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Notes and Tips from PA Eggfest (mostly newbie)

jimbotronjimbotron Posts: 62
edited 4:53PM in EggHead Forum
Attended my first eggfest today (in PA), and bought my first egg (a medium). I took notes on all the tips and tricks I heard, and tonight I transcribed them, and figured I'd post them in case they're useful to anyone else. Since I'm a newbie, they'll likely only be interesting to other newbies, though! thanks to forumites bill and Zippylip for all their advice and help.

First, if you possibly can, make the effort to get to an eggfest before buying. You get to taste lots of dishes from lots of cooks, an invaluable experience, because you'll get a sense of versatility, plus you'll see the quality level to shoot for (since the cooks at these things are expert veterans).

Plus, BGE people are extraordinarily generous with their know-how. I got tons of advice (yeah, sometimes contradictory, but you have to expect that) just from my telling people I'm new to BGE. It's sort of like this forum, only live.

Finally, you can get discounts on eggs and accessories at these things. So, really, DEFINITELY hit an eggfest if at all possible if you're getting into this.

WISDOM

Try several different temperatures for any given food/recipe. All temperatures can work, it's just a matter of choice.

The BGE doesn't care about quantity of coal. Cooking with BGE is about air, not coal.

any time you do direct cooking, you're getting grease and stuff in the lump. So once your food is done, open the egg all up and let the remaining lump burn up, self-cleaning the egg.

It can be helpful to use 1/2 brick sized fire bricks. e.g. put a grate, then bricks, then another grate (or vertical bricks for drip pan)

cooking at 400 degrees direct is more perilous than 500 degrees indirect.

you can use platesetter upside down over the grid (or on the ring), with an aluminum drip pan between the legs, and a grid on top.

use thicker cuts of brisket for better results

start fire with a folded up sheet of paper towel coated with cooking oil=....or use firestarters (paraffin cubes) from weber.com. You can also order firestraters cheap from Ace Hardware http://tinyurl.com/6rlnwk

for pork shoulder, use boston butt (a big tip is to buy bone-in). The guy at eggfest cooked it for 20 hours. Buy bear claws to do the final picking.

for low/slow:
only light the lump in one spot! the rest will catch...slowly
let it creep up to target temperature...don't overshoot and then try to bring back down
you've got to aim for about 225...any less and you can't keep a stable temperature.
open bottom door 1/4"
play with the top

To keep at a consistent low temperature for hours is challenging. Buy a Guru to help ensure a consistent low temperature.

good smoking chips: apple. Also: jack daniels

RECIPES

Prime Rib:
heat egg to 750 degrees to start
get a good crust started for about 10 mins
then shut down until 400 degrees, and open it up again, as high as it will go
cook one side 6 mins, the other for 6 mins, then stand up.
when done, let the meat sit shut down for 10 minutes (remember to burp!). Thisis a good move for any cut of beef.

Stuffed Fish
fish split, deboned, stuffed with parsley, onion, and lemon.
pour out an entire box of kosher salt, combine with a small carton of egg whites (as a binder), coat the fish, cook in egg 30 mins at 400 degrees. Use the meat for any purpose, even tacos

Salmon Cakes
combine canned salmon, canned crab, feta cheese, peppers, onions, olive oil, and butter. bind with crushed saltine crackers (add the ground crackers at last minute).

Chicken
start at 400-500
damp down top and bring down to 350
shake all of these ingredients in a bag: half-sharp penzey's paprika, old bay blackened seasoning, lemon, olive oil. no salt or pepper.
you can also soak in spiced rum, brown sugar, and ginger powder (you can optionally cook down those ingredients on a stove first)
cook an oven stuffer roaster in your egg at 350 in an aluminum pan, 20 mins per pound at 350. use birdwatcher thermometer.
You can use the vertical roasting gizmo for this recipe

SHOPPING LIST (spices, foods, accessories)

good brand of imported yakitori sauce: bansankan (japanese)
http://www.asianfoodgrocer.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=4090

get a Thermopen at thermoworks.com. The blue one ($65 used) is recommended. A contrarian participant notes that fiddling with a thermometer has drawbacks: 1. you've got to take multiple readings, because different parts of the meat can cook at different rates, 2. while you're doing all this reading, the egg is open and losing heat, and 3. relying on thermometers can prevent you from developing the all-important seat-of-pants intuition.

good accessory: non-stick paella pan. the one from kitchen capers is recommended:
http://www.kitchencapers.com/cware2.html

be careful not to go to hot with nonstick cookware (the coating can melt at high temp)

also: grill pan for vegetables (Oil grill pan before using)

buttercup squash (aka hubbard squash) cut into chunks is great in the egg...tastes like sweet potato. after cooking, try drizzling with rasberry syrup and bistro blends fig balsamic vinegar
http://www.bistro-blendstexas.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=49
note that the same company also sells an excellent finishing vintage balsamic vinegar:
http://www.bistro-blendstexas.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=25&products_id=50

"lone ranger" for cooking tools (I can't find the site...I must have spelled it wrong)

buy vertical chicken roaster from home depot, just $5 or so with drip dish (much cheaper than from the BGE people!).

maverick ET73 is a timer with remote control, that can alert you when your egg is up to temperature. the catch is that above a certain temperature (I think like 350), the probe melts.
http://www.cheftools.com/prodinfo-new.asp?number=06-0535

the following seasonings are especially good with vegetables:

silver cloud herbs de provence (contains lavender!)
http://www.silvercloudestates.com/viewlist.aspx?cat=34

silver cloud Salt Provencal ("a combination of the finest Mediterranean herbs and spices with flaky crystal salt") (great with tomato dishes) http://www.silvercloudestates.com/viewproduct.aspx?id=201

brandied pepper
http://www.silvercloudestates.com/viewlist.aspx?cat=30

spice hunter italian seasoning
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000H31VI0
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Comments

  • Couple things I see that need adjust me. You are shooting for 250 dome. 225 dome will put the cooking service AT the temp you are trying to reach, so an 7-8 pound pork butt or a normal brisket will take 20+ hours too cook. 250 dome will put the cooking surface at 220-230 and allow you to achieve th desired 195-200 internal temp with-in the 1-2 hour per pound norms.

    His screen name is LAWN Ranger. He's a big shot lawn jockey don't you know.

    You don't NEED a Guru or Stoker to maintain temps over a long period of time, but it sure helps..

    Actually the Paella Pans from http://www.paellapans.com get recommended the most around here and they are nice folks to work with.

    DO NOT us NON-STICK pans at all. Cast Iron or Enameled pans are best.

    It's 410 on the Et-73 melt-down. 350 is safe as long as the probes are exposed to direct heat.

    Actually cooking is more then just air. A crappy heat source can ruin food. Pick your lump wisely.

    Pecan, Hickory, Apple, Cherry are all great smoking woods.

    Silver Cloud may be good spices, but check our Dizzy Pig Rubs They are great!!

    Lastly add Naked Whiz Tao of Ceramics to your list of must ready sites.


    OHH Welcome to the Family :woohoo:
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  • One further bit of help on your maverick source recommendation... That site sells the ET-73 for $50+

    You can get it for $39.95 + shipping at The Kitchen Store http://search.store.yahoo.net/cgi-bin/nsearch?catalog=kitchenandcompany&query=et-73&x=0&y=0

    I would also think there are other sources at the same or possibly lower prices.

    Personally I wouldn't substitute the ET-7 over the ET-73.

    Looking forward to hearing about your cooks.

    GG
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  • ZippylipZippylip Posts: 4,327
    Jimbotron, great to meet you man, I think you are going about this egg thing the correct way, you have done your research & probably shortened your learning curve by a year or two. Keep on the forum as a great source of continuing education, & like you properly pointed out, opinions will vary on everything from time, temp, egg set-up, lump type, position of the earth relative to pluto..... :huh: but that is what makes it fun in the end, if there were one & only one way to do everything, the experimentaiton wouldn't be intresting - thanks for breakfast, it was good even a day later:

    IMG_1615.jpg
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  • Boss HoggBoss Hogg Posts: 1,377
    Zipster...Great meeting you there and your brother. I'll email thet pizza dough recipe to you. I'd post it if I was positive I got it all down correctly, but I'm not. You'll need to check it. BTW, my kid's team won! :cheer: How did the soccer game go?

    B.C.
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  • ZippylipZippylip Posts: 4,327
    Boss, see my post below attached to yours, full description of events, & definitely email me that concoction, I want to commence experimentation post-haste, & if it delivers, you'll see some pictures (hell, you'll see'm anyway). By the way, you gonna figure out how to get your pix on line? I think you were the only one with a camera
    ·
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    His screen name is LAWN Ranger. He's a big shot lawn jockey don't you know.

    Heheeee.


    LR.jpg
    Happy Trails
    ~thirdeye~

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
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  • Jimbo,

    Thanks for taking the time to make notes and do the write up, I'm sure it will help a lot of people.


    best
    allen
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  • Boss HoggBoss Hogg Posts: 1,377
    Test photos from PA Eggest
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  • Boss HoggBoss Hogg Posts: 1,377
    [img size=150]
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  • Thanks, everyone, for the corrections and additions!

    A couple more general impressions I took away:

    The BGE isn't primarily a barbecue, or even a grill, per se. Really, it seems best to think of it first/foremost as a convection oven.

    One surprise was to see that these finicky people, with their expensive BGE set-ups, all seem to use supermarket meat! I don't know if it's a populist streak running alongside all the pricey finickyness (or simply the only realistic alternative for people who roast meat in their BEGs very frequently), but I seem to be in the minority with my intention to use high quality meat with this thing. I have my eye on this brand (available only in the northeast): http://www.hardwickbeef.com

    I didn't much like any of the desserts I tried (couple of cobblers, couple of cakes). I can't quite put my finger on it, but they all were a bit over-moist and heavy-tasting...as if they'd simply been made with the wrong cooking tool. Zippylip thought it might just be that everyone was rushing to get lots of different dishes out, so new lump was being added to old, without a chance to properly prepare.

    Finally, anyone know how to get greasy, charcoil-y grill stains out of car seat fabric? Yeah, I'm an idiot....
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  • Oh, forgot, one last thing....I constantly heard these temperatures mentioned: 250, 400, and 750.

    I get the impression that if BGEs came with a three positioned temperature switch for only these three heat levels, nobody would complain much!
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  • 250 is the dome temp of choice for Low and Slow cooking (ribs, brisket, pork butt)

    750 is the top limit you should stay below or risk melting your gasket.

    Not sure why folks would say 400. The Egg is an all purpose cooker and works well at most any temp. This may sound silly, but the way the vents are set for any particular temp is pretty much up to YOUR egg. While we can give you a ball park setting your egg will settle in where it wants to settle in.

    We buy supermarket meats because the eggs make even choice meats taste good.

    Be one with your Egg Grasshopper and it will feed you well.
    ·
  • Pizza Recipe :
    2 cups tepid water
    teapoon of sugar or honey
    4 teapoons of yeast, let sit for about 15 mins.
    add the following : 3 cups of cake flour, 1 cup olive
    oil, teaspoon of kosher salt, and any spices you want in your crust. Mix for 5 mins. with paddle blade.

    Change blade to dough hook and add 3 more cups of cake flour, beat until forms a ball.

    Cover your mixture and rise, about 2-3 hours, punch down and let rise again.

    Add 1 cup of yellow or white cornmeal to frist flour
    mix.

    Later, Radio ( James Wilson )
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  • Jim, great to get your recipe, thanks. Hope you post some more (I'm the musician from CT, btw)!

    For those reading along, Jim and his team produced an amazing 15 separate items, many of them really interesting and all of them delicious, at this eggfest
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