The trick is to smoke the meat and not make the meat smoke

High on the Dog - Pt. 2

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This blog entry is a follow up to an entry earlier this summer where I tried making some hot dogs raised direct using the Adjustable Rig. While successful in general, I had some setup and cooking issues to deal with. I tried again, a little while afterwards, and had better luck. I think I am getting close to a new Go-To set up for cooking hotdogs. This setup still had a few “quirks”, but I intend to use this setup a few more times to see if they were one-time quirk or repeatable.

For those who missed the first blog entry
HIGH ON THE DOG, or who are unfamiliar with the Adjustable Rig I will do a quick summary here. The Adjustable Rig or AR is a third party Eggcessory that sits on your fire ring and allows you to have multiple levels of shelves on your Big Green Egg. I will provide some useful links below if you a interested in learning more about the AR. The main unit can accommodate four levels of shelving which allows you to put shelves a 4 levels. These levels are measured in inches above the fire ring: 1.5, 3, 4.5 and 6. Level 6 (6” or 15 cm) is said to be ideal for foods with casings. This puts the shelf at about 1 3/4” (4.5 cm) above the gasket line and up into the domed lid of the Egg. This lessens the effects of the heat directly off the coals, while increasing the convective heat and uses more of the heat reflecting off the dome. The first time out I put a BGE Half Moon Cast Iron Griddle down at Level 1.5 to toast the buns. This caused several issues: Gaining access to the buns was tricky and I had to remove the grid at Level 6 to do so. Also the buns cooked up in 30 seconds which is a bit fast if you have lots of things going on. I also decided to use 400 (205 C) degrees on the dome thermometer as my cooking temperature. Two problems here: The instructions say for best results use 375 degrees (190 C) and the distance between the cooking grid and the probe was more than I thought. Afterwards I measured the distance and found it was 3 1/2” (9 cm). This means I may have been cooking closer to 450 degrees (232 C).


So this time around I made two changes for the better and one that didn’t work as well as I might have hoped First I put the BGE Half Moon Cast Iron Griddle up at Level 6. This solved both the access and cooking too fast problems. I also feel that having the griddle that low may have let it deflect and interfere with the heat distribution on the other half of the grill way up at Level 6. The second thing I did was to put an oven thermometer up on the shelf at Level 6 and shoot to cook at 375 (190 C). The last thing I did was use a cast iron grill press to try to help the hotdogs cook evenly on the griddle. With the griddle down at Level 1.5 I had not been able to use the grill press.


I fired up the Egg and stabilized it so I was getting a reading of 375 (190 C) on the oven thermometer sitting on the cooking grid at Level 6. I added the rolls and used the cast iron grill press to help press them down and help them to cook evenly across the entire surface. This time the cooking time was not measured in seconds (30) but in minutes. It took about 2 minutes per side which was the good news. The bad news was the grill press had “smooshed" the rolls down and they did not spring back. I did add a little extra pressure when putting the press on. I may try the press one more time, but just lay it down on top of the rolls without putting any downward force on it. The new setup was very easy to use and where I turn the dogs every two minutes I can probably work the rolls in so they cook with the hot dogs. I can start cooking the rolls during the middle 4 minutes of the hot dog’s cooking time. This would help the problem I had with my temps rising. Because the rolls were “smooshed” by the grill press I had to use a spatula to pry them loose from the griddle surface to turn them and again to remove them from the grill. This extra grill open time let in more combustion air and my temps climbed closer to 400 degrees (205 C).


This time I also had better results with the cooking on the dogs. Even though my temps were 50 degrees (27 C) higher than I wanted, they were still at least 50 degrees (27 C) lower than the first time out. This was because I was measuring the temp at the cooking level, not the dome level and using 375 (190C). Like last time the skin showed less pronounced grill marks and more of a general even browning of the skin. One of the dogs still split, but this was far less splitting than last time. The skins seemed to have more snap than my recollection of dogs cooked down close to the coals. But the only way to test this would be to cook the same batch of hot dogs on two grills using the two different setups. I am not going to go there, frankly I like the snap of the skin like this so I don’t need to do that test.


As I said at the start, I am close. I need to correct for the “smooshed” rolls and the higher cooking temp. I think the solutions are inter-related. I am going to try the grill press without my pressing down on it. If the dogs don’t flatten, I will get them flipped faster and let in less combustion air. Also now that they are two minutes per side I can cook them together with the hot dogs. So instead of cooking them first and having the grill run high afterwards, I can do them at the same time so even if the temperatures climb a bit, it will happen during the cook. What I like best is the final solution is getting simpler and less complex.

Here are some links to earlier blog entries about my first attempt cooking hot dogs raised direct on the AR, my first impressions of the Adjustable Rig, plus a link to the web site for the AR.

   HIGH ON THE DOG 2014 Blog Entry about my first attempt at cooking hot dogs raised direct on Level 6 of the AR.
   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.


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