About This Website

  1. What Is This Website About?
  2. Why "The Naked Whiz"?
  3. Is "The Naked Whiz" Affiliated With Big Green Egg?
  4. Do you sell charcoal? Are you affiliated with any brand of charcoal?


    Information About Ceramic Cookers

  5. Where did ceramic cookers come from?
  6. Where did the word "kamado" really come from?
  7. How are ceramic cookers constructed?
  8. How do you control temperature on ceramic cookers?
  9. How hot can you sear meats on a ceramic cooker?
  10. What range of temperatures can you use to cook on a ceramic cooker?
  11. Can I use ceramic cookers in the rain?
  12. Can I use ceramic cookers in cold weather?
  13. Can I leave ceramic cookers outside in cold weather?
  14. Can I use ceramic cookers on a wooden deck?
  15. What kind of charcoal should I use?
  16. How long can I cook on a single load of charcoal?
  17. How hot does the outside of a ceramic cooker get?
  18. Do you have a downloadable copy of the 1976 owner's manual?
  19. Do you have a downloadable copies of any other older cooker owner's manual?


    Information About Buying Ceramic Cookers

  20. Why should I buy a ceramic charcoal cooker?
  21. What size should I buy?
  22. How long will a ceramic charcoal cooker last?


    Using Ceramic Cookers

  23. Do I Need To Do Anything To Break In A New Ceramic Cooker?
  24. Do The Bands That Hold The Lid and Base Need To Be Tightened?
  25. How much charcoal should I use in my ceramic cooker?
  26. How Should I Light The Charcoal?
  27. How Should I Build A Fire For A Low And Slow Cook?
  28. How Do I Lower The Temperature Of My Ceramic Cooker?
  29. How Do I Remove The Ash From The Cooker?
  30. Should I Clean The Ash Out After Every Cook?
  31. How Do I Clean A Ceramic Cooker After Cooking?
  32. Should I Cover My Cceramic Cooker?
  33. Can I Burn Wood In A Ceramic Cooker?
  34. How Can I Cook Pizza In A Ceramic Cooker?
  35. How Do I Cook Pulled Pork In A Ceramic Cooker?
  36. How Do I Cook Brisket In A Ceramic Cooker?
  37. Can I Use A Ceramic Cooker As A Fryer?
  38. Can I Use A Ceramic Cooker To Do Cold Smoking?
  39. What's The Difference Between The BGE Spring and Auto-lock Hinges?


    Accessories for Ceramic Cookers

  40. What's The Best Way To Move A Big Green Egg In An Eggnest?
  41. What Is A Plate Setter?
  42. Where Can I Buy A Plate Setter?
  43. What Is A Grid Extender?
  44. What Is The Correct Way To Use A Grid Lifter?
  45. How Does The Daisy Wheel Top Work on a Big Green Egg?
  46. How Do I Keep The Daisy Wheel Top In Place When I Open The Egg?
  47. What Size Pizza Stone Should I Get?
  48. Should I Season My New Pizza Stone?
  49. How Should I Clean My Pizza Stone?


    Other Companies' Accessories

  50. What other brands of dome thermometers can be used?
  51. Is there a plate setter for the small Big Green Egg?
  52. Are there any devices for automatically controlling temperature?


    Home Brewed Accessories

  53. How Do I Make A Raised Grid?
  54. How Do I Make A Pizza peel?
  55. How Do I Make A Table For My Ceramic Cooker?
  56. What Are Fire Bricks? What Are They For?


    Problems You May Encounter

  57. My firebox cracked. What should I do?
  58. My firebox has a straight crack up the side. What should I do?
  59. My grate cracked. What should I do?
  60. My Egg won't heat up like it used to.
  61. My gasket leaks What should I do?
  62. Food takes too long to cook. What should I do?
  63. Food cooks too fast. What should I do?
  64. My thermometer reads 200 degrees when there's no fire! What should I do?
  65. How do I calibrate my thermometer?
  66. Why does my thermometer get out of calibration?
  67. Why doesn't my thermometer read zero degrees when the cooker is cold?
  68. My pizza stone cracked. What should I do to avoid this in the future?
  69. My Polder remote thermometer started reading CRAZY temperatures. Why?
  70. My Egg froze shut in cold weather. How do I get it open?
  71. The top and bottom of my cooker are stuck together. How do I get them open?
  72. I've noticed a hot spot in my fires. What can I do about it?
  73. There's mold growing in my ceramic cooker. What should I do about it?
  74. There are tiny cracks in the glaze on my cooker. Is this normal?
  75. The lid on my cooker won't stay open. What should I do?
  76. Can I repair a broken ceramic cooker?


    General Information About Smoking/Barbecuing

  77. What kinds of woods are good for smoking?
  78. Should I soak my chips or chunks of smoking wood in water?
  79. Are all hickory chunks the same?
  80. At what temperatures does meat absorb smoke?
  81. How can I increase the smoke flavor in a piece of meat?
  82. What is a smoke ring?
  83. What is the temperature plateau?
  84. Am I Only Supposed To Use Sauce In The Last 10 Minutes?


    Information About Cooking Big Pieces Of Meat

  85. My butt/brisket got done too soon! What do I do to hold the meat until dinner?
  86. How long can you hold meat in a cooler?
  87. How much meat do I need for a large crowd?
  88. Do two butts take twice as long to cook as one butt?


    Safety Questions

  89. What safety issues should I be aware of?
  90. What is Flashback?
  91. What is Back Draft?
  92. My Egg is in a wood table. What should I place beneath it to protect the wood from heat?
  93. Are gaskets like the Rutland, Cotronics and Nomex gaskets safe?


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About This Website

  1. What is this website about?
    This website is about cooking with ceramic charcoal cookers! We only own Komodo Kamado and Big Green Egg cookers, so of course, this website is going to be contain information based on our experiences with these cookers, but much of the information should be valuable to owners of Kamado, Primo, Grill Dome and Imperial Kamado cookers as well. When you see us answer a question, just substitute the name of your cooker and see if the answer still makes sense.
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  2. Why "The Naked Whiz"?
    Well, it isn't as exciting or naughty as you probably were hoping. When we first started hanging out at the Big Green Egg bulletin board, we needed to choose a handle. We saw some fellow named "Spin" posting, and we thought it was a great name. Why? We don't know. Why do we like vanilla ice cream with Magic Shell on it? We chose "Whiz". After a couple of weeks we decided to change the name to "Naked Whiz" in the fashion of English celebrity chef Jamie Oliver, "The Naked Chef". Thus was born The Naked Whiz.
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  3. Is "The Naked Whiz" Affiliated With Big Green Egg?
    We often get asked this question. But, no, we are not a dealer or distributor for Big Green Egg products, nor are we an employee of Big Green Egg. We have never received anything from Big Green Egg, either merchandise or money. We do not endorse their products. While we do own three Big Green Egg cookers at the moment (and we love them!), this website is about all ceramic charcoal cookers, not just Big Green Egg cookers. While our experience is obviously mostly with Big Green Egg cookers, we work hard to try to make our content as brand-neutral as possible. Incidentally, we also own a Komodo Kamado cooker, but we are also not affiliated with them in any way, either.
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  4. Do you sell charcoal? Are you affiliated with any brand of charcoal?
    We often get asked this question, also. But, no, we are not a dealer or distributor for any brand of charcoal, nor are we an employee of any brand of charcoal. We often receive samples of charcoal for doing our reviews, but in general, other than one over-zealous manufacturer who sent us T-shirts, a sweatshirt, and a hat, we have never received anything from any manufacturers of charcoal except for charcoal samples.
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    Information About Ceramic Cookers

  5. Where did ceramic cookers come from?
    Who invented the kamado style barbecue cooker? It isn't who you think. A gentleman named Farhad Sazegar holds the only utility patent for a kamado-style barbecue cooker. Here is some very interesting information about patents and who has 'em and who doesn't!
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  6. Where did the word "kamado" really come from?
    Where did the word "kamado" really come from? Well, considering the word is thousands of years old, we're pretty sure it wasn't invented in the sixties by a certain importer of clay cookers. Here are the results of our research into the origins of this word.
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  7. How are ceramic cookers constructed?
    Ceramic cookers are made of various materials and the use of the term "ceramic" is quite loose in the industry. Materials include "space age" ceramics, terra cotta, refractory materials and portland cement mixed with lava rock. The walls of ceramic cookers walls are heavy and thick with the thickness varying depending on the maker. The temperature tolerated by these materials varies, but most makes can easily withstand cooking temperatures up to 1000 degrees. However, you should follow the instructions that come with your particular cooker. But this allows you to sear your steaks at 700 or more, smoke your barbecue at 200 or less, and roast and bake at all temperatures in between. Ceramic cookers will maintain the temperature you set due to their good insulating characteristics, and perform well at high and low temperatures! If you are curious, click here for an animation showing how the Big Green Egg is constructed.
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  8. How do you control temperature on ceramic cookers?
    You control temperature by controlling the amount of air that enters and exits the cooker. Ceramic cookers have a vent at the bottom of the cooker and a vent at the top of the cooker. Both vents are adjustable in some way so that you can precisely control the airflow. By controlling the airflow, you can control the temperature to within a few degrees. More details about temperature control can be found by reading our web page on Temperature Control.
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  9. How hot can you sear meats on a cooker?
    You can sear meats at very high temperatures on ceramic cookers due to the fact that you will be using lump charcoal, which burns hotter than briquettes, and due to the fact that ceramic cookers can be closed up except for vents at the bottom and the top. This creates a chimney effect which fans the fire and gets it much hotter than charcoal sitting in a typical open type of charcoal grill with no draft. More details with specific temperature information can be found by reading our web page on Searing Temperatures.
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  10. What range of temperatures can you use to cook on a ceramic cooker?
    The range of temperatures you can use on a ceramic charcoal cooker is truly amazing. You can cold smoke cheese at 85 degrees, sear steaks at over 1200 degrees and do lots more at every temperature in between. A graphic representation along with recipes that demonstrate the range can be found by viewing our Ceramic Thermometer web page.
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  11. Can I use ceramic cookers in the rain?
    Yes. Ceramic cookers work great in the rain. In a real downpour, you may need to fashion some sort of protection over the top vent to prevent water from entering the cooker, but rain shouldn't stop you from using a ceramic cooker. Below are a couple of photos of two owners' solution. Of course umbrellas, stove pipe caps, and any number of other methods could be used.

    Cooking in the rain
    Cooking in the rain

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  12. Can I use ceramic cookers in cold weather?
    Most definitely. While those metal cooker owners are busy rigging up insulation, wind blocks and who knows what else, you can use a ceramic cooker in the coldest of weather. The ceramic insulates the fire from the cold and allows you to cook without having to resort to other fixes. Charcoal consumption will be greater, but you will still be able to cook for long periods of time on a single load of charcoal.
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  13. Can I leave ceramic cookers outside in cold weather?
    Most definitely. Cold temperatures will not hurt your cooker. It is probably a good idea to keep it covered, but there is no reason why you would need to take it indoors during the winter.
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  14. Can I use ceramic cookers on a wooden deck?
    Of course you can! But you need to take appropriate cautions. You probably don't want to use a ceramic cooker on a wooden deck with the just three ceramic feet that come, for example, with a Big Green Egg. While this does provide an air gap between the bottom of the cooker and the wood of the deck, you still need to be concerned with the odd ember or two that might come out of the lower vent. Also, the bottom of ceramic cookers can get reasonably hot under some conditions and it is better to add a layer of protection between them and the deck. You can use a grill mat, but be sure that the one you choose is suitable for use under a charcoal grill. Many mats are really designed for use under gas grills (ptui!) and are only intended to catch grease drips and keep your deck clean. Another option is to place bricks or cement stepping stones on your deck as the base surface to place your cooker on. Make sure that this surface extends to the front enough to catch any embers which might drop from the lower vent.
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  15. What type of charcoal should I use?
    This one's easy! Lump charcoal is really the only choice. Lump charcoal is pure charcoal with no additives, no lighter fluid, just charcoal. It produces much much less ash than briquettes and this is important. If you look at how ceramic cookers are constructed, you'll see that the charcoal sits in a bowl called the fire box. The ash from the fire will fall down into the bottom of this bowl, and there isn't a lot of room for the mountains of ash that you get from burning briquettes. More information about lump charcoal can be found at our Lump Charcoal Database.
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  16. How long can I cook on a single load of charcoal?
    If you load up a large Big Green Egg, for example, so that the charcoal comes halfway up the fire ring, and if you use ordinary hardwood lump charcoal, you will find that you can cook at low temperatures for 30-40 hours. Yes, we said HOURS! We personally have cooked pork butts for 20 hours and still had at least half the charcoal that we started with left in the cooker. You will never have to add more charcoal during a cook with a ceramic cooker as long as you start with enough charcoal.
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  17. How hot does the outside of a ceramic cooker get?
    This is a very good question, and one that gets many wrong answers. Unfortunately some dealers and owners state that the outside of ceramic cookers remain "cool to the touch". This, of course, is rubbish. Here's a link to our webpage on How Hot Does The Surface of a Ceramic Charcoal Cooker Get?
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  18. Do you have a downloadble copy of the 1976 owner's manual?
    We love FAQs filled with manufactured questions in order to provide the answers that the author of the FAQ wants to give you, rather than the ones you want to ask. Sort of like when your company takes away your pension and then gives you an FAQ filled with questions about how wonderful it is that you no longer have a pension, rather than the questions that their employees are actually asking. So here's our entry, LOL! YES!! We have a downloadable copy of the 1976 owner's manual right here!!
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  19. Do you have a downloadable copies of any other older cooker owner's manual?
    This is too easy! Click here for what we have.
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    Information About Buying Ceramic Cookers

  20. Why should I buy a ceramic cooker?
    Ceramic charcoal cookers are indeed expensive, so why should you buy one? Click here for our web page outlining the benefits of cooking with a ceramic charcoal cooker.
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  21. What size should I buy?
    Unless you have some specific use in mind which would require a specific size, for general use the standard advice is this: Buy the largest size you feel you can afford. Even if "it's only the two of us", get the largest size you think you can afford. Every time this question pops up on online forums, there are a number of posts from folks who bought a smaller cooker and now wish they had bought a larger size. Make no mistake, the smaller cookers can cook anything that the larger cookers can and there are plenty of happy owners who only have one of the smaller cookers. But the larger sizes give you the greatest flexibility unless you have some specific purpose in mind, like taking a cooker on camping trips. Here are some examples of when you might want a large cooker, even though "it's only the two of us":

    • Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner. Maybe you will be cooking a large turkey for family? Even if dinner is at their house, you might be asked to bring the bird once they find out what you can do on a ceramic cooker.
    • Party, party, party! Will you ever have a cookout and want to cook for a large number of people?
    • Cooking burgers or chicken parts? If you need grid space, the largest cooker will give you the most space obviously.
    • Will you ever cook a meal for a homeless shelter? Don't laugh. We did. 32 pounds of pork butt to feed 37 women in a shelter.
    • Will you ever want to cook a large amount of food to freeze for later?
    • Will you ever get bit by the paella bug and want to have room for a large pan?

    If you buy a large Big Green Egg and subsequently decide to buy a second cooker, the perfect companion to the large Egg is the small Egg. It is just small enough that you could transport it somewhere without too much difficulty. It is the perfect size for smaller cooks now that "it's only the two us." It is also the perfect size to do vegetables or other side dishes if you have a big piece of meat going in the large cooker. You may find similar pairings available in other brands of ceramic cookers.

    Also, some folks who are really looking for a small and portable cooker ask the question, "Which should I buy, a small Egg or a mini Egg?" Here is what Big Green Egg forum regular "Nature Boy" has to say on that specific choice:

    The mini is cool. Very cool. You can sear the pants off anything. And you can pick it up and run with it. Well, not until it's cooled down :-)

    Anyways, the small is of another world. Surprisingly long burn on a load of charcoal, and it don't sear too bad itself. Plus you can put a dutch oven on it, or set it up indirect and roll a rack of ribs. You can hang a small drip pan on the fire ring, and set up 2 tiers for doing chicken or whatever. It's really a lot like your large, only smaller.

    If you want something to run around with, and throw in the trunk on a whim, and you want to put a mean 45 second sear on an elk steak....then get the mini. If you want a versatile cooker to compliment your large, get the small.


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  22. How Long Will A Ceramic Charcoal Cooker Last?
    Modern day ceramic charcoal cookers should last your lifetime and perhaps beyond. While gas grills need new burners every few years, and even rust to pieces every few years if you don't care for them, ceramic charcoal cookers are made of ceramic or refractory materials that will last a good long time. Even the older terra cotta cookers that were brought into this country back in the 1960's are still going. So, as one manufacturer says, "Choose wisely because you will be giving this cooker to your children."
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    Using Ceramic Cookers

  23. Do I Need To Do Anything To Break In A New Ceramic Cooker?
    This depends on the brand of cooker you are using. The Kamado company cookers with tiles must be broken in with a certain number of hours of low temperature cooking. This is to cure the grout and adhesive holding the tiles and failure to do so can result in tile failure. On the other hand, the Komodo Kamaodo tiled cookers require no break-in whatsoever because they are "pre-broken in" at the factory. At one time, simpler ceramic cookers like Big Green Egg and Primo did not require a break-in and you could cook at any temperature you wish from the day you brought them home. Recently however, Big Green Egg has begun using different gasket material that does require some lower-temperature cooking to cure the adhesive. Needless to say, you should check with your manufacturer's instructions to be sure what procedure, if any, is required for your brand of cooker.
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  24. Do The Bands That Hold The Lid and Base Need To Be Tightened?
    You should check the tightness of the bands when you first get your cooker, if it has them, even if it came pre-assembled. We have found that cookers pre-assembled by dealers sometimes aren't quite completely pre-assembled. Next, you should check the tightness of the bands after your first cook. Allow the cooker to completely cool and then check to make sure the bands are still tight. Then, you should occasionally check the tightness of the bands to make sure that they haven't worked loose. When properly tightened, the bolts on a Big Green Egg should be bent, as you can see in the photo at right. It is difficult to over-tighten these bolts. We have never heard of anyone breaking a cooker from over-tightening the bolts. However, letting the bolts get loose can result in the lid coming off the cooker and possibly breaking and injuring someone. Be sure to read and follow your particular cooker's instructions on this topic!
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  25. How much charcoal should I use in my ceramic cooker?
    It's hard to have too much, but you don't want to have too little. The minimum amount of charcoal you should probably ever use (except perhaps for ultra-low temperature smoking like cheese), is enough to just about fill the fire box. For high temperature cooking like steaks, you need to fill the fire box to the top. For long overnight low and slow cooking, you may want to load it up to about halfway up the fire ring so you are sure to have enough to last the entire cook. Just don't worry about having too much or wasting your charcoal. When you are done cooking, close the lower vent and place the ceramic cap on the top vent. The fire will go out and all the remaining charcoal will be preserved, ready for your next cook.
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  26. How Should I Light The Charcoal?
    There are all sorts of lighting techniques and with time, you will probably settle on your favorite method that works for you. There are electric starters. There are sawdust and parafin starters. There are starter cubes like those sold by Weber. There is a green gel starter that you can buy at Wal*Mart. (See safety warning below.) You can use a propane torch or a MAPP torch. (MAPP gas is sold in cylinders like propane, but with a different burner. It burns much hotter than propane.) Some people have made starters out of weed burners. They all work and are all different. Personally, we use the Weber cubes and the sawdust/parafin starter sticks made for use in the fireplace. (We just cut off pieces about 1-inch cubed.) You can also use newspaper, but you'll find it produces a lot of ash.

    Obviously, you should use whatever instructions come with your particular starter, if indeed you got any. (Propane and MAPP torches don't come with instructions on how to light charcoal. Wierd, huh? Operate the torch in accordance with the instructions, and watch out for sparks when you start the charcoal.) You do have an option, however, when using a starter cube or sawdust/parafin cube. You can place a cube or two or three semi-buried in the top of the charcoal, or you can place a cube or two underneath the grate by sticking it in through the bottom vent. Generally speaking, if you are not going to be doing a nuclear cook like steaks, put the starter cubes on/in the top of the charcoal and let the fire spread through the top. If you are going for high heat, then lighting the starter cubes underneath the grate will get a fire going in the charcoal from top to bottom.

    Safety Warning Regarding Alcohol-based Gel Starters That Are Packaged in Bottles: These starters pose a rather unique hazard if not used exactly according to their instructions. This product is alcohol-based and alcohol burns with a barely-visible flame. It is possible to have a flame present and not see it if you aren't looking carefully. The biggest danger is thinking there is no flame and then adding more gel to the fire. If you buy this product by the bottle, it is possible for the flame in the cooker to ignite the fumes in the bottle causing an explosion. This has actually happened, despite the label saying that the product is non-explosive. While the product itself, the gel, is not explosive, the product in its container can explode. Here is what happened, as reported by the victim:

    "I filled my mini with lump and added a few dabs of lighter gel. After igniting, I added a few chunks of coconut lump and in the process, put out the fire. At least I thought. I held the bottle over the grill and proceeded to squirt a few more dabs to relight the fire. That is where the first mistake took place. The fire was not out. I couldn't tell because it was daylight and the flame could not be seen. The flame quickly ignited the trail of gel and the flame ran up to the neck of the bottle. When I saw the flame on the bottle, my immediate reaction was to blow it out. Mistake number two. The next thing I remember was a loud boom, a huge flash of light and heat, wind and flame engulfing my face and neck. The blast blew my baseball cap right off my head. I could feel that my face was soaking wet and burning. I assumed I was on fire. I repeatedly slapped my face and eyes and the burning stopped. However, I couldn't open my eyes for close to a minute. By the grace of God my sight was not taken and as I looked around, I found my deck was on fire as well as my lump box and the side of my house. The burning gel had been blown about in a ten foot radius. I was able to extinguish the fires quickly with minimal damage. I rushed into the house to look at my face. It was completely black and the hair on my eyelashes and brows was partially burned away. I received a small burn on my right eyelid."
    Yes, he should not have added gel to a burning fire, but he didn't know it was burning. So, be careful with this product. We can only assume that all gelled alcohol products would behave the same way.
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  27. How Should I Build A Fire For A Low And Slow Cook?
    You'll find some differences of opinion on this. At one end of the spectrum we have the dump it and forget it crowd. They dump the charcoal into the cooker straight out of the bag, just being careful not to dump the bottom of the bag (dust and chips) into the cooker. At the other end of the spectrum, you'll find those that completely remove all the old lump, clean out all the ash, and then build a whole new fire. And to do this, they will sort their lump charcoal, putting the biggest pieces on the bottom, fitting them together like a jigsaw puzzle, and using smaller pieces as they build the pile of charcoal up.

    We are sort of in the middle. Well, ok, we are sort of towards the sorting end of the spectrum. We empty all the old lump out. We put several big pieces in the bottom of the fire, and we then add more lump carefully, making sure to use only pieces that are big enough to leave lots of air spaces between pieces. We don't do the jigsaw puzzle thing, however. Here is a link to a write-up on our first low and slow overnight cook: Click Here to read it. It contains a fair amount of detail as to how we built the fire.

    Once you have determined which end of the spectrum you want to pursue, there is one other word of advice. Use plenty of charcoal. Don't be shy. You don't want to run out. We fill my cooker up about 1/2 way up the fire ring. It's better to have too much than to have your fire go out.

    Assuming that you want some smoking chunks in your fire, we like to bury some chunks in the pile of charcoal near the top so they can start smoking later in the cook. We put a couple of fist-sized chunks on the top of the charcoal for the initial smoke. Other folks will mix in a good handful or two of chips throughout the charcoal so that they get a little smoke all the time during the cook.

    Then to start this pile of charcoal, we have had really good results with using a chimney starter to get a roaring fire going in the starter, and then dumping this on top of the charcoal and smoking chunks. The temperature in the cooker will rise initially from all that fire, but by the time you add your ceramic barrier, drip pan and cold meat, you will find the temperature will easily drop below 200 degrees. Then you can start regulating your fire with the air vents as you allow the temperature to rise towards your target temperature.
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  28. How Do I Lower The Temperature Of My Ceramic Cooker?
    If you are having trouble controlling the temperature on your cooker, you may wish to read our page on Temperature Control. In general, it is harder to cool the cooker than to heat the cooker, so you should strive not to get into a position where you do have to cool the cooker. However, if you want to cool the cooker down, all you can do close the vents and wait. Whatever you do, don't douse the whole cooker with a flood of water. If you are in serious need of cooling, you could open the cooker, remove the food, grids, etc. and shovel some or all of the charcoal into a metal bucket so as to reduce or remove the fire from the cooker. But generally speaking, closing the vents and waiting for the cooker to cool is your best bet.
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  29. How Do I Remove Ash From The Cooker?
    The easiest way to remove ash from your cooker is use an ash tool to scrape out the ash into a metal pan or bucket. Make sure you use a metal receptacle since you often can't be sure that there isn't a glowing ember in the ash. You can see a photo of the ash tool sold by Big Green Egg to the right. This works well on the large and medium Eggs. It can be a little tricky to maneuver through the smaller vent of the small egg, but it can be done. One other thing to note is that if you have any burned charcoal in the cooker already, you might as well give it a stir with the ash tool to knock off any loose ash and small pieces of charcoal. Then scrape it all out through the bottom vent with the ash tool.
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  30. Should I Clean The Ash Out After Every Cook?
    You don't have to remove ash after every cook since you will be burning lump charcoal which produces minimal ash. In fact, it is probably better if you don't clean the ash out after every cook. Ash is very good at insulating and a small amount of ash sitting on the bottom of your cooker will help keep the temperature down beneath the cooker. You only need to clean ash from the cooker when it is blocking the airflow from the vent up through the fire. Very little ash accumulates around the outside of the fire box, so you also don't need to remove the fire box very often to clean out behind it. The most important thing to do before every cook is to make sure that the air holes in the fire box are not blocked and that the holes in your grate are also not blocked.
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  31. How Do I Clean A Ceramic Cooker After Cooking?
    Oh happy day! The answer to this one is that you generally don't have to clean the cooker out! Obviously, you will want to clean the grid and occasionally clean out excess ash, but the walls of the cooker itself will turn black with use. They will build up a layer of smoke, fat, ash, whatever. This is ok! The cooker isn't supposed to stay white inside. You may find that this layer of build up will flake off from the inside of the dome over time. You probably want to help this along by scraping with a crumpled ball of aluminum foil so that the big flakes don't fall into your food. But in general, there is no need to do any cleaning of the inside of your cooker.
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  32. Should I Cover My Ceramic Cooker?
    It is probably a good idea. Although most ceramic cookers have fired exteriors, some do not. Tiled cookers would probably benefit from a cover to prevent moisture from penetrating the grout, should you not be diligent about sealing the grout. At least one brand of cooker has a painted exterior and it would be wise to consult the manufacturer about this issue. All ceramic cookers, however, have a hole in the top for a thermometer, and water can enter the cooker via this hole. This can contribute to moisture levels in the cooker when you are not using it and thus make mold more likely to form. A good cover can never hurt.
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  33. Can I Burn Wood In A Ceramic Cooker?
    Not really. You don't want to simply burn wood in a ceramic cooker. You are asking for creosote deposits on the inside of the cooker. Also, you may find it very hard to regulate the temperature because the wood may choose to ignite and burn with a flame, sending the temperature sky high. If you cut down on the airflow, the flames may go out and the wood will smolder producing clouds of smoke. If you want to try using wood in a ceramic cooker, you should probably do it the way that folks do in normal BBQ pits: burn the wood down to coals in another container, and then add the coals to the cooker as needed to keep your temperature where you want it.

    Note that this information comes from personal experience. We were asked to review a wood fuel product which was going to be advertised as a replacement for charcoal. When doing our normal burntime test, we ended up with creosote on the dome of our cooker, and the top vent was stuck shut. We couldn't regulate the temperature and the wood only lasted about 25-35% of the time that even the worst charcoals would burn.
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  34. How Can I Cook Pizza On A Ceramic Cooker?
    We have an entire page of hints and tips for cooking pizza. Click Here to read it.
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  35. How Do I Cook Pulled Pork In A Ceramic Cooker?
    This is another topic for which we have separate pages. First of all, the seminal work on this topic was written by Elder Ward in the Big Green Egg Forum. Click here for Elder Ward's writeup. He includes instructions for building and maintaining the fire, preparing and cooking the meat, as well as recipes and tips for serving the meat.

    We also have a page about the topic from the perspective of a first time cook, recounting our very first overnight pulled pork cook. Click here for a description of our first overnight low and slow cook.
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  36. How Do I Cook Brisket In A Ceramic Cooker?
    Ah, here's another topic to which we have devoted an entire page. Click here to read our Brisket Hints and Tips page.
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  37. Can I Use A Ceramic Cooker As A Fryer?
    You may be tempted to put something like a Lodge dutch oven in your cooker, heat it up to frying temperatures and then deep fry some catfish or something like that. BAD IDEA!! If you spill the oil, or if the oil bubbles over the edges of the pot into the fire, you will have quite a firebomb to contend with. Do not use your cooker as a fryer! You can sautee using small amounts of oil (see our page on Paella for details), but do not deep fry!
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  38. Can I Use A Ceramic Cooker To Do Cold Smoking?
    Absolutely. We have a number of articles on cold smoking. Here's an article on How To Build A Cold Smoke Generator From A Paint Can. Here's an article about using a few briquettes and smoking chips to Cold Smoke Cheese. Here's another article about just using your ceramic cooker at low temperatures to Smoke Salmon. Finally, here's yet another article that uses a small can, some lump charcoal and wood chips to Cold Smoke Beef Jerky. And there will be more! We are working on an article that demonstrates how to use a soldering iron and a tin can full of wood chips to do cold smoking. Stay tuned!
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  39. What's The Difference Between The BGE Spring and Auto-lock Hinges?
    Good question! If you are going to make a table for your Big Green Egg cooker, you need to know which hinge type you have in order to know what the distance should be between the lower shelf and the table top. Here are some photos to help you determine what type of hinge you have:


    These two photos show the auto-lock hinge on a large and medium Big Green Egg cooker. Notice the lever on the left side of each photo. If you have this lever, you have an auto-lock hinge.


    These two photos show the spring hinge on a small Big Green Egg cooker. The spring hinge for the medium and large Big Green Egg cookers look very similar. The XL BGE cooker has always had a spring hinge, so there should be no confusion if you own an XL Big Green Egg. Notice that there is no lever on the spring hinge. If you do not have a lever, you have a spring hinge.

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    Questions About Accessories for Ceramic Cookers

  40. What's The Best Way To Move A Big Green Egg In An Egg Nest?
    An Eggnest is the metal frame on wheels that you can buy to hold a Big Green Egg. They are quite handy if you don't choose to do something fancy like build a table or enclosure for your cooker. However, an Eggnest can be a little bit tricky to drive. The wheels on the Eggnest are relatively small and thus when moving the Eggnest, if you run into a pebble or the gap between boards on your deck, the Eggnest might suddenly stop. Thus we come to this bit of advice. Never, ever push a cooker in an Eggnest. If the nest comes to an abrupt stop, you may end up pushing the whole thing over resulting in a broken cooker. Make it a habit to always pull the cooker and the nest towards you when moving them. We personally like to grab the nest itself and pull, rather than grabbing the cooker by the handle or hinge and pulling. Getting a grip lower down makes it less likely that you will be able to pull the whole thing over.
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  41. What Is A Plate Setter?
    The Plate Setter (note the spelling) is a tool used in ceramics to hold plates in the kiln. They can be stacked so as to hold many plates. It turns out to be one of the handiest tools we have for cooking on the Big Green Egg. There are models available for small, medium and large cookers. The plate setter for the large Big Green Egg will also work in a round Primo cooker. You can use it in two different positions, legs up and legs down. The first photo below shows the plate setter legs down ready to be used for cooking pizza. You would simply place the pizza stone on the plate setter and now you have accomplished two things. First, you have an additional layer of ceramic between the pizza and the fire which allows for better temperature regulation and fewer burned crusts. Second, you have raised the pizza stone up to the level of the opening of your cooker which allows you to use a peel to slide the pizza in and out of the cooker with ease.

    The second photo below shows the plate setter legs up for indirect cooking. As you can see, you can place the drip pan on the plate setter and then put the grid on the legs of the plate setter to hold the food.

    Plate setter setup for pizza
    Plate setter setup for pizza.
    Cooking in the rain
    Plate setter setup for indirect cooking.

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  42. Where Can I Buy A Plate Setter?
    The Big Green Egg company sells three sizes of plate setters, one for the small egg, one for the medium egg and one for the large egg. Needless to say, the one for the large egg will work in any ceramic cooker that is about 18 inches inside diameter. You can order these items directly from Big Green Egg in Atlanta by calling them. Many dealers also stock plate setters. If no dealers near you stock them or they aren't willing to order one, you can try the online dealers listed in our Ceramic Links page. Several of them list the plate setters on their ordering page. And finally, any ceramic supply house will probably sell some sort of plate setter. You need to make sure the size is right, the height is right, and that the plate setter doesn't have a hole in the middle of it.
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  43. What Is A Grid Extender?
    The Grid Extender is another useful device sold by Big Green Egg for increasing your cooking capacity. Here is a photo showing the Grid Extender above the grid. You can place food on both grids to almost double your cooking capacity.
    Grid Extender
    Grid extender attached to the main grid.
    Grid Extender
    The grid extender.
    Grid Extender
    The grid extender has two wings that fold up.

    Note that the old grid extender from Big Green Egg could be hung beneath the main grid for holding a drip pan. This grid extender is no longer sold and the current grid extender cannot be hung beneath the main grid.
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  44. What Is The Correct Way To Use A Grid Lifter?
    The Grid Lifter is a handy tool for holding hot grids and dirty grids without getting your hands dirty. It isn't meant to hold a grid with 15 pounds of meat on it, but it is meant to help you move your grids around when empty. However, some folks don't use it correctly and it is possible to drop a grid if you don't use it correctly. Here are photos of the correct and incorrect way to use the grid lifter:

    Grid lifter in the correct position
    Grid lifter used properly.
    Grid lifter in the wrong position
    Grid lifter used incorrectly.

    Notice that when using the grid lifter incorrectly, the jaws have been placed around both grid wires. If you do this, you are relying on the strength of your grip to hold the grid. If you let up on your hold, the grid can come loose. See how the jaws go around only the first wire and UNDER the second wire when using the grid lifter correctly? Now you have leverage, gravity and numerous other laws of nature on your side. The grid will stay on the Grid Lifter all by itself like this and you don't have to exert any effort to squeeze the Grid Lifter to keep its grip on the grid.
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  45. How Does The Daisy Wheel Top Work?
    The actual name of this device is the "Dual Function Metal Top". It is composed of two moving parts,
    Daisy wheel multi function top
    The "daisy wheel" top.
    the slider which opens by pivoting it on the screw which holds it to the metal shell, and the daisy wheel, which is the part which rotates and has a number of oval shaped holes arranged in a circle.

    You can effect major adjustments by moving the slider to open or close the big hole in the top. You can create smaller changes by rotating the daisy wheel by small amounts so as to open or close the radial holes in the top.

    Note that the Multi Function Metal Top is not really intended to be used to snuff out the fire when you are done. It is not airtight and enough air will creep into the cooker to prolong the fire. If you wish to put the fire out, use the ceramic top, also known as the ceramic rain cap, to completely snuff out the fire.
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  46. How Do I Keep The Daisy Wheel Top In Place When I Open The Egg?
    You will find that when you open the top of the Big Green Egg that the daisy wheel slider top will swing to one side or the other, thus messing up your carefully set temperature adjustment. The way to prevent this from happening is to position the top so that when you open the top of the Egg, the slider top will hang from the pivot point. Below are some photos from the front and the back showing how to position the top so that the slider will remain in position when you open the Egg.

    Note: The first person in recorded history to think of this little trick was probably Sir Isaac Newton, shortly after the apochryphal apple hit him on the head. However, the first person in the modern era to share this idea was Tim Moore. You can visit his site at www.tm52.com.

    Front, lid closedBack, lid open

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  47. What Size Pizza Stone Should I Get?
    We have found that the 14-inch stone sold by Big Green Egg is the perfect size for the medium Egg, while the 12-inch stone is perfect for the small Egg. Big Green Egg doesn't sell a 16-inch stone, so we purchased such a stone from a kitchen store for our large Egg. We have found that these stones leave adequate airflow to get the cooker hot enough for cooking pizza and allow for the largest possible cooking area.

    Primo sells a pizza stone for their round cooker, and of course, it can also be used on the large oval cooker. Komodo Kamado sells a massive 15" round pizza stone that would be acceptable for use in any ceramic cooker which is at least 17" across.
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  48. Should I Season My New Pizza Stone?
    No! A ceramic baking stone should never be seasoned. It serves several purposes in baking. First it is a barrier between the dough and the intense radiant heat of the fire. Second, a preheated stone provides an initial burst of heat that gives dough an initial push in rising when it is placed on the stone. But the reason why you don't want to put anything on your baking stone to season it is that the bare ceramic surface also absorbs some of the moisture in the dough and helps to develop the crust. So, any new ceramic baking stone should be used just as it is without any sort of seasoning. Save the seasoning for the cast iron.

    On the other hand, there are baking stones sold which are not made from ceramic. The manufacturers of these stones apparently do recommend that you season the stone. So all we can say is that if you use a ceramic stone, do not season it. If you use a stone made from something else, follow the manufacturer's instructions.
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  49. How Should I Clean My Pizza Stone?
    A well-used pizza stone should be stained, so don't think that you need to clean it and restore it to like-new condition. Never wash a stone with soapy water. Use a scraper to scrape off any burnt-on foods. If you have food residue on the stone which hasn't burned to a blackened crisp, put the stone in a 400-500 degree cooker (or even use your stove in your kitchen) and get it nice and burned. Then you can scrape it off. Also, you can use a damp rag if you want to clean it a bit more thoroughly, but do not use soap. Soap can get into the porous stone and add nasty flavors to your food.
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    Other Companies' Accessories

  50. What other brands of dome thermometers can be used?
    You may find that the thermometer which comes with your cooker isn't the highest quality. It may not stay in calibration or it may just start giving false readings. You may wish to consider thermometers from Tel-Tru Manufacturing. These cost a little more, but they are more accurate and seem to be much more reliable and long lasting. Read our web page, Which Tel-Tru Thermometer Should I Buy? to make sure you buy the right model.
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  51. Is there a plate setter for the small Big Green Egg?
    There is now, but check out an ingenious solution for providing different setups on the small Big Green Egg from GrateMates. You will probably want both!
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  52. Are there any devices for automatically controlling temperature?
    There are a number of different models of temperature controllers available from three companies called The BBQ Guru, The Stoker, and Auber Instruments. You can read our reports on most of their products by visiting our Product Reviews page.
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    Home Brewed Accessories

  53. How Do I Make A Raised Grid?
    With a few stainless steel bolts, nuts and washers, you can make a very handy raised grid. We use ours for making spatchcocked chicken which we cook direct, but on a raised grid. Here are some photos:

    Home made raised grid
    Home made raised grid.
    Home made raised grid
    Home made raised grid.

    For a large Big Green Egg, you can use 5 inch x 1/4 inch bolts with matching nuts, and 1 and 1/4 inch washers. This will raise the grid just above the opening of the cooker. (For other sized cookers, you can measure the distance from the fire ring to the opening and use appropriate length bolts.) You can used galvanized hardware or stainless hardware as you see fit. Some say you should stick to stainless steel because there is a chance that galvanized and zinc-coated hardware could result in zinc fumes which are poisonous. However, as you can see from this paper from Sperko Engineering Services, zinc doesn't vaporize until approximately 1,650°F, so it is highly doubtful that galvanized hardware in a ceramic charcoal cooker presents any hazard. The second photo shows a closer view of one of the legs. We used 3 legs since we all know from geometry that 3 points define a plane and thus it won't wobble.

    Notice that we have bent the bolt so that it extends outward. If you don't do this the legs won't sit on the fire ring in the Egg. This was done trial and error until the legs were splayed out enough to safely sit on the fire ring.
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  54. How Do I Make A Pizza peel?
    First of all, you can buy peels from any restaurant supply house and I'm sure you could dig one up at a place like William's Sonoma. Restaurant supply houses are bound to be much cheaper if you can find one near you. If you have some basic woodworking skills, you can make your own. Click here to see how I did it and maybe you will get some ideas of your own.
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  55. How Do I Make A Table For My Ceramic Cooker?
    Well, there are so many different possibilities here that perhaps you need to see some examples and then design your own. Most of the plans we have seen are for Big Green Egg cookers, but they should be adaptable to most brands of cookers. Click here to read possibly the most bizarre account of building a table ever written. My starting point was the Big Green Egg table plans which you can link to below. Also, you will find an equally bizarre account of how to make a table for your small Big Green Egg for under $100 by clicking here.

    Here is a page of photos of different types of tables that members of the Big Green Egg Forum have built: Table Gallery

    Here some links to webpages that have plans or instructions for making tables:

    Plans For Building The Naked Whiz's Table -- Very detailed plans and material list.

    Official BGE Plans For XL Cooker -- The plans from the BGE website
    Official BGE Plans For Large Cooker -- The plans from the BGE website
    Official BGE Plans For Medium Cooker -- The plans from the BGE website
    Official BGE Plans For Small Cooker -- The plans from the BGE website
    Tex Duncan's Table Plans (PDF) -- Adobe Acrobat version of table plans with all details
    Wise One's Table Plans (PDF) -- Another Adobe Acrobat version of table plans with all the details: drawings, materials list, cutting list, step by step directions!!
    Wise One's Mini Egg Table Plans (PDF) -- An Adobe Acrobat drawings for a table to hold a Mini Egg!
    Charcoal Mike's Table Plans -- Mike's web page with plans.

    NOTE NOTE NOTE!! Tex's and Wise One's Plans need to be modified if your Egg has the new spring hinge. The vertical distance between the lower shelf and the top has to be reduced so that the Egg sits about 2 inches higher than before. (Dimension B in the original Official BGE Plans used to be 17". The new plans list this dimension as "Dimension A" and it is now 15".)


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  56. What Are Fire Bricks? What Are They For?
    Fire bricks are high temperature bricks used in applications like fireplaces. They can be useful for providing ceramic barriers for indirect cooking and for propping things up in your cooker. Here's a link to our web page containing a lot more information and photos and how you can use these handy items in your cooking.
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    Problems You May Encounter

  57. My firebox cracked. What should I do?
    First of all let us start out with a photo of my firebox. See how it has broken into 3 pieces. This is how it has been for two and a half years. There is no reason to remove it from the egg very often, but I have pulled it out here to show you how completely broken it is, yet it works just as well as a brand new firebox:

    Cracked Fire Box
    A cracked/broken firebox.

    Almost everyone has had their firebox crack and break. While this probably shouldn't be called "normal", it is actually normal. What we all have found is that the firebox will continue to work just fine when cracked or broken. Owners have used their eggs for several years with cracked and broken fireboxes, so there is nothing wrong with continuing to use yours.

    That said, Big Green Egg will replace the firebox under warrantee, but you will find that there is a shipping charge of about $25. Ouch! In order to reduce the shipping charge, you might want to find a dealer who is willing to get you a replacement and have it shipped with one of their regular shipments. In this way, they can charge you a whole lot less for shipping. You don't need the replacement firebox anytime soon, so you can afford to wait until the dealer does get a new shipment in. Also, your dealer may require that you return the cracked firebox in order to get the new one. So call first and see what they will require.

    Once you have your new firebox, do what most of us have done. Put it away in a safe place and don't use it until your present firebox becomes unusable. As I have already said, the cracked and broken fireboxes work perfectly well. It is important to note that today's fireboxes crack and break, but the DO NOT disintegrate or crumble to dust. Once they crack or break, and the stress is relieved, they will probably crack no more and break no more. In fact, most owners feel that to solve this problem, BGE should make a multi-part firebox that can take the stress of expansion and contraction better. Well, guess what you have when your firebox cracks and breaks? A multi-part firebox! Once your firebox looks like mine, it will probably provide good service for the rest of your life.
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  58. My firebox has a straight crack up the side. What should I do?
    Does the crack in your firebox look like the photo to the right? Is your ceramic charcoal cooker manufactured by Big Green Egg? If so, then all is well. What you have is the new and improved firebox from Big Green Egg which was introduced in the early part of 2010. That "crack" that you see is part of the design and intended to prevent real cracks from forming in the firebox. That "crack" provides a gap which allows the firebox walls to expand and contract safely during heating and cooling cycles, preventing cracks from forming.

    We don't know at this time how effective this new design is, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. Charcoal cookers designed by Komodo Kamado have two part fireboxes and there have been no reports of their fireboxes cracking, so prospects for the new Big Green Egg firebox seem to be good.

    If on the other hand, you cracks are irregular and are not perfectly straight and vertical like the photo, then you probably do have a cracked firebox and you should view our FAQ entry, My firebox cracked. What should I do?
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  59. My grate cracked. What should I do?
    Well, first of all, Big Green Egg has stopped shipping eggs with ceramic grates. They now use a metal grate which is far less prone to suffer damage from high temperatures. You can contact BGE about getting a replacement if you have a damaged ceramic grate. Other options are 7" floor drains from your local hardware store. Also, Lodge Manufacturing, the folks that make Lodge cast iron cookware, makes a cast iron trivet that can be used.

    My favorite replacement grate, however, is a piece of stainless steel expanded metal. You will have to find someone with access to it and with the tools to cut a circle about 8 inches in diameter. However, expanded metal is almost all opening and thus chips and ash can fall through more easily, and you get far more air through the grate than with other types of grates. Stainless steel will stand up to the temperatures and, of course, will last a very long time.
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  60. My Egg won't heat up like it used to.
    There are two basic reasons why your Egg won't get as hot as it used to. Not enough charcoal and not enough air.

    The owner's manual recommends that you use a couple of handfuls of charcoal. Wrong. You should always use plenty of charcoal. Remember: When you are done cooking, you can snuff the fire out, and use any remaining charcoal the next time you cook. So fill up the firebox at least to above the holes in the side of the firebox.

    Regarding airflow, there are a number of things to check. First, make sure the bottom vent and top vent are open enough to allow the temperature you wish to achieve. Second, make sure that the hole in the side of the firebox base is lined up with the bottom vent so air can flow straight into the firebox. Third, make sure that there is no ash or charcoal chips blocking the holes in the firebox and the grate. Fourth, stir your charcoal if you used it before so as to knock all the ash and small pieces of charcoal loose so they can fall into the bottom. Fifth, make sure you don't use charcoal that is all small chips. You need a mixture of sizes that allow air to flow through the charcoal.
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  61. My gasket leaks. What should I do?
    Gaskets eventually wear out. Some people get years out of them. Other people get months. I suppose it has to do with how much heat you allow to get to the gasket. Heat eventually makes the gasket hard and brittle. One way to ruin a gasket pretty quickly to is to have a flashback. What's a flashback? I'm glad you asked. Click here if you haven't read about flashback yet. Multiple flashbacks will certainly bring your gasket to an early demise.

    The simple answer is replace your gasket with a replacement from Big Green Egg. You can order them through dealers or by calling Big Green Egg. Replacement is fairly simple. Remove the old gasket by using a utility knife or razor blade scraper. Scrape very carefully and get as much of the old gasket and adhesive off as possible. Then take a rag or paper towel and use some alcohol to rub the surfaces of the lid and base clean. To apply the new gasket, first cut it in half. There is more than enough to do both the top and the bottom. Cutting it in half will ensure you don't go crazy and somehow get too much on the bottom and not enough on the top. Or vice versa if you do the top first. Peel off a foot or so of the paper tape and begin applying the gasket to the edge. Don't pull it tight or stretch it. Just lay it down on the edge. It is best to line up the inside edge of the gasket with the inside edge of the Egg so that you don't have any gasket protruding into the Egg. If the gasket is a little wider than the edge of your Egg, it is better to let the excess extend over the edge on the outside of the Egg. When you have applied the gasket around the entire edge, you can cut the gasket so that the two ends meet. Repeat for the top. Or for the bottom if you did the top first. Note that Big Green Egg recommends that you wait 24 hours before using your cooker after you replace the gasket.

    So, that was the simple answer. This implies a more complicated answer. The complicated answer is "Rutland" or "Cotronics". As in Rutland or Cotronic gaskets. You can replace the Big Green Egg gasket with a gasket from Rutland that is normally used for woodstoves, or a ceramic tape gasket available from Cotronics. Click here to read about RRP's procedure for installing a Rutland gasket. Rutland gaskets are made from fiberglass and reports are that they will last a long long time. The Cotronics gasket material is made from ceramic and also is reported to last a long time. Another option is to make a gasket out of Permatex Ultra Copper High Temp RTV Silicone Gasket Maker. Click here to read Frank from Houma's method.

    You may wish to read the question "Are gaskets like the Rutland and Cotronic gaskets safe?" down below in the Safety section. There have been a lot of accusations and misinformation flying around regarding these products, and it is always good to check up on information from the manufacturers and other technical sources before you make your decision.
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  62. Food takes too long to cook. What should I do?
  63. Food cooks too fast. What should I do?
  64. My thermometer reads 200 degrees when there's no fire! What should I do?
  65. How do I calibrate my thermometer?
    If food is taking longer to cook than it used to or if your thermometer is showing 200 degrees before you even start the fire, then there is a very good chance that your thermometer is out of calibration. If you think you are cooking at 250 degrees but are actually cooking at 200 degrees due to a mis-calibrated thermometer, food is going to take much longer to cook that you expect.

    The dial to the BGE thermometer will rotate if you hold the stem and then twist the dial. This sometimes accidentally happens if you twist the dial while it is in the lid of the Egg. The stem can get stuck in the hole and it won't rotate if it is stuck. Twisting the dial will then cause your thermometer to get out of calibration. As you can see in this photo, there is a nut on the back of the dial which you can hold with a wrench while you twist the dial. Of course, if you twist the dial, then you have just gotten your thermometer out of calibration. Sorry. So, how to get it back into calibration? Well, if you hold the thermometer in boiling water, it should read the temperature that water boils at your barometric pressure/altitude. (Remember, altitude and barometric pressure are related. Altimeters are just extremely accurate barometers.)

    Barometric Pressure: 
    Elevation: 

    Boiling Point:
    So, how can you find your barometric pressure and calculate the boiling point of water? Simple! Click here to open a new browser window and visit the Weather Channel. Enter your ZIP code to get your local forecast which includes the barometric pressure. Close the Weather Channel window and then simply enter your barometric pressure and approximate elevation into the Whiz-O-Matic Boiling Point Calculator® at left, click on "Calculate" and voila!

    Note that the boiling point of water varies more due to altitude than it does due to air pressure. The difference between sea level and Denver, Colorado, is about 10 degrees. The difference due to changes in the air pressure due to the weather is about 2 degrees. You'd need to be in a hurricane's eye to see more variation than that. Bottom line, is if you are using the calculator, altitude is more important that the current barometric pressure.

    Now that you know the boiling point of water at your location, you can boil some water in a pan and stick the thermometer into the boiling water and read the temperature. If it isn't close to the correct value, use a wrench to hold the nut on the back and twist the dial until the thermometer does read the correct value. Then back into the boiling water to recheck your adjustment. Two things to remember. First, boiling water is very hot. Don't burn your fingers and then blame The Naked Whiz. Second, don't allow the stem of the thermometer to touch the sides or bottom of the pan or you will get hotter readings. One common idea is to take a paper plate and poke the thermometer through the plate. Then you can lay the plate down on the top of the pan with the thermometer stem hanging in the water. Just be careful.
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  66. Why does my thermometer get out of calibration?
    There are a number of reasons things that might get your thermometer out of calibration:

    • Most of the thermometers used for ceramic cookers are adjustable. The dial can be twisted on the stem, as you saw in the question about which shows you how to calibrate the thermometer. Twisting the dial trying to get it in or out of the cooker is all it takes to get your thermometer out of calibration. Don't use the dial as a handle to try to twist the thermometer out of the hole in your cooker. Push from the inside or use the stem to twist the thermometer, if necessary.
    • Over-temping a thermometer can affect its accuracy. Tel-Tru thermometers give the following guidelines for the maximum temperature that you expose their thermometers to:

      Dial Max Temp Over Temp Limit
      0 to 250 100%
      250-550 50%
      550-1000 continuous use up to 800
      intermittent use over 800.

    • Most of stem should be inside the egg to obtain an accurate reading. You may need to have the thermometer not entirely inserted into the dome in order to avoid the thermometer touching the food, but approximately 2 to 2.5 inches of the stem must be inside the dome.
    • Severe shock, dropping, bending of stem or head.
    • Submersing in water or placing in dishwasher.

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  67. Why doesn't my thermometer read zero degrees when the cooker is cold?
    We never really thought we'd have to answer this one, but sure enough, two people have asked this question in the last two weeks, so here goes. Your thermometer should indicate the temperature inside your cooker (in degrees Fahrenheit for most of us). It isn't going to show 0 unless the temperature inside your cooker is 0. Like, below freezing? If it is 80 degrees outside, it is probably going to be 80 degrees inside your cooker, more if your cooker is in the sun. So, it will almost never show 0.
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  68. My pizza stone cracked. What should I do to avoid this in the future?
    While pizza stones are made of ceramic and can take high temperatures, like all ceramic items, they are susceptible to thermal shock. Never place a cold stone into a hot cooker. Place your stone in the cooker as soon as you have the fire established and before you allow the cooker to heat up to pizza-cooking temperatures. This will allow the stone to heat up at a moderate rate and will avoid cracking.

    It is also worth noting that many owners of ceramic charcoal cookers have reported problems with Pampered Chef pizza stones. These stones simply are not up to being used over a raging fire. They were meant to be used in ovens in kitchens by ladies wearing pink aprons. (Ok, that last bit might be a bit of an exaggeration....) Do NOT use Pampered Chef pizza stones in your cooker as it is probably going to crack, and crack quite violently as you can see in this photo. That photo shows exactly how the pieces were positioned after the big bang. The owner did not move them in any way. So, get a real pizza stone. Several of the ceramic charcoal cooker manufacturers sell very good pizza stones. It's worth the money.
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  69. My Polder remote thermometer started reading CRAZY temperatures. Why?
    Remote thermometers like the Polder use an armored cable to connect the probe to the base unit. This cable can only take so much heat. We don't know how much is too much, but we do know putting in the flame will fry it! (Don't ask how we know.) One thing you can to do to prolong the life of your probe is to wrap the cable loosely with aluminum foil. Take a piece about 1.5 inches wide and use it to loosely wrap the cable. (Note that there have been warnings, including a few from us, that wrapping the cable makes the heat worse and that you should merely place a layer of foil below the cable to shield it. We ran a little experiment with two identical thermocouples, one wrapped and one bare. The wrapped thermocouple did get a few degrees hotter, but not enough to be significant.)

    The probe and cable also shouldn't be submerged in water as moisture can get down into the probe and mess it up. We have read of home-brew methods of fixing a wet probe and sealing it, but it is probably just easier to keep the dang thing dry to begin with.
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  70. My Egg froze shut in cold weather. How do I get it open?
    If you leave your Egg out in the rain uncovered and it subsequently gets REAL cold, the gasket can get wet and then freeze, preventing you from opening the lid. Obviously, covering the Egg will prevent this. Also, placing a strip of aluminum foil between the base and the dome will also prevent them from freezing shut.

    Once the Egg is frozen shut, however, you can usually get it open by lighting a Weber starter cube and dropping it in through the top vent or placing into the bottom of the Egg through the bottom vent. Any method you can use to get heat into the Egg will warm the ceramic, thaw the gasket and allow you to open the lid.
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  71. The top and bottom of my cooker are stuck together. How do I get them open?
    Most likely you have melted one or both of the gaskets due to high heat and the two gaskets are now melted together. This can happen when you have a flashback because the intense flames pouring out of the cooker can heat the gasket to the melting point. It can also occur if you have a significant gap between the base and the lid and then you do a high temperature cook. Again, the heat escaping the cooker through the gap can melt the gasket. Finally, this could also happen if you you allow too much of the gasket to overhang the inside edge of the lid and base when you install a gasket. The portion of the gasket that is actually inside the cooker is then exposed to more intense heat than the portion of the gasket which is between the lid and base.

    If you cannot open the cooker with the use of moderate force, you will have to pry the two gaskets apart. You may be able to use a table knife to part the gaskets if they are not seriously melted together. Otherwise, you will need to use something like a utility knife to cut through the gasket. This will most likely ruin the gaskets and you will have to replace them.
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  72. I've noticed a hot spot in my fires. What can I do about it?
    You may notice a hot spot develop in your fires that is at the back of the cooker, and possibly a little to the right of center. This is a natural result of the fact that the lower vent is at the front and a little to the left of center. When air enters the cooker through the bottom vent, it more or less shoots into the bottom of the firebox and crosses to the back and then is directed up the back of the fire box. As you can probably guess this extra flow of air will cause the fire to grow faster and hotter where it comes up the back side of the cooker.

    Some things you can do to deal with this hot spot are:

    • Rotate your grid so as to give all the food equal time over the hot spot.
    • If you are using a plate setter for either indirect cooking or for pizza, place one leg at the back. This will encourage the air to spread to either side of the leg, thus spreading the hot spot into a hot region.
    • Rotate the firebox so that the hole in the base does not line up directly with the lower vent. Be warned, though, that this will restrict airflow and make it difficult to get hotter temperatures.

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  73. There's mold growing in my ceramic cooker. What should I do about it?
    In wetter climates, you may find that mold will grow in your cooker if you don't use it that often. First, how to get rid of it? Light up a hot fire in the cooker and let it just burn all the mold away. Second, how to prevent it? Well, any technique that can be used to prevent moisture from getting into the cooker will help:

    • Keep the cooker covered as much as possible.
    • If it is a real problem, try this: After you are done cooking, let the cooker heat up for about 20 minutes after you remove the food. This will help to drive some of the moisture out of the cooker. Let the cooker cool, then close the vents tight.
    • If you can't keep the cooker covered, use whatever cap or top that comes with the cooker that keeps out moisture. In the case of Big Green Egg cookers, use the ceramic cap to shut the upper opening, not the daisy wheel. The ceramic cap will keep water out of your cooker, the daisy wheel will not.
    • Also, if you can't keep the cooker covered, water can drip down into the cooker through the hole for the thermometer. Depending on how tight your thermometer stem fits in the hole, you may wish to somehow cover this hole. Chewing gum? We don't know, but that's one source of moisture getting into the cooker.

    We have also noted that the place where the mold grows first is where there is grease inside the cooker. Grease appears to be a super food for mold. Cleaning the grates of all grease after cooking will help to reduce the growth of mold. A good hot fire every now and then will reduce the amount of grease on the walls of the cooker. But managing the grease will help you manage the mold.
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  74. There are tiny cracks in the glaze on my cooker. Is this normal?
    Yes, this is normal. If you have a cooker like the Big Green Egg or a Primo which has a glaze on it, this "crazing" does no harm and is no reason to be concerned. If you should have chunks of ceramic popping out or big chips coming off, that would be a different matter. But the fine spiderwork of tiny cracks is normal and can be ignored. You can see the type of cracks on question in the photo at right. Our large Big Green Egg has been like this for most of its life and it hasn't created any problems. Nor has the crazing gotten any worse with time. This is just normal for the ceramic glaze used on some cookers.
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  75. The lid on my cooker won't stay open. What should I do?
    Well, when the rear hatch on our mother's Plymouth mini-van wouldn't stay open, she used a broomstick to prop it open. However, this isn't such a good idea on the Egg, so we have two suggestions. First, if you own an Extra Large Egg, you may have one of the older hinges which had this problem. Call the Big Green Egg headquarters in Atlanta to see about a replacement. However, if you own a Large Egg, you may have installed the hinge upside down. Yes, this is possible and it happens. Rather than show you how to install your hinge here, we suggest you get the assembly instructions and check them carefully to insure you have installed the hinge correctly. If your dealer assembled the Egg for you, then of course, contact your dealer if necesssary. And if all else fails, contact BGE headquarters in Atlanta for help.
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  76. Can I repair a broken ceramic cooker?
    You can make minor repairs to broken ceramic cookers using a product called JB Weld. Here's a link to our webpage where we show step by step how we repaired a broken cooker: How To Repair A Ceramic Cooker
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    General Information about Smoking/Barbecuing

  77. What kind of woods are good for smoking?
    The following woods can be used for smoking:

    Acacia - flavor similar to mesquite but not quite as heavy.
    Alder - Good with fish, pork, poultry, and light-meat game birds.
    Almond - A sweet smoke flavor. Good with all meats.
    Apple - Mild. Good with poultry (turns skin dark brown) and pork.
    Apricot - Good on white or pink meats, including chicken, turkey, pork and fish. Milder and sweeter than hickory.
    Ash - Good with fish and red meats.
    Birch - Flavor similar to maple. Good with pork and poultry.
    Cherry - Mild and fruity. Good with poultry, pork and beef.
    Cottonwood - Subtle flavor. Mix with chunks of other woods (hickory, oak, pecan) for more flavor.
    Crabapple - Similar to apple.
    Grapefruit - Mild. Good with beef, pork, fish and poultry.
    Grapevines - Tart, rich and fruity. Good with poultry, red meats, game and lamb.
    Hickory - Commonly used wood for smoking. Sweet to strong, heavy flavor. Good with pork, ham and beef.
    Lemon - Mild. Good with beef, pork, fish and poultry.
    Lilac - Good with seafood and lamb.
    Maple - Good with pork, poultry, cheese, and small game birds.
    Mesquite - Strong flavor. Good with beef, fish, chicken, and game.
    Mulberry - Like apple.
    Nectarine - Good on white or pink meats, including chicken, turkey, pork and fish. Milder and sweeter than hickory.
    Oak - Heavy smoke flavor. Good with red meat, pork, fish and game.
    Orange - Mild. Good with beef, pork, fish and poultry.
    Peach - Good on white or pink meats, including chicken, turkey, pork and fish. Milder and sweeter than hickory.
    Pear - Like apple. Excellent with chicken and pork.
    Pecan - Similar to hickory. Good with poultry, beef, pork and cheese.
    Plum - Good on white or pink meats, including chicken, turkey, pork and fish. Milder and sweeter than hickory.
    Walnut - ENGLISH and BLACK - Very heavy smoke flavor can be bitter if used alone. Good with red meats and game.

    Other wooods - Bay, Carrotwood, Kiawe, Madrone, Manzanita, Guava, Olive, Ornamental Pear, Ornamental Cherry, Beech, Butternut, Fig, Gum, Chestnut, hackberry, Pimiento, Persimmon, and Willow.

    The following woods are not suitable for smoking:

    Softwoods or evergreen woods (Pine, Fir, Spruce, Redwood, Cedar, Cypress, etc.), Elm, Eucalyptus, Sassafras, Sycamore, Liquid Amber (Sweetgum), Chokecherry, green Cottonwood.

    Other guidelines for smoking woods:

    1. If you have some wood and do not know what it is, do not use it for smoking food.
    2. Never use scraps of treated wood or wood that has had any finish applied. Paints and stains can impart a bitter taste to the meat, give off toxic fumes when burning, and old paint often contains lead.
    3. Never use wood from old pallets. Many pallets are treated with chemicals such as insecticides that can be hazardous to your health and the pallet may have been used to carry chemicals or poison.
    4. Avoid old wood that is covered with mold and fungus that can impart a bad taste to your meat. If you have some good wood that has fungus growth, pre-burn it down to coals before you put it into your smoker.

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  78. Should I soak my chips or chunks of smoking wood in water?
    Now here's a controversial topic! When you read a lot of the cookbooks or articles in papers, they always tell you to soak your smoking wood chips or chunks before placing them on the fire. If you ask on many online forums, everyone chimes in about how the chunks will just give off steam until the water is gone and then they will start to smoke so you are only delaying the smoke production. It turns out that the real answer is "it depends."

    Wood is composed of three primary components: cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin. These three materials burn at temperatures ranging from 390 to 750 degrees. When they burn at low temperatures, they are transformed into various molecules which produce the smoke flavor we all know and love. For example, cellulose and hemicellulose break down into molecules which produce sweet, fruity, flowery and bread-like aromas. And lignin breaks down into volatile molecules which produce the aromas of vanilla and cloves, as well as other spicy, sweet and pungent aromas.

    Production of these desired aromas which translate into the pleasant smokey flavor we seek takes place at low smoldering temperatures between 570 and 750 degrees. However if they burn at higher temperatures, the molecules which produce these wonderful flavors are themselves broken down into smaller molecules which are either flavorless or harsh. Charcoal, being almost pure carbon, burns at about 1800 degrees. Therefore if you are going to place your smoking wood directly on your fire, you should soak the smoking wood to cool the charcoal and reduce the combustion temperature. On the other hand, if your smoking woods are wrapped in foil or in a smoking box, thus protected from the direct heat of the burning charcoal, soaking isn't necessary.

    One curious side note involves mesquite. Most people will recommend against using mesquite as a smoking wood except for use with meats like beef which can take strong flavors. Mesquite is about 64% lignin (hickory is only 16% lignin) and the more lignin in the wood the hotter it burns. And of course as we have just explained, the hotter the combustion the more that the beneficial flavor-producing molecules are broken down in harsh-tasting molecules.
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  79. Are all hickory chunks the same?
    We did a review of eight different brands of hickory smoking chunks to try to answer this question. The answer is a resounding NO! You can read our in-depth report on hickory chunks for more details.
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  80. At what temperatures does meat absorb smoke?
    Well first of all, meat doesn't really absorb smoke. Smoke only really affects the surface of the food. This notion of meat absorbing smoke probabaly originates from confusing smoke flavor with the smoke ring. While the smoke ring penetrates the meat, smoke flavor stays primarily on the surface. Also, the chemical reactions which form the smoke ring do only occur below certain temperatures, however smoke flavor will continue to develop at any temperature as long as there is smoke present in the cooking chamber.
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  81. How can I increase the smoke flavor in a piece of meat?
    Obviously, to a certain extent the amount of smoke flavor which develops is dependant on the amount of smoke to which you subject the meat. However, smoke vapors are deposited on the surface of the meat more efficiently if the surface of the meat is moist. Therefore, increasing the humidity of the air in the cooker can aid in the development of the smoke flavor. This can be done with a drip pan filled with liquid. However, it shouldn't be necessary to do this in a ceramic cooker since the very nature of cooking in a ceramic cooker is to maintain high levels of moisture in the cooker.
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  82. What is a smoke ring?
    This is the pink to red ring of coloration which can penetrate the surface of a piece of meat as deeply as a quarter inch. It is caused by a series of chemical reactions which take place when meat is slowly heated by the burning of organic fuels. Nitrogen dioxide which is formed when these organic fuels (wood, charcoal, even gas!) burn, dissolves on the surface of the meat where it is converted to nitric acid. The nitric acid diffuses into the meat (hence the penetration of the smoke ring's coloration) where it is then converted to nitric oxide. Finally, the nitric oxide reacts with myoglobin (a protein in meat which contributes to it's color) to form a pink molecule that forms the color of the smoke ring.

    Note that the smoke ring only forms while the meat is below a certain maximum temperature, in the vicinity of 140 degrees. Above this temperature, the myglobin breaks down and the smoke ring can no longer develop. Also, the smoke ring takes time to develop. If the meat is rapidly heated to this temperature, the reaction doesn't have a chance to occur. But if the meat is allowed to rise slowly to this temperature over the span of an hour or two, then a smoke ring can develop.
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  83. What is the temperature plateau?
    Most people when they roast a piece of meat in their oven, expect the internal temperature of the meat to slowly, but steadily, climb from the time they put the meat into the oven until the meat is ready. However, if you slow cook a piece of meat like a pork butt or a beef brisket which has lots of connective tissue in it, you will observe that the internal temperature of the meat steadily rises for a while, but then it stops. It will stay at some temperature, perhaps even fall a few degrees, for a very long time and then resume climbing. What you are witnessing is the temperature plateau which occurs when the meat gets to the internal temperature at which all that connective tissue starts to break down.

    When you slow cook a butt or a brisket, the collagen in the meat will be converted by the heat into gelatin. If you took high school chemistry, this is sort of like fractional distillation. At first all the heat going into the meat is raising the temperature of the meat. However, when you reach somewhere in the vicinity of 150-170 degrees, the connective tissue in the meat (collagen) begins to convert to gelatin. It takes a lot of energy to do this, so now all the heat going into the meat is fueling this converion and no heat is available for raising the temperature of the meat. In fact, the temperature of the meat can actually go down a few degrees. However, once the conversion is mostly complete, then the heat that is going into the meat is once again available for raising the temperature of the meat and the temperature once again begins to rise.

    Typically, if you cook an 8-pound pork butt low and slow, it might take anywhere from 15-20 hours for the internal temperature of the meat to reach 195 degrees, the temperature when it will be moist, tender and pullable. It might take 3 hours for the meat to reach the plateau temperature and another 3 hours to rise from the plateau temperature to the finished temperature. For the remaining 9-14 hours, the meat's temperature will hover around the plateau temperature. This is when you need to be patient. If the heat of the cooker is too high and you try to force the meat through the plateau, you can do it, but the conversion of collagen to gelatin will be incomplete. This is a bad thing because this conversion from collagen to gelatin is what turns the tough dry meat into moist tender meat. The gelatin is what makes it moist!
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  84. Am I Only Supposed To Use Sauce In The Last 10 Minutes?
    No, this is a misconception that comes from confusing smoking or barbecuing with grilling. Grilling is done at high temperatures and sauce should only be applied right before the meat is done so as to prevent any sugar in the sauce from burning. However, when you are barbecuing, you are cooking at temperatures below 300 degrees. Sugar caramelization occurs between 320 degrees (golden stage)and 350 degrees (dark brown stage), so sugar isn't even going to start to burn until it gets above 350 degrees. Sauce when you like when barbecuing since the temperature will never get high enough to burn the sugar.
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    Other Information About Cooking Big Pieces Of Meat

  85. My butt/brisket got done too soon! What do I do to hold the meat until dinner?
    No problem! Take your finished butt or brisket from the cooker and wrap it in two or more layers of aluminum foil. Then wrap the foil-wrapped meat in beach towels or blankets. Place this is a cooler and the meat will hold for several hours.
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  86. How long can you hold meat in a cooler?
    We have kept pork butts in a cooler like this for four hours and the butts were still too hot to pull with bare hands. Of course, we realize that this doesn't mean much since the human threshhold for pain from heat is about 115 degrees, well inside the danger zone. So, we conducted a more rigorous test and produced a web page on the topic. Click Here to read our web page on holding meat in a cooler.
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  87. How much meat do I need for a large crowd?
    Here is how you can figure how much brisket or pulled pork you need to prepare to serve a large crowd. There are several things to consider:

    • For pulled pork or brisket, a typical sandwich (or serving) is 4 oz of cooked meat.
    • For adult males, you might want to plan on 2 servings per person.
    • For women and children, plan on one serving per person.
    • The average butt loses about 40% of its weight while cooking. Therefore a pound (16 ounces) of uncooked meat will yield 9.6 ounces of cooked meat. 9.6 ounces is 2.4 servings, so every pound of uncooked meat that you start with will yield 2.4 servings.

    So, first figure out out many servings you need (2 servings per hungry eater, 1 serving per ordinary eater). Then divide the number of servings by 2.4 servings per pound of uncooked meat and you have the total number of pounds of uncooked meat you need. Here, then, is an example:

    10 men and 10 women would require about 30 servings. (2 x 10 men = 20 servings, 1 x 10 women = 10 servings.) Divide 30 servings by 2.4 servings per pound of uncooked meat and you get 12.5 pounds of uncooked meat.
    Or from a real-life example:
    We were asked to cook pulled pork for a women's shelter. There were 37 women, but these were 37 hungry women (many took a second sandwich with them after dinner), so we figured 60 servings. 60 divided by 2.4 is 25 pounds of raw meat, which is just about what it took.

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  88. Do two butts take twice as long to cook as one butt?
    Typically, the answer to this question is "no." If the two butts (or any pieces of meat, for that matter) are not touching each other, then you have two separate pieces of meat that should cook in about the same amount of time that it would take to cook either one by itself. If you stack them or have them pressed together, now you are beginning to create a single larger piece of meat which will take longer to cook than each piece by itself.
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    Safety Questions

  89. What Safety Issues Should I Be Aware Of?
    There are a number of safety issues you should probably be aware of if you are going to cook on a ceramic cooker:

    • Flashback (see next question)
    • Back Draft (see below)
    • The ceramic does get hot!! Various advertising materials talk about ceramic cookers not getting as hot as metal cookers, but don't kid yourself. Eventually, the ceramic does get hot and it can burn. Treat a hot ceramic cooker with the same respect that you would a hot metal cooker. If you would like to know how hot, we heated up a large Big Green Egg to 400 degrees for 2.5 hours and then measured the temperature at the top of the dome. 245 degrees. This is scorching! The dome near the handle was 160 degrees. The human treshhold for pain from heat is about 115 degrees. Ceramic cookers do get hot!
    • Sparks may fly out the bottom vent. Some lump charcoals will spit and spark, notably mesquite and some types of charcoal from South America. Sparks and small pieces of burning charcoal can pop out the bottom vent. Make sure you have some sort of plan to deal with this, such as a fireproof pad under the cooker or having the cooker sitting on concrete, etc.
    • Not properly fixing the dome in the open position with the older scisssors hinges. Make sure you lock the dome open with the older scissors hinge. Failure to do this can result in the dome falling on your hand.
    • Not releasing the lock on the auto-lock hinge when you close the dome. It is easy when you first get your Big Green Egg to forget that you have to release the lock in order to lower the lid. More often, a guest at a cookout will try to close the lid, not knowing about the lock. If you force the lid closed on an auto-lock hinge, the dome will pop out of the hinge. It may be hot. It is definitely heavy. And it will break if it falls onto concrete.
    • Steam/hot air exiting the cooker when you open the lid. Ceramic cookers can be like ovens and retain steam. If you open a hot cooker, be aware that hot steam may exit the cooker and momentarily expose you to high temperatures.
    • Flying sparks when using a MAPP torch to light the charcoal. Sparks will usually fly if you use a MAPP torch to light charcoal. Wear long gloves when lighting lump with a MAPP torch.
    • Flames shooting out the top vent. If you use fresh lump which is full of volatile organic compounds (see the next question about flashback for more details) and you heat the cooker up to 800 degrees to cook a steak, the VOC's will be driven off the charcoal and will ignite. You will see these burning VOC's as wispy blue flames dancing over the lump. Well, with the vents wide open, when the fire gets really going, those dancing blue flames can leap out of the top vent. Needless to say, be very careful if you decide to look down the vent into the fire.
    • Insufficient heat shielding and/or air space below the cooker, resulting in setting a wood deck or table on fire. This is a hard one to reconcile all the different stories of problems we have seen. The best advice is to use whatever feet or supports that you got with your cooker and place the cooker and the feet on top of something like a cement block or a sheet of slate. Definitely do not place the cooker directly on anything combustible.

      If you have any doubts about how much heat can occur below the cooker, we offer the following photos:

        

      This sheet of slate was the second sheet that we used in our table. The first one cracked into 3 pieces. This one cracked in two. After about 45 minutes of cooking at 500 degrees or so, we shut everything down and went inside to eat. About 30 minutes after we shut things down, we heard a loud pop. We thought one of our eggs had exploded. Actually, this sheet of slate had broken in two. And look at the size of the gap left. The stone didn't just crack. It broke apart violently and the two pieces were forced apart as you can see, even with 150 pounds of cooker resting on them.


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  90. What Is Flashback?
    Flashback is probably the single most important safety issue that you should acquaint yourself with. We have an entire page devoted to the topic. Click here to visit our page on flashback.
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  91. What Is Back Draft?
    Back draft is another phenomemon which can occur on a ceramic cooker that could pose a safety hazard if you aren't aware of it. If you have a relatively hot fire going (and we don't necessarily mean that the dome thermometer is registering a high temperature) and if you have relatively fresh charcoal in the cooker, the cooker will be filled with volatile organic compounds that are being driven off the charcoal. Given adequte airflow, these VOC's will be burning in the cooker with a light blue flame. If you then close the top vent on the cooker, the air in the cooker can no longer exit the cooker through the top. As the air heats up more and more, it expands and the only place it has to go is out the bottom vent. Thus you may see puffs of ash coming out of the bottom vent. If the fire itself is hot enough and there are enough VOC's present, burning VOC's will exit through the bottom vent and you will see a light blue flame licking up the outside of your cooker. You can immediately stop the flame by either closing the bottom vent or by opening the top vent, thus allowing the air in the cooker to resume exiting through the top.

    To avoid back draft to begin with, avoid closing the top vent when you have an established hot fire and relatively new lump charcoal in the cooker. Close the bottom vent first if you need to shut things down.
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  92. My Egg is in a wood table. What should I place beneath it to protect the wood from heat?
    This is another important safety question that you should probably look into. One owner of a Big Green Egg cooker has done some research on what you should place under an Egg if it is sitting on a wooden shelf in a table or on a wooden deck. While this information is specific to a Big Green Egg cooker, we feel owners of all ceramic cookers should take a look and think about what they are using. Click Here to read this report.
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  93. Are gaskets like the Rutland, Cotronics or Nomex gaskets safe?
    We have done quite a bit of research into the safety of using Rutland, Cotronics and Nomex gaskets on ceramic charcoal cookers and have documented our findings in these articles:

    The short answer is that based upon our research, there is no reason to suspect that the Rutland, Cotronics or Nomex gaskets are not safe.

    As of this writing, we are still working on the general overview article comparing all three gaskets side by side. We'll document our findings when we have them in this article.

    Of course, you should read any information available about the material you are going to use and make an informed decision regarding the safety of using that material.
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