Big Green Egg - Pt. 8 - Eggcessories-Genral
08/28/12 -09:47 Filed in: Big Green Egg | Accessories
Part two of this blog on Eggcessories (accessories) for the BGE will discuss the general use Eggcessories I picked up in my first few weeks of ownership. I wanted to write about my initial impressions while they are fresh in my mind. If my initial impressions prove to be wrong or change over time, I will certainly write an update. For this entry I will discuss Eggcessories for the grill itself that I feel are essential for most people and some others that are nice to have. Part 3 of this Eggcessories entry will cover Eggcessories for specific cooking related tasks., such as the Platesetter, the Cast Iron Grill Grate, the Cast Iron Dutch Oven.
THE NEST FOR THE LARGE BGE:
The Nest is essentially a rolling cart for your BGE. They come in sizes to suit all of the BGE models. At the time of this writing I paid $140 for it. The Nest has locking casters that make it easy to move the Egg or keep it from moving as you choose. The materials for the Nest are predominantly porcelain-coated steel with stainless steel nuts and bolts, all of which should hold up well over time. The nest for the Large BGE uses double legs for greater strength and the base is well cross-braced. There are 4 legs that extend up about 6” and firmly grip the sides of the lower half of the Egg. It has rubber tips on the end of the grips that keep the sides of the Egg from getting scratched. I had to laugh when I saw a YouTube video made by a dealer for the Grill Dome, a rival ceramic cooker, where they were “worried” that the Egg might tip out of the Nest because it didn’t have long legs & a 360 degree band gripping the base of the Egg. The Grill Dome had vertical legs that extended higher and had a horizontal band that went around the entire bottom half of the Grill Dome. While the Grill Dome may (or may not) legitimately have some areas where it has advantages over the Egg, this certainly isn’t one of them. Plus their rolling base was actually less attractive and seemed rather spindly looking. Believe me, you had to really push down to get the bottom half of the Egg to seat itself into the Nest. It is not going anywhere. While there may be some danger of the whole Egg tipping over, I can’t see how there is any danger of the Egg tipping out of the Nest. The wheel base of the Nest is a little smaller than the diameter of the Egg, so I am careful when I move it around. I push the Egg by grabbing it just BELOW the lid seam. I’ve owned my Egg for just under a month now and have moved it once in that entire time. For people who plan to move their Egg around a lot, there is an item called a Nest Handler that makes it easier to move around.
I feel some sort of base is essential for the Egg. But besides the Nests, BGE also makes various flavors of long and short tables. These various flavors of table are very nice looking but certainly aren’t cheap. They also make available free plans for some of these same tables, for those who are handy with tools. I think this is a very reasonable menu of choices.
I think some side shelves are an essential item for any grill. Many grills come with side shelves as part of the base package. The Egg often gets built into tables or counters, so not every Egg user needs or wants shelves. Having the shelves be a la carte, gives you total flexibility. The Egg has two flavors of shelves that fold up for use and fold down for storage. The ones called Egg Mates use attractive wooden slats and the ones I purchased are called Egg Shelves and use a composite plastic material. These are what I ordered for my Egg and they cost around $120.00. I thought the plastic material would hold up longer in an outside environment and be easier to clean. Also my CG has wooden slat shelves and occasionally items fall through or get stuck in the cracks between the slats, and a single monolithic surface is easier to keep clean. In the spring, I was thinking I might get the CG Kamado Kooker, which was a lower cost insulated metal Kamado grill. One of the things I was worried about was the side tables for the CG Kamado. They were very flimsy in and of themselves and the latching mechanism looked questionable and not capable of carrying a lot of weight. My Egg Shelves were back ordered for over a month and were quite easy to install. A bracket gets attached to the lower metal hinge band and fortunately Rob, my installer, installed the 4 bolts ahead of time so I didn’t have to remove the hinge band when the shelves arrive. The bottom of the shelves each receive a pair of metal brackets secured by Phillips head screws. The shelves then get attached to the bracket on the lower hinge band via 4 shoulder bolts. One pair of shoulder bolts serves as a hinge and the other pair serve as stops to secure the shelves in the unfolded position. The shelves are quite secure and I would not be afraid to put something on the heavy side on then. The shelves themselves are big enough to hold a one half s/s sheet pan, which is good because they are what I bring food out to the grill on.
I know many people who leave their Eggs uncovered year round and have done so for years with no apparent ill effects. After all it is a ceramic grill. But for me a cover is an essential, particularly since I had to take down my failed 10‘x10’ EZ-Up a few weeks ago. If it was under the Ez-Up I could probably leave it uncovered and sleep nights. While the Egg’s main body is ceramic, the fittings and hardware are porcelain enameled steel. There are 3 types of BGE covers. The first, which is what I own, is called the Premium Nest Cover and costs around $86.00. It is intended to cover an Egg in a nest with or without the side shelves. It comes in standard “egg” green and black. The second type of cover is called the Premium Table Cover and covers both the BGE and the Long Table. The cover comes in “egg” green only and extends down to the ground, covering the sides of the table. The last cover is called the Premium Dome Cover and covers the top dome of an Egg set into a table. It does not cover the table just the top dome of the Egg above the table. This cover comes in “egg” green and black.
The Premium Nest Cover is made of a waterproof rubber like fabric. It is the thickest material for any grill cover I’ve ever owned and it should last a long, long time. The top of the cover above the chimney of the Egg has a rubber like handle to help remove the Egg and inside the cover this area above the chimney area is reinforced. At the base of the cover there is a drawstring with a slide lock to help tighten and secure the cover The back of the cover just above the lid hinges is vented. The vent has a hooded fabric cover to keep the rain out. This is definitely the highest quality grill cover I’ve ever seen. The Big Green Egg logo isn’t painted or silk screened on, it is an embroidered label. At $86.00 this is the most expensive grill cover I’ve ever owned, but as I said it is also the highest quality. I fully expect it to last as long as the BGE. I would rather buy one high quality cover than two or three cheaper models.
EGG ASH TOOL-LARGE:
This tool falls into the “Nice to Have” category although for me it is bordering on Essential. The Ash Tool sells for $12.95 and I didn’t realize at first, but it is a multi-purpose tool. Its main function is to reach into the ash drop area and scoop out the ash and pull it through the fully open draft door. It is the perfect length and size for this task. You could use something else to do this, but you aren’t going to find anything that works better. The second thing the Ash Tool is used for is to stir the remaining charcoal in the firebox and separate the ash from the remaining lump and send the ash down into the ash drop. The shaft of the ash tool has a section below the handle that looks like a coiled spring. I suspect this serves as a heat sink to help keep the handle area cool. The last function of the Ash-Tool is it doubles as a grill grate lifter. I didn’t realize this function until I got it home. I ordered a Grid Lifter which is supposedly best suited for a heavy grate or or a grate with food on it. My grid lifter is back ordered and I was happy to find the Ash Tool doubles as a grid lifter. For me this versatility is what puts this near the Essential category for me. Plus along with the Egg Ash Pan it makes quick work of cleaning out the ash drop area.
EGG ASH PAN:
This $19.95 tool has one function and one function only. It is intended to collect and hold the ash you pull out of the ash drop area of the firebox with the Ash Tool. It looks like a small version of a typical plastic dust pan with two subtle differences. The front lip of the ash pan is curved to exactly match the radius of the Egg at the level of the base of the draft door. This curved front lip on the Ash Pan is also turned down around a 1/16” of an inch. This lip fits into the slot used by the lower side of the sliding lower draft door. With the lip set into the draft door slot the pan is perfectly aligned with the base of the draft door. When you pull the ash out it goes right into this pan will no spillage because the AshPan and Egg are in perfect alignment. With the Ash Pan sitting in the draft door slot, it is very easy to hold the Ash Pan handle and securely support the Ash Pan with one hand. The metal ash pan is painted black with a fine pebble finish. I am guessing the pebble finish is intended to help keep the ash from sticking to the pan. So far it has been very easy to keep clean. Now you could use a plastic ash pan or a foil pan to collect the ashes and save a little money. But this pan is made for the Egg and is easy and safe to use. Particularly if you accidentally had some hot ash go into this unit. The Egg Ash Pan is made of a medium gauge metal which should take the occasional hot coals whereas aluminum or plastic would melt. Also where it locks into the Egg while you are using it, the Egg Ash Pan is going to help prevent spillage. My backyard always has some pine needles on the ground year round and they can be highly flammable, so there is something to be said for Peace of Mind. So for $20.00 I got a tool that makes this job, quick, easy & safe. So Essential? Not necessarily, but certainly Nice to Have.
My grid lifter was on back order for 5 weeks and now that I have it I will add this entry and review to this blog entry because this was an Eggcessory I originally ordered with my Egg. The main reason I ordered the Grid Lifter is to handle the heavier weight of the cast iron grid. I figured any direct grilling I do will be with the cast iron grill grate & I would get a lot of use out of it. BGE sells an Eggcessory called a Grill Gripper that specifically says it is for use with the stainless steel and porcelain enameled grates and NOT the cast iron grill grate. So it was the Grid Lifter or nothing where I was getting the cast iron grate. At the time, I did not know the Ash Tool had a second function of a grid lifter. I have used it with the cast iron grate, but there have been several issues. The first is the cast iron great is pushing the envelope in terms of what the ash tool can handle. You need to grab the grill grate in the very middle or the grate will tip when you lift it off the fire ring and the ash tool may slide down from the middle of the grate to the outside. The second problem is that I’ve sometimes had difficulty getting the Ash Tool to release the grill. The width of the bars on the c/i grill grate is narrower than the s/s grill grate. When you try to twist it back out of the grate you aren’t able to angle it far enough for the flat leg to slip back out of the grill grate, the narrower bars trap the ash tool so you can only angle it part way. Lastly the Grid Lifter is said to be able to lift the grid AND food off the grill. I wouldn’t want to try this with the Ash Tool because the grate does hang at an angle. So the Ash Tool was a good temporary fix while I waited for the Grid Lifter. Unlike the Ash Tool where the grate is lifted from 1 point and is a balancing act, the Grid Lifter clamps the grill grate, which is why it could grab a grill grate full of food. The Grid Lifter has two handles at the top, an upper one made of wood and a lower one made of metal. The bottom of the Grid Lifter has a square s/s ring that goes on the top side of the grill grate. Below this is a s/s bar running in one direction under the middle of the square ring. To use the Grid lifter you go to the middle slot in the middle of the grill grate, just below the single divider bar running perpendicular to the other bars and place the grid lifter on the grate at that position.The clamps at the bottom and the handles are connected via a s/s shaft surrounded by a spring. Holding the grid lifter down on the grate you squeeze the upper and lower handles together. This lowers the s/s bar that is currently resting between two adjacent grill grate bars. The stainless steel bar is now low enough to pass under that center divider bar running across the grill grate. You now can move the entire grid lifter towards that divider bar so that it is now gripping the grate in the middle with the square top ring split positioned so it is grabbing equal amounts of the grill grate above and below the divider bar. At this point the lower s/s bar of the Grid Lifter is underneath the center divider bar of the grill grate. Rotating the Grid Lifter 90 degrees now places the lower bar under multiple bars of the grate and makes for an even more secure grip on the grill grate. Releasing the two handles brings the spring loaded lower bar up so it securely clamps the grates from below. Believe me it is easier to do than describe and hopefully the pictures will make it clear. Once the grid is securely clamped, you raise it up using the upper wooden handle. The grate is held very securely and I could see lifting the grate when there is small types of food on it like wings or dogs. I doubt a roast could be lifted together with the grate. The grid lifter might be up to it, but you would have trouble lifting that much weight while keeping it balanced. Remember you are lifting a wide heavy object from a central point around a foot (30 cm) above. It is acting like a fulcrum and would put a lot of strain on your wrist. There is really only enough room on the handle to lift the Grid Lifter with one hand. So in this case it is the human and not the tool that is the limiting factor. You should know the limits of what you can safely pick up. You may not want to attempt to lift the grate and a lot of food. The Grid Lifter seems strong enough to handle it, but your wrist may not be up to it.
DUAL HANDLE GRILL BRUSH WITH SCRAPER:
I would classify this $9.95 brush as Nice to Have, but not Essential. I wanted to have a brush for the Egg that was appropriate for the s/s and the c/i grill grate of the Egg. Like the other Eggcessories it is extremely well built and uses quality materials. It has a handle in the back and a knob onto of the brush head that allows you to grip the head with a second hand for more leverage. The head has a replaceable s/s steel brush which I find interesting because the fact it is made of s/s means it will probably last a long time before it needs to be replaced. In addition to the s/s bristles, the brush head has a metal scraper for getting off food that is really stuck on the grates. The brush handle is made of a hard black plastic which should also hold up well over time. The reason I called this brush as Nice to Have and not Essential is because there are so many brushes out there to choose from. You may already have a grill brush you like and could use. I wanted to get a brush for my new Egg and I figured one made by BGE for the BGE was a safe bet.
PARAFIN FIRE STARTERS:
I would called these Essential for me, but not necessarily everyone. These are not Big Green Egg brand Firestarters, but they are what my BGE dealer sold. These are approximately 1 5/8” x 1 5/8” x 1/2” (4 x 4 x 1.25 cm) squares which you nestle and bury within your lump charcoal. You use 1 or more depending on the area and temperature of fire you are shooting for. There are many other ways people light fire on their Eggs. Some folks use charcoal chimneys, BGE sells an electric lighter that gets buried in the coals, there are other high temperature electric lighters that are similar to the BGE model and others blow very hot air on the lump. Also some folks use torches intended for killing weeds with flames. For me the paraffin starters are the way to go, your mileage may vary. So why did I choose paraffin starters? Mainly it is all about ease of use and safety. First of all these paraffin starters are all buried in the lump, you light them and walk away for about 9 minutes. The box says 8-12 minutes, but every square in this box has been 9 minutes. I’m guessing the time may vary between boxes, but every square in my first box has been consistent. The square are lit deep in the bowels of the Egg where the wind doesn’t affect my ability to light them like it does a charcoal chimney. Speaking of a charcoal chimney, these squares are easier to light, take less time to do their thing and you aren’t taking a bunch of extremely hot coals and dump them onto another pile of coals. You aren’t dealing with an electrical device which may not be safe for you to use in the rain. The electrical and weed burner solutions require you to stand there and hold them while you light the coals. With the paraffin squares, I light them and walk away for 9 minutes and when I walk back the grill is ready to started bringing up to my cooking temperature. Where I didn’t have to stay out at the grill, I can take care of some other last minute tasks, like seasoning the food, buttering the rolls etc.
So there is my wrap up of Eggcessories intended for general use which I currently own. In general these Eggcessories are well thought out, well built and should last a long time. Part 3 of this Eggcessoried blog series will talk about Eggcessories intended for specific cooking uses.