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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.