicken is moister, juicier and tender. Ribeye steaks cooked over direct flame are just fantastic. Fish somehow seems more vibrant, especially when cooked with lemongrass. Vegetables cooked in the BGE taste fresher.
As for pizzas … well, the pictures below speak for themselves:
It’s not a panacea for cooking. I would still cook some things in a regular oven, e.g. bread, roast lamb and rib of beef. I did try these on the BGE and found that the results just weren’t as good. Or maybe I need to experiment more.
When I post recipes for the BGE, if it can be done in the oven I’ll also post a recipe to do in the oven.
Why Do We Have Two Big Green Eggs?
I bought the large BGE because I wanted to make 15 inch pizzas, and the large BGE is perfect for this. It’s also great for cooking for a household with parents and children, or having friends over. However for a household of two adults (and a few cats) it does take quite a bit of charcoal to get up to temperature, which for the sake of two burgers or a chicken is quite wasteful.
The Minimax BGE is smaller than the large, it is perfect for a meal for two people. It uses about 20% of the charcoal of the large for similar cooks. It can cook four burgers, roast a small/medium chicken or flame-grill a couple of rib-eye steaks.
I did a quick calculation and determined that the reduction in charcoal usage meant that the Minimax would pay for itself in just over three years. Or at least, that’s how I sold it to my wife :).