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More new Egg Owner help...

stevehk1stevehk1 Posts: 15
edited March 2013 in EggHead Forum
I got a large BGE for Christmas and just like everyone on here it is becoming an obsession.  Thanks to a lot of good posts and comments from this forum I have done a lot of slow and low cooks successfully.  However, I have really struggled with what I would think would be the simple things like chicken breasts, London broil, steaks and other mid week "quick" dinners.  I did have a little kettle smoker but before I got the Egg I did most of my cooking on a propane grill so I'm not a seasoned pro when it comes to charcoal in general.  I was hoping you folks could answer a few questions for me and give me some advice.  All of these questions have to do with cooking direct.  First, I started out lighting the egg with a chimney but have switched to the lighters.  I have found that I get a high concentration of coals in the middle and the outside edges of the egg aren't nearly as hot. As a result I get inconsistent heat all over the place and everything is cooking at different rates.   Second, my wife is not real big on a strong smokey flavor especially for chicken.  I'm using all lump charcoal, so is there a trick or something I can due to keep that to a minimum.  Based on the last few cooks, i couldn't even imagine cooking a pizza or baking on it based on the smoke flavor so I have to think i'm doing something wrong.  Lastly, flames.  I have attempted to get the temp up to sear steaks but this seems to result in a high flame and undesired results.  Any insight here would be appreciated.  I know I could probably find most of these answers sifting though old posts but I thought this might be faster.  Thanks!


  • What brand of lump are you using?  How long do you let it warm up before placing food on? 
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817
    Well your name appears to be Steve so I'll try and help. What kind of lump are you using? When you say lighters, I assume you mean the paraffin blocks. IMHO they leave the worst taste on food. Get a Mapp torch and light in three or four places with that. Total time 40 to 60 seconds. Leave your dome open and lower vent open for a few minutes til you have flames. Shut  the dome and open the daisy and dial in your heat with the lower vent. Wait till the white/grey smoke disappears. If you are cooking skin on chicken either do it indirect or with a raised grid, the closer the meat is to the lump the more greasy flare ups that will give you a bad taste. Same is true of anything that produces a lot of fatty drippings. If you have lump leftover after a fatty cook the grease will still be in the lump so burn it off or replace it. It also helps to limit the amount of lump you put in to further increase the distance between the burning lump and what you are cooking.


    Caledon, ON


  • Exactly what Little Steven said, plus lump varies depending on brand and will give off different amounts of smoke and flavor depending on what type of wood it is made from.  Make sure you give it enough time to warm up and get rid of the bad smoke.  Good luck and have fun. 
  • johnkitchensjohnkitchens Posts: 5,079
    I also got my large for Christmas. I haven't done any low and slows yet. I have done a lot of burgers, steaks, etc. 

    Concerning, "I have found that I get a high concentration of coals in the middle and the outside edges of the egg aren't nearly as hot."  One idea is that possibly you may be closing your lid too soon after you light it. 

    I had that exact same problem on my first few cooks. What I started doing was leaving the lid up for 25 to 30 minutes after I light it. This allows a lot more of the outer edge coals to burn. 

    Concerning, "Second, my wife is not real big on a strong smokey flavor especially for chicken"  I am not sure, but the heavy smoke flavor could also be from closing your lid too soon after you light it. Well let me restate that. Closing the lid too soon won't cause it. Putting your food on too soon before the chemicals have had a chance to burn off will cause it.

    The first steaks I cooked were way too smokey tasting, but that was because I had been told that it only takes about 10 minutes for the grill to be ready to cook on. Wrong! It gets to temp fast, but it takes a lot longer for the chemicals to burn off. 

    Concerning, "Lastly, flames.  I have attempted to get the temp up to sear steaks but this seems to result in a high flame and undesired results"  The only time I had that problem is when I had the grill full of pork loin slices, and the lid was up, and I was having to individually check the temp of each piece. When all of the oxygen hit the flames I had a lot of very high flames. 

    Hopefully some of this will help.  I am so glad I bought myself an egg for Christmas. It truly is the gift that keeps on giving. (I better stop now before I tear up and cry).

    Louisville, GA - 2 Large BGE's
  • johnkitchensjohnkitchens Posts: 5,079
    edited March 2013
    @LittleSteven I have never even considered this, I assume you mean the paraffin blocks. IMHO they leave the worst taste on food.

    I have only lit my grill using two of the Big Green Egg firestarters. My wife did say that everything cooked on the grill more or less has the same flavor. Now I am wondering if we are tasting the block. 

    I can't get a MAPP torch by this weekend, and I don't have the electrical deal you plug in to light the grill. 

    Is there another lighting method I could try as a test to see if we are tasting the blocks? 

    Louisville, GA - 2 Large BGE's
  • Little StevenLittle Steven Posts: 28,817
    Yeah, You can use a propane torch, lots of guys use napkins or paper towels twisted and drizzled with a little cooking oil or some newspaper. The newspaper can be a bit dangerous though. Main thing is to get the VOC's burned off and get clear smoke. If you wave your hand over the daisy towards your face and the smoke smells bad it is gonna taste bad.


    Caledon, ON


  • John others have posted about using veggie oil and paper towels and using them. I think you just want a slight cover on them so they will still burn.
  • Charlie tunaCharlie tuna Posts: 2,191
    Why do you cook so much "stuff" direct??  When coking direct the grease from the cooking food drops directly on the lump causing flareups and greasy tasting smoke that settles on your food.  Take your time on start ups, cook indirect, it allows the operator to relax, while enjoying adult beverages, and produces a nice BBQ smell in the neighborhood and house surroundings.  The wife will be starving by the time you finish the cook and less likely to complane! :D
  • stevehk1stevehk1 Posts: 15
    Thanks for all of the help.  I have used Royal Oak, Big Green Egg and Cowboy.  I was much happier with the Royal Oak and the BGE brands.  I thought the Cowboy had some weird looking chunks and after it had burned down I found what looked like rocks.  It sounds like a lack of patience might be my problem as once I have the temp I'm looking for I usually through the food on.  I have a Mapp torch so i will give that a try.  Should I maybe start by lighting the outside coals first and letting in spread inward?

  • Charlie tunaCharlie tuna Posts: 2,191
    Don't get swallowed up in all the arguements about different lump --  as long as it lights and makes fire - the egg will function.  I light mine in one place using a $9.99 electric element heater, in the bottom center, and thats works for me and i am used to the method - timewise..
  • MikeP624MikeP624 Posts: 292

    To get a more even distribution of coals I start mine with on starter cube in the center, and let it get up close to the temp i am looking for, when i am about 50 degrees shy of my target i use the ash tool to stir up the coals.  This serves two purposes, first it creats a more even heat distribution and eliminates hot spots.  And second it helps burn up any grease drippings from the other cook that were not located where i started the fire. 

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