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The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke
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Adjustable Rig-Seeing Double

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This blog entry will be about the addition of my second Adjustable Rig to my Eggcessories. It is intended to help support my recently purchased third Egg dedicated to baking tasks. It was around this time last year that I had bought my first Adjustable Rig and I was still unsure how much I would actually use it. I could see great potential in it, but I have no idea how essential it would become to my day-to-day grilling. At first I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. By spring if I found if I had 2 Eggs fired up, one had the Adjustable Rig on it. By the time I got my third baking Egg, I knew I would probably need a second Adjustable Rig.

BIG PICTURE:
I am not going to cover the Adjustable Rig (or AR as I will call it going forward) in terms of what it is and everything it does. I have already written several blog entries covering this territory. The links to those blogs will be posted below. If you are unfamiliar with what the AR is or does, you might want to read those blog entries first, and then revisit this one. My intention with this entry is to explain how the AR has become essential and why I felt like the baking Egg required it's own AR. I should also mention that the Ceramic Grill Store, makers of the AR, offer AR’s and other accessories for other brands of kamado grills. I will provide a link to their website at the end of this blog.

HIDDEN FEATURES:
There were several "Hidden features" the AR had which have turned it into essential equipment for me. They are all features I really don't see mentioned when people start talking or writing about the AR. These features actually caused me to use the AR more for the “hidden features”, than for the features I’d originally purchased it for


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Hidden Feature 1 - Extra Shelf for Thermometer: The AR actually helped me solve a temperature issue I was having. Like many other Eggers, I was using the dome thermometer instead of a thermometer at my grate level. I suspected there was a large temperature difference between my grate level and the dome thermometer. One day instead of using my platesetter legs up with the BGE stainless steel grill grid, I used an alternate set up on the AR. The shelf spacing on the AR is referred to as levels. The numbers for these levels is the shelf height above the ceramic fire ring as measured in inches. On a stock setup of the BGE your grill grid goes on top of the fire ring which equals Level 0. The notches for the shelves are at Level: 1.5, 3, 4.5 and 6 (38, 76, 114 and 152 mm) meaning each shelf is is 1 1/2” (38 mm) apart. For my test I was able to put the stone for the AR at level I.5. This got me the indirect cooking I was looking for. Then I was able to use two shelves, the lower shelf held the grate I attached the probe for my remote read thermometer and the upper shelf 1 1/2” (38 mm) away was for the food. This gave me an independent shelf to place the probe anywhere I with. The clip for the grate temperature probe puts it 1” (25 mm) above the grate, 1/2” (13 mm) below the food level. So for all intents and purposes it is at the grate level of my food. What I learned doing this experiment is depending on the weather, there can be a huge variation in temperature between a grill grid below the felt line (gasket) of the egg and the dome thermometer. Unless I am doing something small where I can fit the probe on the same grid as the food, I usually do my indirect cooks with the AR to gain the ability to gain an extra shelf for measuring grid temps.


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Hidden Feature 2 - Single-Step Removal and Replacement: Cooking with the Egg (or another kamado style grill) is different than cooking on most other grills. Whenever you can, you want to keep the lid down and the food covered. I have learned that keeping the lid up a long time can cause your temperatures to rise drastically. On the Egg getting temperatures to rise quickly is rather easy, but it is very hard to get them back down quickly. You're probably thinking that often the air is cold that you're letting in, so why do the temperatures rise? Actually the temperatures do initially fall, but this cold air you letting in isn't just cold air it is also combustion air and lots of it. The Egg needs very little air to maintain its fire, so the longer you keep the lid up the higher you will drive your temperatures. The beauty of the AR is both it, and any of the food on it, can be removed in one single step. Rather than doing some operation on the grill that will require you to keep the lid up for long period of time, you can pull the AR with the food completely off the Egg. Then you can do what you need to do off the grill without rushing. You only need to keep a lid open long enough to remove the AR and pop it open again to put the AR and food back on when you are done. This works great when you are basting, mopping, flipping a roast over, or relocating a temperature probe. It is also useful for even adding wood chips where you need to get down to the charcoal pile. Many times I may be cooking a roast where all I need is one grill grate, but I still use the AR. The roast may need periodic basting or glazing. When I cook a turkey I flip it over half way through the cook. If it is a long term cook, you may have to add wood chips or chunks several times during the course of the session. So I install a single grate on the AR, plus my meat. When it comes time to add the wood chips, or baste, glazed or flip the roast, it is quick work of pop it on and off the Egg. You have little to no temperature drop this way and by the time the food is ready to go back on the Egg, it has usually recovered the temperatures lost.

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Hidden Feature 2 - Cooking High in the Dome: This feature is not so much a “hidden feature” as it is an under appreciated feature. The AR has an attachment called the Rig Extender, which allows you to add an additional shelf at Level 7.5 or 7 1/2” (190 mm) above the fire ring. This puts you in the midsection of the dome about 1” (2.5 cm) below the BGE dome probe. It was only this past summer I began fooling around with this set up, and there are some definite advantages to it. My first lesson was how things with skin (hot dogs, sausages) cook better raised into the dome and away from the coals. Then when I got my dedicated baking Egg I used the AR with the Rig Extender to get the baked goods midway up into the dome. I have made things up there four or five times now and the food cooks so evenly I do not have to open the lid and rotate it 180 degrees to even out the cooking. At this height I am also able to rely on the dome thermometer for an accurate temperature reading since the food is very close. Lastly cooking times seem to fall exactly within the range given by the recipe. Not having to rotate the food also has the advantage of you not letting combustion air into the Egg.

KNOWN FEATURES:
Here are several well know features of the AR that made it's very useful for baking.


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Known Feature 1 - Multiple Layers of Food: The biggest use for multiple levels of shelves for me so far has been for cookies or rolls. So this was pointing to the need for the an AR for baking.


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Known Feature 2 - Flexible Setup: For direct grilling it is easy to achieve a shelf height a little higher or a lot higher above the charcoal.


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Known Feature 3 - Adding Wood Chips/Chunks: The AR uses oval-shaped shelves with openings on the side. These openings allow you to add wood chips without taking everything apart. If you are doing an indirect cook with the platesetter and you need to add more chips, there is really no way to easily do it without removing the hot plate setter and grill grid. Wood chunks are a different story. Often the chunks are too big to fit in the openings on the sides of the shelves of the AR. But then you take advantage of the AR's ability to be removed with the food in one operation. Either way things go more quickly and smoothly than if you were using the platesetter


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Known Feature 4 - Drip Pan: The AR makes it easy to set up a permanent (non-disposable) drip pan and without resorting to shims. You can get a 13” (33 cm) stainless steel drip pan for the AR which is reusable. Instead of buying disposable drip pans all the time, I simply wrap the top side of the AR’s drip pan with a sheet of aluminum foil. After not buying 5 or 6 $2.50 disposable pans this $13.00 pan has paid for itself. Also when using a disposable pan with the platesetter I used to have to shim the pan with 1/2” (12.5 mm) copper plumbing-t’s to create an airspace under the drip pan. This assured the drippings wouldn’t burn off and give off a bad tasting smoke flavor I didn’t want in the food. With the AR you simply set up a shelf above the pizza stone and below the meat to hold the drip pan. There is a 1 1/2” (38 mm) space between the bottom of the drip pan and the top of the stone.

JUSTIFICATION:
This time last year, I never would've thought I would require a second AR if I ever got a third Egg for baking. I was still trying to figure out all of the possibilities the AR offered me. I knew I would use one all the time for baking items such as rolls or cookies. What I didn't know about were the additional uses I mentioned above for general grilling and smoking.

Justification 1 - Easy Removal: The ability for the AR to be removed from the grill in one step including all the food is huge. Keeping the lid of a stabilized egg open for long period of time is not a good thing to do. It will create all kinds of temperature control issues. The BGE is able to raise its temperatures very quickly, Driving high temperatures back down is more difficult and time-consuming. So now any time I make even a single shelf direct cook where I'm going to have to mop or baste the food, I use the AR. This way when it comes time to baste I simply open the lid, remove the AR and food. I close the lid of the Egg while I attend to basting or mopping the meat or flipping it over. When I am done I pop everything back on the Egg. And if the weather is too cold to attend to your task outside, you can bring the AR and the food inside. I land it on a half-sheet pan fitted with a wire grid cooling rack insert to protect my countertop. This easy removal feature is something I would want to take advantage of for any low and slow cook or any cook where you need to baste, mop or glaze or flip the meat.

Justification 2 - Better Temperature Control: The ability to add an extra shelf in to hold a grate probe for my instant read thermometer has become a critical feature. The only time I use the dome thermometer anymore is when I am cooking high in the dome to begin with. More often than not I am cooking at a lower level. Being able to get a second shelf in close to the cooking level for the thermometer has been the key to having perfectly cooked roasts. The same is true for baked goods. If I am not cooking them high in the dome, I still use the AR so I can get that second shelf in so I can measure my temperatures at my cooking level.

Justification 3 - Better Scheduling: One of the reasons I got the third Egg for baking was to help compress the cooking schedule. Even with two Eggs I found I was still having to get an early start if I was doing a long cock like a low and slow roast or turkey. This item tied up one of the Eggs, and I was often using the AR due to the capabilities I described above. This meant any baking and grilling had to be done on the second egg. If I wanted to get my baking done and the AR was tied up on the first egg, This meant I was back to getting up extra early to get the baking done before doing anything else. It seemed kind of silly to have added a third Egg to my grilling arsenal, only to neutralize the advantage by not having the right Eggcessory available when I needed it. The AR was that right Eggcessory.


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AR NUMBER 2 - WHAT I BOUGHT:
For my second time around I tried to minimize what I bought in addition to the base AR itself. I tried to look at the typical use cases and only added those items I would truly need to have two of for simultaneous use. I also discovered I was able to save myself a little money by taking advantage of two of the packages offered by the Ceramic Grill Store. I bought the Adjustable Rig R & B (Ribs & Brisket) Combo, which got me the first four items on my list below and saved me $30 over buying the parts individually. I also got the Rig Extender Combo saving me another $8. I will list the parts below and the reasoning for getting a second one.



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Adjustable Rig: (AR R & B Combo) This is a given since this is the base platform that supports all of the other accessories. At a minimum I would've at least needed this.


Oval Pizza Stone: (AR R & B Combo) This is what gives you indirect cooking with the AR. This is mandatory for baking and I was using it for low and slow meat, chicken and turkey cooks. I am guessing that at least 50% of the time I would need 2 pizza stones.

13” x 17” (33 x 43 cm) Oval Shelf: (AR R & B Combo) While I already had several oval shelves, I didn't hesitate to get another one. This is typically the shelf I use to get a thermometer underneath the cooking grid. I also often use these in a multi-tier fashion for baking. The money I save buying the two combos paid for this shelf, so it was like I got the shelf for free. At one time or another I can see all of the oval shelves being used.

Large Slide Guide & Crossbar: (AR R & B Combo) These are the supports for the oval shelf, so they are mandatory.


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Rig Extender: (Rig Extender Combo) This piece gives you support for an additional shelf at level 7 (7” / 18 cm) which puts you high in the dome. I have recently discovered some of the advantages of cooking high in the dome and I can see times where I might want to do it on both Adjustable Rigs.

16” (40 cm) Sliding D-Grid: (Rig Extender Combo) This is the shelf made to sit on top of the Adjustable Rig. So if you are using the Rig Extender this is mandatory.


CONCLUSION:
I knew I made the right decision the first time a potential dual use case came up. Instead of trying to taylor the cooks to the equipment I had on hand, I was able to decide what the best way to cook the items were and I had the equipment available to do it. Having all of these potential setup options is very liberating. Going forward I am sure you will see more blog entries here about my experiences with the AR, as well as using two AR’s. Meanwhile this whole Egging thing keeps getting better and better as does the food I am able to cook.

SOME RELATED LINKS
Here are some links to earlier blog entries about my initial impressions of the Adjustable Rig. If you are unfamiliar with the AR, you might want to read these first so this blog entry makes more sense when you read it. I have assumed a certain knowledge level. You can also learn more from the manufacturers website which I have also linked to below.

   THE ADJUSTABLE RIG - FIRST IMPRESSIONS 2014 Blog Entry about the Adjustable Rig, a combination of my unboxing type impressions and my early experiences.
   GETTING TO KNOW THE ADJUSTABLE RIG 2014 Blog Entry about my first four months using Adjustable Rig including some unexpected and pleasant surprises.
   AR RAISED INDIRECT BAKING - FIRST IMPRESSIONS 2014 Blog Entry about my first attempt at baking raised indirect on the Rig Extender at Level 7.5 of the AR.
   ADJUSTABLE RIG RAISED INDIRECT BAKING - FIRST IMPRESSIONS 2014 Blog Entry about my first attempt at baking raised indirect on the Rig Extender at Level 7.5 of the AR.

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