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Yet another Newbie with a million questions...

That would be me, the newbie!

My wifey is a keeper, and she bought me a large BGE for Christmas. So far I have smoked four slabs of baby backs and cooked two nine pound chickens. I am getting the hang of lighting the coals and maintaining temps. The ribs were my first attempt and I had a difficult time keeping the temps low. They also didn't have as much "smoke" flavor as my previous ribs (I used to just smoke using the little smoker box on my weber summit gas grill). The chickens were just incredible. I used to rotisserie on the summit and they were great but after using the beer can set up, some oil, garlic and a lot of herbs de provence I have found another world of chicken flavor. 

Now for the stupid questions ( i have searched the forum but can't find the answers for these issues)

1. I am embarrassed to admit, but I can't figure out the best technique for lighting the egg. Do you leave the bottom wide open, close the lid and leave the daisy completely off the grill? The first time I left the lid open but that definitely is not a good idea in my opinion.

2. How much wood chips should I use if I want to smoke? I am currently using the BGE brand lump coal, and I used 3/4 of a bag of hickory wood chips with the ribs but they really didn't have that much of a smoke flavor. 

3. How do I know if I have a "nomex" high temp gasket? I want to do a pizza next but I read that it almost always burns the gasket. Should I wait to do a pizza since the temps are really high and I have only been up to about 550 (while attempting to maintain 375 for chicken, see I told you I was a newbie!)

4. I have always grilled year round, and now that I have this wonderful magic egg I plan on grilling almost everyday. Last night I did the chicken and it was 13F outside. Am I potentially going to damage the egg by grilling in this god awful winter weather?

5. Last one for today, I have the large table and read about potential fire/burn damage at the bottom of the egg. I currently have the BGE feet but I have read/scene folks use fire bricks at the bottom. What is the conventional wisdom about protecting the table?

Thanks very much in advance. I am basically addicted to the BGE at this point and look forward to contributing to this forum as I learn the ins and outs. 

My wife told me to "take out the garbage" and this is what I found waiting in the back yard. Nice!


  • For slow and low cooks I use one FireBlox cube (2" x 2") and light it in the center of the lump with damper opened fully.  Let the cube flame out, about 5-7 minutes.  Close the lid without daisy wheel and watch the dome temp.  When it hits 200 I slide damper closed to 1/4" and crack the daisy wheel open slightly.  If you get to hot to quickly you will not get any smoke effect.  I have found the best range for smoking most meats is 180 - 225.  When you get close to 280 - 300 the smoke will be very marginal.  BTW. I layer my lump and wood chips when I load the fire box.  On a low and slow cook the fire works from the center out and the chips will smoke as long as you maintain the correct temps.  On my rig when I am stable the damper is open about 1/8" and my Daisy wheel is slightly cracked.  If you get too hot too fast you will not get back to optimum slow temps.  Good luck!  

    Simple ingredients, amazing results!
  • DocWonmugDocWonmug Posts: 300
    As a cult member just past the newbie stage, I can comment on a couple things, since I just went through the same things.

    On lighting, bottom vent wide open, lid up until the flames go out. I use cooking oil soaked paper towels, wadded up not too tight. Works fine, just as good as the little squares. Daisy wheel off after closing until you get close to the right temperature, like 50 degrees below. Or 20 degrees below for a low temp cook. Should not take long to get up to temp, like 15 minutes, so keep an eye on it and don't overshoot.

    On smoke. For a longer cook, use some chunks not chips. For a short cook, I use a handful of chips. Don't need to soak either in water.

    On lump, you might try the Royal Oak. Get the variety that is in a red bag marked "made in USA". There are some reviews on the other types by RO, not as good. But the USA-made is the best lump I have found, I like it better than BGE lump, and it is about 60% the price.

    No real help on the other things, lots of folks should be able to help. I think the feet are fine to protect the table. A few inches of air space.

    Welcome to the cult.
  • FanOfFanboysFanOfFanboys Posts: 2,047
    Welcome! Try spatchcock chicken. Only way I do whole ones now. For lighting there is a ton of ways to do it. I switched to using a torch from Lowes and now I can get to 350~ in about 5 minutes. I leave bottom open while lighting, once no flames I close lid and adjust bottom to about where I think I'll be and roll from there. You can cook on Egg in that temp with no issues. A lot of guys on here from Canada and they cook year round. The feet will probably work but can use fire brick or a stone from Lowes/Home Depot. I wouldn't worry about gasket. Many on here go gasket free including myself. For wood chips it depends. Some wood is stronger and some foods more sensitive. Start with less and move up. I would bet your ribs were very smokey but one downside of doing the cooking is you become desensitized to the smoke. Try this: eat it the next day. I bet will be a lot smoker once you've had time away.
  • egginatoregginator Posts: 569
    Hey Mike, 

    Lighting the egg is a matter of personal preference.  If I have the time I sometimes go with a couple of paper towels soaked in a little cooking oil.  Soak them, twist into fuse, lay in an 'x' on the coals, add a few more coals on top and light the ends.  You can also buy a weed burner and blow torch the coals until they are ready.  This is my preferred method.  Look at Harbor Freight for a cheapie weed burner. Lots of people use chimney starters or electrics or cubes.  I like the instant gratification of the flame thrower.  

    I always use wood chunks. one or two about the size of a small fist.  I'm not into big smokey flavors, so I can't tell you.  I think most of your smoke flavor gets into the meat when it is cold - first 30 minutes of the cook.  I use pecan with hickory or oak because I think the pecan gives me a better smoke ring.  I do like guava though.  You can get that here:

    I think if your lid is tight your gasket will not burn.  Mine is worn paper thin in places and smoke leaks here and there, but I don't care - it all seems to work so I don't mess with it.  

    I live in Texas so I have no personal experience with cooking at negative temps, but many Canadiens and Maine eggers cook all year round.  I don't think you have anything to worry about.

    With your table you want to put a couple of thin small tiles on the wood base of the table, then add a paver stone on the tiles so there is a small air gap between the wood and the stone.  Then put the egg feet on the paver and add the egg.  This way you have an air gap between the egg and the stone and the stone and the wood.  

    Finally, check out this forum too:

    Happy egging

  • XLBalcoXLBalco Posts: 604
    what part of chicago you in?
  • Chicagomike, great to see more Chicago people on here. I am in the Western suburbs myself.

    Here are my thoughts on some of your questions. On lighting, I use an electric lighter but have also used the starter cubes. I light with bottom vent wide open and no daisy wheel. Once lit, I let it burn for a little while and then close the lid. To be honest, I only use the daisy wheel if I am cooking below 350. Once I start to see temp going up, I will then start to close down bottom vent. You don't want to let it get too high as it can be tough to get it back down.

    As for the gasket, you most likely have the new, high-temp gasket which came standard on all new Eggs since the summer. Even if you don't, I wouldn't fret about it. Pizzas are great on the Egg and hate to see you not make them because you are worried about your gasket.

    And definitely don't worry about the weather. As long as you can take it, so can the Egg.

    Good luck and keep asking questions. Best way to learn and TONS of helpful people on here.
    Clarendon Hills, IL
  • Mike, welcome. Sounds like you have already gone crazy on the egg in such a short period of time. I would bet a Kettle One & Club Soda we occasionally run in the same circles and were in Nashvegas last spring for a birthday party or two. if so i saw the video of you " taking out the garbage". You should post it on the forum. Hope you enjoy the egg, I'm starting my 4th year on the egg and just added a mini over the holidays to compliment the large. You know where to go if all of your questions weren't answered. if I have the wrong Mike, I'll probably just pour one for myself anyway! Elmer Fudd.... Apple Valley, MN
    Minneapolis / St. Paul. Large & Mini
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817
    9 pound chickens? That's huge! I do my birds on the bge stand inverted and indirect. Puts the dark meat higher in the dome which is hotter so they finish with the rear end higher in temp than the breast.


    Caledon, ON


  • I light my egg with the lighter blocks from the egg store. Krogers has some self striking ones that work as well. I fill up the box, dig a little hole, lighe a couple of blocks, cover them with lump. take the daisey wheel off and close the lid. let it burn for 5-10 minutes then put the daisey back on and start closing down the dampers. I did this for a week or two then i bought a digiq. now after the 5-10 minutes , i close down the top damper almost completely, install the fan on the bottom damper, set the temp on the digiq put the probe in my meat, set the desired temp of the meat and forget it till the alarm sounds when the meat gets done. Best money (besides the egg itself) i ever spent. It literally makes smoking as easy as using an electric oven>
  • MickeyMickey Posts: 18,738
    edited January 2013
    Is 9 lb chicken correct? ~:>
    Salado TX Egg Family: 3 Large and a very well used Mini, added a Mini Max (I'm good for now). 

  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 26,678
    edited January 2013
    I won't touch chickens over 4 or 5 pounds after I cooked (smoked) a 9 pounder - it was my first egg cook, as a matter of fact.  More rubbery than a rubber chicken.  Maybe I just did it wrong.  But it tasted like the chicken died naturally of old age, was buried, then exhumed, wrapped in cryovac and put on the store shelf.
    This is my signature line just so you're not confused.  Love me or hate me, I am forum Marmite.
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, smoker with a 5k btu AC, gas grill, fire pit, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 

  • MickeyMickey Posts: 18,738
    With you on that. I am in for 3.5 chickens and 11.5 on turkeys
    Salado TX Egg Family: 3 Large and a very well used Mini, added a Mini Max (I'm good for now). 

  • Thanks much for all of the input. Yes, the chickens were 9. Most are 7-9, they occasionally have 4-5lbs but we have a great family grocery store on the south side (county fair) and they have multiple brands of free range "happy" chickens that are great for grilling. 

    Tonight I did my first round of pizzas. I didn't have time to make the dough myself so I went to whole foods and bought a bunch of their raw pizza dough. I also picked up the 14 inch BGE pizza stone. 

    After reading a ridiculous number of posts here I filled up the egg with more lump coal than my previous experiments and found it somewhat hard to light. It smoldered for quite some time, so I went inside to open another bottle of wine and when I returned I found the egg had pretty much gone nuclear. Egg thermometer pegged, fire exiting the top. Quite impressive except for the fact that I actually wanted to prepare edible food on this thing...

    It took me a while to get things stabilized and I threw my first pie on the stone. The first one took a long time to cook, and when I took it off the top was somewhat burnt while the middle of the dough was raw. Lesson numero uno, stone wasn't hot enough.

    The second attempt was so good that I am pretty sure that it added years of life to everyone that had a piece. Crust - perfect. Toppings - not perfect but pretty damn good. 

    Third attempt was almost as good as second, and I have a pic. I left it on a little too long and the top was too brown for my liking but it was delicious (san marzano tomatoe sauce, pablano peppers, baby portabellos sliced thin, and Italian deli sausage)

    Fourth attempt was made with scrap dough left over, stretched as thin as possible. Ended up as best pie of the night. 

    I am pretty sure I fried my gasket at 1 and 3 o'clock position but it was worth it. The thing that impresses me the most about the egg is its versatility. I have been cooking for years on the biggest baddest weber summit but I can't imagine going back to that grill after cooking on the egg. 

    I don't know if anyone cares but my set up included the plate-setter legs up, the grill, and then the pizza stone on the grill. I chose place setter legs up instead of down due to the number of posts that implied a greater likelihood of gasket damage with the legs down. Next time I plan on trying legs down, spacers, pizza stone. (Due to the fact that I am pretty sure I already fried my gasket)

    Next project will be a pork shoulder or butt. I plan on buying one of those fancy schmancy temp controllers after doing some research.


  • gdenbygdenby Posts: 5,940
    While I used a Maverick remote thermometer for awhile when I first started Egging, I've been doing everything manually since. No temp controls other than vent settings. I do keep a Thermapen at hand all the time, tho'.

    I'm over in No. Indiana, where we get a little more snow than Chi. Few problems w. cooking in the cold and snow. The Egg will freeze shut if left uncovered. That's one of the reasons I start w. a weed burner. Does wonders for melting off ice shells. Sometimes takes longer to come up to temp. Do keep water from freezing in the bottom, as the ice expansion can crack the ceramics.

    I wiped out 2 gaskets on new Eggs by walking away w. the vents open. The blue flame out the top is most impressive. First time was inexperience, 2nd being drawn away by someone at the front door. Hasn't happened since.

    Use wood chunks or chips, not much difference, but mix them thru the lump. Don't expect to see much smoke, if any. The air flow in an Egg is so well controlled that the wood "bakes" away in mostly invisible smoke. You will be able to smell it.
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