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Big Green Egg 101 with Grillmaster Kurt Halls

Matawan World Of Gardening of Middlesex County Provides Grillmaster Tips Featuring Kurt Halls founder & CEO of Caribeque Seasoning and Rub Company

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Today we are talking Big Green Egg 101 with our friend Kurt Halls, who is the founder and CEO Caribeque Seasoning and Rub Co. Not only does Kurt make incredible cooking products, but he also teaches Big Green Egg cooking classes from his office in Tampa, FL..... If you are in the area, you have to check him out!

What is Big Green Egg 101?

I asked Kurt what the most valuable lesson taught in his cooking classes was.... I was expecting a recipe, gadget, or pro trick to implement into my cooking repertoire. Instead, what I got was this: "If a person does not know the basic parts of a Kamado grill and how they work, they cannot begin to tackle even the simplest of recipes". So in Big Green Egg 101 Kurt is walking us through the various parts of the Big Green Egg and how to properly use them along with a few pro-tips along the way.

Selecting Charcoal, Filling the Egg, and Lighting

The 1st step in cooking on your Kamado grill is selecting the right charcoal. Natural lump charcoal is the preferred fuel for all ceramic grills for many reasons. It lights fast, burns hot and clean, and produces less ash than briquettes do, which will cause the holes in your grate and firebox to clog up. Also, natural lump charcoal does not contain the un-needed chemicals or propellants that are present in most briquettes.

Fill your grill with lump to the line between the top of the fire box and bottom of the fire ring (sometimes a little more if you are smoking for a long period of time). Open Draft Door and Metal Top (AKA... Daisy Wheel) all the way. Light charcoal and give 10 minutes or so for the surrounding charcoal to catch and for the grill to heat up.

Temperature Control and Air Flow

Once the grill is lit, it is time to adjust the temperature. The diagram above illustrates how the Big Green Egg works. The more airflow you have, the hotter the grill gets. This holds true for both the draft door on bottom and the daisy wheel on top.

* Pro-tip from Kurt Halls - When smoking for longer periods of time (butts, brisket, ribs, etc...) open the draft door the width of your index finger. This should put the Egg into the 225°-250° window. Also, it is a lot easier to heat the Egg up, than to cool it down. So, start lower than your ideal grilling temperature and gradually open the draft door and daisy wheel until you hit your sweet spot! Another great tip from Kurt is to always keep the screw on the daisy wheel toward the back of your Egg while cooking. This prevents it from opening up, and if you do not notice it, the temperature of your grill can run away on you. Another option is to replace your daisy wheel with a Smokeware stainless steel Chimney Cap. The vent in the Chimney Cap maintains the position you set it in at all times, and also allows you to grill in the rain and keeps rain water from getting into your grill.

Direct vs Indirect Heat

Direct heat is when there is nothing in between your charcoal and food except for your grill grid. This allows heat from the charcoal to apply directly to what you are cooking. Direct heat is great for cooking steak, hamburgers, grilled chicken, etc...

Indirect Heat is when a plate setter is placed over the coals deflecting heat and allowing your egg to work like a convection oven. The plate setter is a must have option for anyone wanting to smoke at low temperatures or to bake. Ideal for butts, brisket, pizza, etc...

Burping your Egg

Another piece of advise from our friend Kurt is to always "Burp" your Kamado grill when opening. Especially if you are cooking at temperatures above 300°F. The video above shows how this is done by slightly opening the lid to let off pressure before completely opening. For most people this lesson is learned with a scare or two, but if you can learn it here it might save you some arm hair!

Cleaning Your Egg

Last but not least, Kurt brought up a very common and often overlooked problem. As mentioned above air flow is the lifeblood of your Big Green Egg. If the holes in your firebox or lower grate are stopped up with ash, you will not be able to maintain the proper air flow for you Egg to cook at its peak level. For this reason, clean out your grill making sure that all holes are open and free of debris. If you cook a lot you probably will want to have a good cleaning once a month. If you are a weekend warrior, you can stretch out cleaning sessions a little further.

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