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Woosday Food Shots: Egging a Dinner Party



  • Yes, I use a PolyScience 7306C on the side of my biggest stock pot.

    I was seduced into this style of cooking by a simple sous vide recipe that was developed by a mentor of mine, Chef Sean Brock of McCrady's. He cooks baby carrots in carrot juice inside a cryovac'd bag in just-below-simmering water (no fancy equipment other than a Foodsaver and simple thermometer). I tried this using a hand-held thermometer and a pot of water atop the range, and they were the best darn carrots I ever tasted. Hard to put into words, but the carrots tasted more carrotty than any carrots I'd tasted before.

    I started looking on eBay for a circulator, and was able to get a great deal on one. I use it frequently even for mundane stuff like defrosting. Swirling tepid water around a cryovac'd rock-solid frozen roast will defrost it very quickly.

    It's not necessary to spend huge amounts of money for equipment; it just depends how far you want to go with it. See my post responding to Big'un above concerning costs. I'd recommend starting slow and seeing if you like it. If you have a Guru it would be easy to rig it to do sous vide at minimal cost, for example.
  • Todd, I would have invited you but you turned down my roast beef at Ocala so I figured you didn't like my cooking. ;)

    Equipment cost is a bit of a red herring with sous vide. There's a stereotype that you have to run out and spend lots to try it, but that's not true. There's a lengthy thread at Chowhound that was summarized by a math grad student at Colorado State, Doug Baldwin. It's located here (see "Basic Equipment Suggestions" subhead).

    You need three items:
    (1) a way to measure temperature accurately (Thermapen, anybody?)
    (2) a method to enclose the food in plastic (might be as simple as wrapping it in plastic wrap and using a zip-lock bag)
    (3) a method to keep a water bath at a constant temperature, preferably with circulation (stirring) of the water.

    Baldwin's article lays out a variety of choices for those who have varying budgets and want to explore sous vide. He offers alternatives ranging from $10 to >$3000. One alternative he doesn't detail is using a Guru, which many of us already own, to control a heating device. I think this could be set up for maybe $40-50 if you already have the Guru and a Foodsaver, and I suspect the results you get with this McGyvering would be pretty close to what the expensive stuff provides. This is on my to-do list, as I would enjoy having a second device handy if I can get one for reasonable cost. Let me know if you want me to keep you posted how that works out.
  • Thanks for your kind words. :) It was a pleasure meeting you at Ocala.

    To answer your questions, I made the brownies and bourbon caramel sauce the night before, so all I had to do for the dessert last-minute was plate it.

    I made the pasta dough and cut the noodles afternoon-of. Including rest time for the pasta, maybe 45 minutes.

    The vodka-fennel shooters were a little bit of work, maybe 30 minutes to prep all the ingredients and cook it afternoon-of. I put the finished product in a measuring cup to reheat and pour it into the espresso cups at service time, and had the prosciutto-wrapped cantaloupe ready on toothpicks, so again it was just assembly.

    The shrimp was pre-bagged in the refrigerator. I dropped them in the bath to cook unattended for 20 minutes once the guests arrived, with the fresh pasta cooked 4 minutes.

    The lamb was bagged and in the water 3 hours before dinner. Finish time on Egg was 2 minutes/side, then assembly. I lit Egg and let it maintain 400º unattended when guests arrived, then cranked it up for sear a few minutes before I was ready to finish the lamb.

    The risotto was started 90 minutes before anticipated service; I use a nontraditional method that does not require constant attention or stirring. Unfortunately two of my guests called to advise me of an hour delay and the risotto overcooked a bit (you can see the colors of the asparagus in the risotto are a bit past perfect).

    Granita is easy, just freeze whatever and toss in the blender on ice crush cycle.

    Probably spent >80% of the dinner time sitting at the table with my guests.
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