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Old 04-10-2006, 08:10 PM   #1
MilitantSquatter
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Default A friend's issue w/ BGE heat & burn rate

A friend on mine in NJ bought a BGE last year primarily for grilling along with the occasional slow cook. He's had difficulty controlling temps in various ways to date and is frustrated. He sent the following e-mail to BGE for help on yesterday's cook problem. His primary concern from yesterday is that the entire charcoal load burned off in less than a few hours and the impression was that he should be able to hold heat for a very long time.

BGE responded back today with a one line e-mail to him as follows :

"Fill the charocoal up to the top of the firebox. That should take care of your issue".

Below is the letter that my friend sent that resulted in a one line response.

As I'm not a BGE owner I did not know what to tell him other than to add more charcoal,use a better charcoal etc. but his thing is that on a longer cook, the BGE should be able to retain lower temps for more than 2 hours rather than having to remove the meat and grate temporarily to add more fuel. I don't think he's expecting to get 12+ hrs straight, but I guess expects more than 2 due to the ceramic insulation.


I received my BGE last Fall, and have enjoyed using it. But I continue to have a problem with the rate of burn of the charcoal, even at lower cooking temps.

Yesterday is a good example:

I planned to cook a brisket. I cleaned out the ash under the grate. I then put charcoal in, ABOVE the air holes (the direction say to fill only TO the air holes, for hours and hours of cooking; but I did not want to run out AGAIN).I also added a sprinkling of hickory wood chips, mixed in to the charocal. I then lit the charcoal with the starter bricks from BGE (used 2 small squares). Closed the lid; bottom vent all the way open, while top vent open only part way. When temp reached 650 degrees (about 10 minutes), opened lid, and put on brisket. I left lid open, to develop a "bark" or crust on the meat, for 10 minutes; I then put in my deflector, and closed the lid, intending to cook the brisket for another 3 - 4 hours at 275 degrees.. I set the slide vent door to only about 1 inch open, and the top metal vent with holes so that only the holes were open.The temp dropped to about 300 degrees; I closed the slide vent door further, to drop the temp a bit, after about an hour (to about 3/4 inch open). I ran out of charcoal less than 2 hours later. Used BGE charcoal.

Was I supposed to put in more charcoal, after initial searing? What am I doing wrong? I thought I could get +6 hours out of one "charge" of fuel, due to the efficiency of the EGG.

Any assistance you could provide would be appreciated
.


So, based on this e-mail and not knowing if my friend is doing something incorrectly having not used a BGE, is the BGE response correct or can anyone make a better suggestion on how to correct the problem ?
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Old 04-10-2006, 08:29 PM   #2
rookiedad
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wow. one of the selling points of the big green egg is that it is supposed to pay for itself in charcoal savings due to its efficiency. i have never used the bge but i would say that he burned it out with the bottom vent all the way open and the top partially shut and running it up to 650*to sear. a bark forms over time at low temps, so if i was him i would start with the top wide open and the bottom vents mostly closed and use a version of the Minion method so you go through the charcoal slowly and creep up to the temp you want to keep it at and then regulate from there. this is what i do with the wsm anyway. hope this helps.
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Old 04-10-2006, 11:19 PM   #3
thirdeye
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MilitantSquatter,

The first thing your buddy needs to do is toss out the cookbook that comes with the Egg. I'm sorry, but that is a fact. The second thing he needs to do is cook some country ribs or some spares until he gets the hang of fire and temperature control. The first long cook should be a butt because they are so easy and forgiving. Then move on to a brisket.

BGE lump is made by Royal Oak, so the quality of the lump is no issue. There are also a number of other lump charcoal brands that are good as well. So the problem is not in the fuel selection.

The amount of lump he used is way less than is required for a brisket cook. I fill my lump almost to the top of the fire ring (the band above the fire box). This will burn for 15 or 20 hours depending on the type of lump used.

Mixing some smaller sticks into the lump is good, so as the lump burns the wood is consumed and gives a gentle smoke.

For a lo-n-slo cook, I too use two starter cubes high in the lump. You only want a fire the size of a grapefruit to start. I have the bottom vent fully open and the top daisy wheel off. After a few minutes close the lid and allow the temp to rise to around 200°. Put in the plate setter (legs up), drip pan and grate. Now, close the lid, close the bottom vent to about 1/2" and put the daisy wheel on top with the big slider open about halfway. Wait for the temperature to climb to 275° and close the lower vent to about 1/4" and close the big slider and crack the fine adjustment vents. Let the fire stabilize and let the smoke settle down until it is just a whif of blue/grey. This will take about 45 minutes or an hour.

Now open the bottom and top vents. Carefully open the egg. A rush of oxygen can cause a flashback, so be careful. Once the lid is open, return the bottom vent to the original position and put the brisket on the grate, fat side down and close the lid. (there is no need to sear a brisket) If the top vent setting has changed, return it to the original setting. For the next hour monitor the temperature, making minor adjustments as needed. It will take 15 or 20 minutes for any adjustments to be noticed. In the early hours of the cook, a 250° dome temperature will be about 220° at the grate. Later they will be closer. (I like to measure the temperature at the grate and not rely on the dome thermometer). Adjust the temperature to your preference.

Now the egg will cruise along with almost no adjustments for 10 to 15 hours. There is no need to add additional lump or wood. The brisket will develop a bark just like it would in any other cooker. After 8 or 9 hours it is possible for some of the ash to clog the holes in the firebox grate. Use a coathanger with a 3" "L" bend on one end and sneak it in the lower vent and up through several of the firebox grate holes. Wiggle the rod to dis-lodge some of the ash.

Tell him to feel free to ask any more questions or private message me. He will get the hang of this cooker in no time.
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Old 04-11-2006, 10:25 AM   #4
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I agree with all above, but i find that for a low and slow cook using the minion method it is much easier to add lit charcoal from a chimney starter. I use Wicked Good Competition Blend (may not be available anymore).

As for Flashback, I have only experienced it while trying to bring a hot fire back down, or small ones when I have a full load going full burn for steaks and I open up the lid. Even both vents wide open can can starve a big load of lump of oxygen.

I think nakedwhiz.com has some good info that might help he can also look at the info at primogrill.com
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Old 04-11-2006, 08:30 PM   #5
MilitantSquatter
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Thanks guys... I have passed along the info to my friend. I am sure the feedback and especially Thirdeye's detailed response will be helpful.

I maybe back with a follow up for him if he has any questions on what I passed along.

I've told him about our little home here but he's a very busy guy. He's not knew to BBQ... I got a practically brand new Pitts & Spitts from him as his work schedule did not allow for him to cook. He ended up picking up the BGE based on my recommendation for versatility of being able to grill as well. Let's just say he's a classic Type A personality kind of guy, that likes things specific, correct and easy to adjust to. The BGE appears to have really thrown him for a loop as he does not have much time to tinker and experiment like us brethren do.

Thanks again.
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Old 04-11-2006, 08:34 PM   #6
Rockaway BeachBQ
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then his answer is http://www.thebbqguru.com/

the set it and forget way to bbq.
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Spicewine Custom Medium Large (Thank You Sawdustguy)
Primo Oval (and BBQ Guru for when I need a nap)
ECBrinkmann Vertical Smoker w/mod charcoal pan and thermometer (used mainly for storage)
Meco Aussie Walk-About (AKA the princess grill)
R.I.P.
Klose 20x30 Smoker (sold)
Thermos Square Grill (abandoned at Giants stadium)
Kenmore/Charbroil Gasser got dragged to the curb
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