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Converting from weber smokey mountain to BGE - questions

WiltOnTiltWiltOnTilt Posts: 102
edited February 2013 in EggHead Forum
Hello all! I'm an avid smoker from KC and my primary experience has been on the WSM for the past few years. My large BGE is being delivered today and I'm excited to get started on it but I have some questions for anyone who might want to point me in the right direction on some or all of these. I will say that I've lurked this forum for a couple weeks to try to learn some basics but there are a few things I'm still not sure of: 

 1. Plate setter - I've read some say feet up or feet down - in which circumstances would I choose one or the other? 

2. Smoke - I've read you should wait until the smoke out of the top is clear before starting. I am confused on this because I always had smoke rolling out of my WSM from my wood chunks. When/how should I get the wood chunks in the BGE after the clear smoke? Or does it matter when doing long low and slow cooks? 

3. Wood - I'm a bit nervous about this because in my WSM I was used to adding more wood at various intervals but it appears with the setup of the egg, once things get going I'm not going to be able to add more wood onto the fire because of the grill grate and plate setter. Is this right? Will this hurt my smoke flavor? 

4. I've read we only want lump coal in there. Do you guys only use the BGE brand? If not, what should I look for when buying lump coal?

5. When grilling, do you always use the cast iron grate or sometimes the standard? Which circumstances are best for each?

My apologies for all of the questions right out of the gate but thanks for any help/tips/links on these topics.

Comments

  • SMITTYtheSMOKERSMITTYtheSMOKER Posts: 2,091
    edited February 2013

    Hello Wilt, 

    Welcome to the "Green-side".

    I'm from KC area myself, Independence & Olathe way back when.

    1-I always use platesetter feet up. For both smoking and pizzas.

    2-Let the lump smoke "clean up" before grilling or smoking.  Add smoking wood just before putting on meat for smoking, capture this smoke on the meat.

    3-We only add a couple of chunks of smoking woods, but you can add more up front and shouldn't have to revisit the charcoal bed throughout the cook.

    4-I like the flavor you get with Oak lump charcaol, BGE is oak.  Ozark oak is good, you should be able to find plenty of oak lump back there.

    Good luck with the new Egg!

     

    -SMITTY     

    from SANTA CLARA, CA

  • henapplehenapple Posts: 12,466
    PS legs down when using my CI DO that has feet otherwise up.
    After lighting I wait for a clean smell before proceeding
    Mix wood chunks in the lump placed according to where/how you light.
    It took we a while to get used to not seeing the heavy smoke rolling out the entire cook. The taste will be smokey enough.
    You'll have to try different lumps to see what you like...everyone has their "go-to" lump. Right now mine is Ozark Oak...look for a good combo of large and medium pieces with little dust. Track your cook times per bag to help track cost and efficiency.

    Welcome. Have fun.
    Green egg, dead animal and alcohol. The "Boro".. TN 
  • jfm0830jfm0830 Posts: 901
    edited February 2013
    Welcome to the club and the board! 

    1) I have made a lot of recipes from the BGE cookbook and they tend to go both ways with the plate setter. If you are smoking something they often have you do the plate setter legs up. Sometimes they have you add the s/s grill grate on top of the the legs to get the food up around the hinge level and more under the dome. For baking they always have you go legs down so the food is under the dome. The one thing I always do is never set a pan or pizza stone directly on the base of the plate setter. Thanks to Mikey here I now use 1/2" copper plumbing T's to get a space between the plate setter and the pan or pizza stone. This keeps them from getting too hot. It has made a noticable improvement in my results. Also when I smoke with legs up and the food on the s/s grill, I'll put a drip pan underneath on the plate setter, once again on the 1/2" plumbing T's so the drippings don't burn.

    2) As mentioned it is the smoke from the lump you want to be clear. I happen to use paraffin starters to start my fires and by the time my Egg is up to temperature (20-30 minutes) the smoke has already cleared.

    3) Due to the tight seal of the Egg go easy on the smoking woods. As Smitty said add the wood just before the meat goes on. If you want to add more you can use some chips and sneak those onto the Egg in the gaps around the plate setters perimeter. If you search around here a bit you will see some folks around here add wood via the lower damper door, I don't remember the specifics of how they do this and wether it is chips or small chunks.

    4) Lots of folks around here, myself included, use Wicked Good Weekend Warrior Charcoal. It has a very neutral smoke flavor which makes it good for baking when you don't want smoke flavor. I like this because then I add my smoke flavor, if I want it, via smoking woods. WGWW burns hot, long and evenly and is the best lump I've used. The only downside is it is one of the more expensive lumps at $18-$22 for a 20 lb. bag.

    5) I use the C/I grill grate when I am direct grilling and want grill marks. The C/I grate is reversible. One side gives you wide grill marks and if you flip it you will get narrower grill marks and less chance of delicate food like say fish sticking. I use the S/S grill grate for indirect grilling or smoking when I don't want grill marks.

    Hope this helps. You will often get multiple answers about technique on the Egg. There is often no right or wrong answer, just see which one works out best for you.

    Jim  

  • Welcome aboard, you've gotten some great answers from some really accomplished cooks so I'll just agree with them. I too came over from a WSM which I've only used once since I got my egg. Just practice and you will soon get the hang of it. Good Luck, look forward to seeing some of your cooks!

    Rick
    LBGE
    Go Dawgs! - Marietta, GA
  • Henapple, jfm, and SmokinDawg - thanks for the great info!
  • lousubcaplousubcap Posts: 5,509
    edited February 2013

    All good info above-and here's a link to a great reference site-

    http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramic.htm Welcome aboard and enjoy the journey.

    Louisville
  • WiltOnTiltWiltOnTilt Posts: 102
    edited February 2013
    Thanks Lou!

    All, I'm trying my first grill (burgers) just to try out the egg. I've had the coal lit for 35 minutes now but the thermometer says only 250. At idea what I could be doing wrong? The dealer said the thermometer was calibrated when he dropped off the egg this morning. As far as I can tell the flames are rolling inside there. Ideas?
  • Well I think it's a thermometer issue as I put my wireless temp probe inside the top of the egg to see what temp it shows and the gauge read HHH and I pulled the prob out and that thing was melted!!! Ugh. So now I have no idea what temp it is inside the egg and I'm afraid I've blown way past 400 which I was told not to do on the first few uses! How screwed am I here?
  • So I completely closed all vents and went upstairs to try to find a different thermometer and when I come back down the gauge is pegged to the highest it can go. Son of a b^{>~€. It's clearly not supposed to be this hot so I now have the whole thing open with the hope that it won't ruin my egg from being this hot. I am baffled how closing up the vents drove the temp up? (I don't think it did actually drive the temp up as less air=less heat but the temp gauge sure as heck did not start spiking until it was all closed up).

    any idea what I should do now?
  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,271
    edited February 2013
    You won't hurt the ceramics by running it hot.  The "don't run it hot the first time" is for gasket preservation.  Even if you burned up the gasket, lots of people don't replace it; they find the egg cooks fine without it.  Others replace the factor gasket with a better gasket.

    You can test your BGE thermometer by putting it in boiling water and seeing if it is reading 212* or close to it.

    You learned a lesson that all BGE owners eventually experience.  If you walk away from the egg with the bottom vent open and the daisy wheel off, the temperature will climb slowly at first and then in a few minutes it will rocket.  

    In a few cooks you'll get use to the BGE.  :)
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • My guess is that you went all the way around the thermometer and back around to 250. So you had it pretty hot! Depending on the gasket you should still be fine. Just start over and keep a little bit better of an eye on the temo till you get it closer to the temp you want. You will get it in no time! Good luck.
  • Wilt,

    You are going thru the same thing most egg owners go thru.  I too am a Webber convert, and the Egg is no different than the Webber!  It just acts different because it is "BIG TIME" insulated compared to the Webber.  It is very slow to react, and it is common for ex Wbber operators to "over-compensate" in controlling a particular temperature.  The good thing is, once you learn how regulate your Egg's temperature, manually or electrically, unlike the Webber, the operator can set the temperature and walk away.  It is common for new operators to run into these same problems that you are looking at!!  As an example, when i start my Egg, it will very slowly increase in temperature until it reaches about 300 degrees dome and at that point it will "FART"!!  Actually, it is a "flash" where the lump's fumes ignite. This can be seen thru the top vent.when actual flames can be seen slightly coming out of the top vent.  And at this point the dome thermostat will begin to increase at a very fast rate -- within five minutes the dome thermometer can be pagged out!!!  Also during this starting period, you normally are attempting to "STABILIZE" the Egg.  "Stabilize' means the inside and outside surfaces are operating at a set operating temperature.  Once your Egg is "Stabilized" temperature changes within your Egg will react slower than the "start up period.  The early part of the "start up" can have temperatures jumping all over the place, until you learn how to control it, then you will be able to reach your "stabilized" temperature which allows slower effects of vent openings.  I will not try to tell you the way i do mine, because i don't thing my way" is the correct way, and I DO KNOW there are many ways to control it.  Just a learning experience!!! 

  • WiltOnTiltWiltOnTilt Posts: 102
    edited February 2013
    All, thanks for everyone's comments. How can I determine if I damaged/ruined the gasket?
  • The gasket supplied with your Egg is a piece of junk !!  Sad that something so cheap to fix, continues to be overlooked???  If you plan on cooking good pizza, the factory gasket will get toasted within the first few cooks.  You will notice, that the gasket just turns to dust in high temperature spots.  The good part is it is easy to fix, and not very expensive.  Some here will say, you don't need a gasket.  I disagree with that idea, because the gasket function is to seal the Egg!  During the Egg's normal operation the heat lost out of the gasket area is just made up by burning more lump, so yes the Egg will cook the same, just use MORE lump!!  MORE important, in my opinion, is shuting the Egg down.  The leaking gasket will allow air into the Egg extending the shutdown period, thereby burning up un-necessary lump.  I have noticed a large difference in my lump consumption due to the failure of my factory gasket.  I brought it to the attention of my dealer -- he solution was to sell me a "REPLACEMENT' gasket for $16.00???  I needed a solution that allows me to cook all the meals they publically advertise, not a temperary "band aid" !!!      
  •  1. Plate setter - I've read some say feet up or feet down - in which circumstances would I choose one or the other? ....Unless doing pizza, legs up.

    2. Smoke - I've read you should wait until the smoke out of the top is clear before starting. I am confused on this because I always had smoke rolling out of my WSM from my wood chunks. When/how should I get the wood chunks in the BGE after the clear smoke? Or does it matter when doing long low and slow cooks?  I let the lump smoke clear, than add my wood chunks, no I do not soak my wood chunks, than add my meat.

    3. Wood - I'm a bit nervous about this because in my WSM I was used to adding more wood at various intervals but it appears with the setup of the egg, once things get going I'm not going to be able to add more wood onto the fire because of the grill grate and plate setter. Is this right? Will this hurt my smoke flavor? You can always buy these bad boys and lift your placesetter if you feel the need to add more wood.  http://www.metalclaysupply.com/Zetex-Plus-High-Heat-Resistant-Gloves-p/59995.htm

    Smoke Flavor Chart if you need it. 

    SmokingFlavorChart.pdf (application/pdf Object)

    4. I've read we only want lump coal in there. Do you guys only use the BGE brand? If not, what should I look for when buying lump coal?  BGE brand is overpriced.  I use Wicked Good Weekend Warrior most of the time that I order online and have it delivered to my local Ace Hardware Store or Royal Oak that I get from Walmart.

    5. When grilling, do you always use the cast iron grate or sometimes the standard? Which circumstances are best for each? I use a cast iron grate only to get sear marks on steaks.  Most of the time it is the standard grate that came with my egg.  I also bought a little smaller grate, 5" stainless steel cartridge bolts with wing nuts and built a second level extended grate so I have two cooking levels when needed.

    Have fun, ask questions and enjoy some great food that is about to come. 

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Welcome to the Swamp.....GO GATORS!!!!
  • WiltOnTiltWiltOnTilt Posts: 102
    edited February 2013
    Rag, Andy, Dave, and Charlie - thanks again for your thoughts.

    It appears my gasket is turning brown on the inside but otherwise doesn't visually look too bad. I guess I won't know how much it seals until my next cook.

    I took the thermometer out of the egg and held it in boiling water and it was close to 100 degrees off lol... No wonder it seemed like it never got going. Then as Charlie mentioned I bet I was away from it at the exact wrong time when it went from around 300-350 to the moon. Weird timing but obviously having the thermometer being uncalibrated really ruffled my feathers.

    Hopefully there was too much harm done to the egg. The burgers and brats turned out good but I ended up keeping the lid open for most of my grilling since I was paranoid about how hot it was getting inside there. This Friday night I'm going to put a pork butt in there and try low and slow.
  • When you close the Egg, you MUST know what is going on inside -- that is your thermometer or temperature probe.  Cooking a butt is very easy, as long as you can maintain the inside temperature????????????????
  • EggcelsiorEggcelsior Posts: 9,781
    The egg is fine. As was mentioned before, it's just to cure the sealant. Like Mr Tuna said, make sure you can control the temp. Chasing temps on a low and slow can be exceedingly frustrating(don't ask me how I know). Since it will be your first butt, make sure you calibrate the thermo for the cook. Add fresh lump part way up the fire ring. For smoking wood, you can intersperse the chunks/chips in the lump then light, or light and add the chunks once it has caught and you have some glowing coals. Get the temp to around 50 degrees of target and start dialing in your vent and Daisy wheel. With practice, it will be second nature.
  • WiltOnTiltWiltOnTilt Posts: 102
    edited February 2013
    Thanks eggcelsior, I got my thermo all calibrated tonight so I will hopefully be in good shape for Friday. I will be watching that thing like a hawk to make sure it doesn't get out of hand.

    I can tell already this is a very good community and I really appreciate everyone's fast and detailed input. Hopefully I can pass on some of this wisdom some day!
  • jfm0830jfm0830 Posts: 901
    Sorry your first cook on the Egg was so full of adventure. I went 6 months before I had my first case of thermometer wraparound. I had no idea it could do that. I picked up a second large in January and had it happen on my second cook on the new Egg. What happened with me was the thermometer wrapped around to the same position it was in when I started. It was at about 775, I say about because there are no numbers on this part of the thermometer. It was very cold and I gave my Egg an extra 5 minutes to warm up before I checked on it a second time. I'll throw out a couple things I've learned so hopefully you won't have to learn the hard way. 

    -The outdoor air temperature has little to no effect on the warm-up time for the Egg. I end up using the same settings on my vents as I did when I got my Egg in August. When I had thermometer wraparound I gave my Egg an extra 5 minutes because my pizza stone and plate setter were stored outside so I ASSumed the warmup would take longer. It didn't.

    -Be sure to burp, in fact double burp your Egg so you don't get a flashback where flames come roaring out of the Egg when you open the lid quickly. Too much oxygen too quickly = flashback. So lift the lid slowly to about 1" open, give it a couple seconds and then lift it to about 4" for a couple seconds, then open it fully. I used to single burp my Egg and still got some flashbacks when I was over 400 degrees and had my lower damper closed way down. Since starting to double burp I have had no flashbacks. Oh and my arm hair and one eyebrow hair has grown back.

    -If you suspect thermometer wraparound, cautiously touch the dome of the Egg. For example if you were lighting the Egg and saw that 250 and touched the dome of the Egg it would either be cold/barely warm (250 internal) or scorchingly hot (1000 plus internal).

    -As a new Egg owner check on it more frequently or stay out at the Egg until you learn the typical warm up.

    -I use paraffin fire starters and I like them. There are lots of opinions on the best way to start the Egg so I am not saying my way is the best way. My way is the best way FOR ME. But any how, I use more or less fire starters to suit the temps I am shooting for.  For 225-300 I use 2 starter squares. For 300-450 3 starters and 500 and above 4 squares.

    -For my large, using WGWW charcoal and fire starters I open the bottom damper fully and remove the metal cap. The BGE firestarters take 10 minutes to burn out. For 225 degrees I close the lid and add the plate setter after 5 minutes. For 300-450 I close the lid and add the plate setter (if using) after 7 or 8 minutes. For 500 degrees or higher I let them go the full 10 minutes before closing the lid.

    -After that I check after 10 minutes. Usually I am in the 200 degree range. Then unless I am going to 700 degrees for pizza I check every 5 minutes after that. 

    -For pizza I will check in 10 minutes and then another 10 minutes for the second check and every 5 minutes after that.

    -As others have mentioned the Egg will rise slowly at first and then suddenly kick it into overdrive, so don't ASSume a linear temperature rise.

    -You are going to have to learn the performance of your Egg, with your settings using your brand of charcoal. Switch to a different brand of lump and things could be different.

    -The references to doing your first cooks no higher than 400 degrees refers to pre-September 2012 when Eggs came with a brown low temperature wool gasket. They now ship the Egg with a grey high temperature gasket. The joke about that "break in time" was the old wool gasket would start being destroyed as soon as you went over 400 degrees. The brown areas you are seeing is where the gasket was exposed to direct flames because the top and bottom lids didn't align. You had an "overbite" or "underbite". As long as you don't do this again your gasket should be fine. Don't sweat the 400 degrees either if your gasket is grey and not dark brown.

    -Last there is one exception to the predictable start up time of the Egg. If the holes in the bottom of the ceramic firebox or the holes in the metal fire grate get clogged you will have a long wait to hit high temperatures. Give the interior of the Egg and the ash drop a good cleaning before doing any high temperature cook. Many folks around here use a High Que (brand) third party fire grate which looks like a tiny stainless steel grill grate. It has more open area and doesn't clog easily. You can do a search on this board for High Que or High-Que for more discussions of this. Be aware it potentially voids your warrantee.

    Once again sorry you had that adventure your first time out. Believe me cooking on the Egg is usually a blast and you get great results.

    Jim

  • check out this post it may help you see how to set your vents
    http://eggheadforum.com/discussion/746823/vent-settings-a-visual-guide/p1

    LBGE
    Go Dawgs! - Marietta, GA
  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 5,131
    Oh man...I started to respond to this post yesterday but then got distracted (silly work!!).  I might could have saved you some trouble if I just clicked [Post Comment]!

    -------------draft saved from yeterday---------->

    Welcome aboard!  It seems like the other members have covered your questions.  

    One more piece of advice.  I have observed a couple of WSM converts that seem to report trouble keeping the egg at low temps.  I think this is just a bit of a learning curve.  The egg requires very little air to maintain a low temp (like 250 dome).  Also, the egg is capable of getting very hot.  If you let the temp overshoot, it takes long time to get it back down.  So, approach your target temp slowly.  If you are shooting for 250, adjust the vents and stop it at 225 or so.  Come back in 15 minutes and see where it is, and make small adjustments accordingly.  


    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg wing. 
    2014 Wing King's Apprentice
  • Jim, what a wealth of knowledge you have written out there.  Thanks for that! I am going to print that off to keep with my egg to reference as needed.  You are right, I have the grey colored gasket and I did notice the slight underbite last night on my egg.  I did not put it together, my dealer did... is this going to be a problem moving forward? Should I insist they make sure the top and bottom align perfectly?


    SmokinDawg, I will book mark this link, thanks!

    SmokeyPitt, Thanks for the post and I agree 100%.  I will keep an extra eye on this on Friday and error on the side of less air when I prep the egg for my pork butt.  I was quite surprised at the inferno that was inside my egg last night.  When I dangled my wireless temp gauge into the top of the egg and the meter read HHH (too high to calculate) and I pulled that thing out only to see the metallic wiring cover melting off, I knew I was in trouble! lol
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