Tuesday, January 31, 2012

School of Big Green Egg: Lighting the Grill

I have expressed my love for my Big Green Egg before. But I don't think you really understand the passion I have for my Egg. This is not just a grill. This is a smoker, an oven, and a grill that makes my food taste amazing. The best part......I get to take all the credit. 
Since I often express my love for my grill I get asked questions about it. I have decided to start a little series of posts teaching you how to use a Big Green Egg. In this section we are going to go over how to get your grill going. Now please excuse the condition of my Egg. It is old and has been used many, many, many times. It is going to get a makeover this Spring, but until then he is an old man. 
A Big Green Egg is a charcoal grill, but it does not use just any charcoal. Think of the Egg as a big cast iron skillet. The more you cook on it the more it seasons your food. Well because of this you want to use a natural lump charcoal. Now, you may think that you can just go get some regular charcoal and use it. And you could..BUUUUUTTTT.....do you really want your food to taste like chemicals? I know I don't. So natural lump charcoal! There is also an up side to using natural lump charcoal. I promise! It is reusable. Say what!!!! Yep, you heard right. Whatever you don't burn through during your cooking session, you can use again. Where can you buy said charcoal? Anywhere! Beware about some brands. Some don't even let you get through one cooking session before you burn through it. Big Green Egg dealers sell Big Green Egg charcoal and you can't go wrong with that! I have also used the Primo brand and I like that brand as well.
Okay, so look for that little 100% mark and you got yourself some charcoal. 

On to cooking! When you first open up your grill (unless it is brand new) it will look like this.  
Take your trusty old shop vac and clean out the ashes. It is very important to start with a clean grill. If you leave the ashes in it keeps the air from flowing like it needs to. This will effect your temperature. You start your charcoal, not with lighter fluid, but with firelight's or firestarters. These help keep the flavor natural.
So you break your starters up and place them in the charcoal. Make sure your draft door is open all the way. Now light those firestarters and watch the magic happen.
It takes anywhere from 10 - 15 minutes and the coals will be ready.

Now that you can start the grill you are ready to go! Next week we will talk about how to control the temperature.

Have fun!
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