I believe in making the most of available space, whether it’s storing herbs, stacking pans … or cooking in a Big Green Egg. The Egg has a big dome that normally has nothing in it. Most ovens have two shelves, why not the Egg as well?
Like an oven, a Big Green Egg can have a second level added to cook more food at the same time. This makes it more flexible, especially the smaller Minimax model. The picture below is a good example of maximising the space using a second level, cooking for four people in a Minimax:
That’s not the only reason to add a raised cooking platform though. The Egg’s dome radiates some heat downwards. The closer the item being cooked is to the dome, the quicker it will be done, and potentially more evenly cooked. This is the same principle as raising the pizza stone into the dome with fire bricks.
In experiments with spatchcock chicken, the skin was noticeably tastier and crisper when cooked on a raised platform (edit: as you can see from the comments at the bottom of this blog post, a reader actually tried this with positive results). The picture below shows a chicken cooked raised into the dome, the sweetcorn being cooked under the chicken.
Adding a Second Cooking Surface
I created a second/raised fixed-in-place cooking surface in our Minimax using:
- 1 mini BGE stainless steel (SS) grid. Other grids will work, as long as the diameter is 26cm/10 inches and the gap between the grids is ~0.5 inch.
- 3 x M10 80mm SS coach bolts. These bolts have a small cap that won’t interfere with food. The bolt must be thread for the full length.
- 3 x M12 SS penny washers. These go directly underneath the top SS grid. M12s are needed because coach bolts have a square lip under the cap that an M10 washer won’t fit over.
- 6 x M10 SS penny washers. These are for the feet of the stand.
- 9 x M10 SS nuts.
Once set up, all of the nuts were hand tightened.
This set-up rigidly attaches the top surface to the bottom, which is great for stability but does mean that the top section cannot be moved.
Another approach is to use a single bolt with 2 x M12 penny washers at the top to create a pivot motion. Ideally the bolts are secured with a spanner/wrench.
As there is a second level, the temperature gauge needs to be set up differently so that neither it nor the clip touch the food. Remove the clip from the inside (it’s not needed) and using part of a cork as a spacer on the outside.
The picture at the top of this post shows spatchcock chicken ready to cook on the top level with some sweetcorn wrapped in kitchen foil underneath. The chicken was cooked using a honey glaze with chipotle and tamarind, it tasted outstanding with smokey bourbon baked beans. That recipe will be the next blog post.
I did the same thing with the large Egg, using a grid from a medium Egg and 150mm M8 bolts, nuts and wing nuts, with M10 washers. For this I made a stand that was not fixed, using four legs. As there is more height in the large, I used wing nuts so that the height could be easily adjusted.
There are companies, such as the Ceramic Grill Store, that manufacture a wide range of products to achieve this. The CGS Adjustable Rig in particular adds a vast level of flexibility to the Egg, as it comes with many customisation options. Worth checking this out, only reason I haven’t is that we are on the wrong side of the pond. The YouTube clip below shows the rig in action:
Stainless Steel, Galvanised and Zinc
I used stainless steel materials. There are those that claim zinc/galvanised items should be avoided as zinc fumes are poisonous. Others counter, stating they have been using zinc-plated steel for years and aren’t dead yet, nor even have a headache.
The facts are that zinc boils at 907°C/1664°F which a BGE shouldn’t get to. Zinc does however melt at 419°C/787°F and I have had an egg close to that … although only for cooking pizza, using fire bricks. Even so, I went for stainless steel components.
It’s a personal choice.