Work has kept me very busy lately and it has been a double edged sword for sure. Things have been too slow for too long. The extra hours have meant some extra income which has allowed me to Eggcessorize some more. But they have also kept me away from the Egg. This blog will be about a purchase I made back in October that took me two months to get around to using: The Adjustable Rig by the Ceramic Grill Store. This is a modular system capable of giving you multi-level grill grids and/or your choice of grilling heights. Having your choice of multiple grilling heights allows you taylor the grill grid height you use to the food you are cooking and cook it at the level that takes the best advantage of some of the Eggs unique properties. You can cook down near the fire, or up away from the fire high in the dome. I don’t have a lot of time in using the Adjustable Rig (also referred to going forward as the AR), so consider this blog to be a First Impressions entry, and as I learn more about it through hands on use I will write other entries.
I have folks over on the weekends where I try to make a nice meal out on the grill. I like to have my act together for these, so I tend not to experiment on my guests. Often if I need to experiment, I will do it during the week. With work being as busy as it has been, I haven’t had time to do my weekday experimentation. So while I am really excited to have the AR, I haven’t had the time to experiment with it. The possibilities seem endless, but with that kind of flexibility comes a bit of a learning curve too. I have heard many folks say they rarely take their AR’s off their Eggs. This tells me the learning curve will be well worth the effort. “Excuses” now out of the way I will describe the various components of the AR.
The AR is set up here for indirect grilling a turkey. The oval stone is at Level 1.5, the sliding D-grid is at level 3 supporting the turkey in it’s pan. The advantage here over the platesetter is the D-shaped stone & sliding D-grid is the two sides are open which makes adding wood chips or chunks possible without removing the platesetter & grid. (left) The AR is set up for baking with the oval stone at level 3, the sliding oval grid at level 4.5 and the sliding d-grid on the rig extender at level 7.5. This gets the cookies higher into the dome than if I had used the plate setter & round grid. It also allowed me to bake two trays of cookies at once.
The AR system allows you to set up your cooking rig off the grill and then add it to the grill with our without the food in one operation. I now keep a piece of Corian by the Egg so I can land the hot AR on my countertops without damaging the granite.
WHAT IS THE ADJUSTABLE RIG SYSTEM?:
The idea behind the AR is to give you the ability to grill on multiple grill grids on one or more levels. Depending on the components you choose to go with your AR, it can be tailored to do multi-level Direct or Indirect Cooking or Baking. You also can set it up so you are grilling high in the dome, away from the fire and taking advantage of the heat radiating from the dome. You start with the AR piece itself & then add various components to taylor it to your desired use(s). The modular components such as grill grids, baking stones and drip pans taylor the AR to specifically suit the task at hand. To help out with this the Ceramic Grill Store offers 3 Combo Packages to get you headed in the right directions for your particular grilling or smoking needs.
Everything is made in America using high quality materials, such as 304 Grade Stainless Steel which is the food prep grade of stainless steel which is truly “stainless”. It is very resistant to rust or other types of staining. When you see a new “Stainless” steel grill that has started to rust after only a short time, it is NOT made of 304 Grade stainless steel. The Ceramic Grill Store company takes pride in their workmanship and talks about the quality of their materials, welds and finishing processes throughout their website. You can tell they take immense pride in what they do and how they do it. There is a little thank you note and business card that comes with your order. I have seen many glowing reports about the quality of their customer service on the Egghead message board. I enjoy the opportunity to buy a well made product that is made right here in America. In my mind any perceived extra cost is more than offset by the longer time I will go before having to replace it, as well as the benefit to our economy.
I will now describe the various component to the AR system that I own. Be aware this system is made for various sized BGE’s and various usages. There are additional components available which can be explored on the Ceramic Grill Store’s website. I will put the link at the end of this blog. Unless noted otherwise all items described below are made of 304 Grade stainless steel.
Here is the AR unit almost alone. There is an oval shelf on two crossbars installed at level 3.
THE ADJUSTABLE RIG:
Throughout this blog I am going to use an analogy comparing the AR to adjustable modular wire mesh shelving system (like InterMetro shelves used in the food service industry) to help explain the various components used with the AR. The AR itself is like the 4 vertical posts that everything else is mounted off of. The shelf posts typically have indented rings every inch or so apart that the shelving clips attach to. The AR consists of a stainless steel ring just under 18" (45 cm) in diameter which is intended to sit on the ceramic fire ring of the BGE. There are four vertical posts that have 3 different height mounting slots for attaching horizontal crossbars which support the shelves. There is also a semi-circular ring 6" (15 cm) above the base ring that forms the top of the AR. This ring is open at the front to allow for the use of a sliding oval top shelf. The opening allows the shelf to be pulled towards the front of the Egg.
The base AR allows you a total of 4 possible mounting heights. The heights are referenced in inches above the fire ring of the BGE, which is what the AR sits on. The three brackets on the vertical posts are spaced at 1 1/2", 3" and 4 1/2" above the fire ring (3.8, 7.6 and 11.4 cm). Additionally the top of the AR can hold either a full 18" (45 cm) fixed grill grate or a sliding oval grill grate which puts it at 6" (15 cm) above the fire ring and 2" (5 cm) above the felt line (gasket height). The intent of this high position, when used for direct grilling, is for items like hot dogs or sausages which have casings. At this height you can grill them at a medium temperature around 350-400 degrees (177-204 C) and not worry about the casings splitting because the items are too close to the fire. At the 6” (15 cm) level, or 2" (5 cm) above the gasket line this allows you space to slip wood chips or chunks onto the fire without having to remove the grate.
This last item brings up another nice feature of the AR. It is all one unit when assembled and regardless of how you set it up, you can lift both the AR and attachments and your food up and off the Egg should you need to get at your fire. I now keep some welders gloves in my grill cabinets to lift a hot AR up and out of the Egg. I also have an 20"x24" piece of Corian I keep on the counter top to protect the granite top from the heat of the AR, should I lift it out. Do be careful though, because an AR with multiple shelves full of food can be quite heavy.
CROSSBARS: In our wire shelving analogy, think of the crossbars as the plastic mounting clips that mount to the shelving posts. For the AR the Crossbars are stainless steel rods with both ends turned down. The Crossbars fit down into the mounting slots of the AR. The turned down ends keep the Crossbars from sliding from side to side and falling off. A pair of Crossbars are typically used with fixed grill grids and a single crossbar is used at the front when you are using a sliding shelf.
LARGE SLIDE GUIDE: The large slide guide supports oval sliding grids. In our shelving analogy this item is like an accessory to support a sliding a pull-out sliding keyboard tray. The slide guide has a crossbar attached to the rear position. There are two rails that supports the bottom of the sliding grids as it changes positions. There is a rod that serves as a cross tie at the front. You use a single crossbar to support the front half of the Large Slide Guide. the fixed rear crossbar serves to locate the slide guide in the correct front-to-back and side-to-side positions within the AR.
Here is the Rig Extender sitting on to of the AR. The sliding D-Grid is installed.
LARGE RIG EXTENDER: This attachment consist of 5 sloping posts with clips on the bottom and a grid support frame work on top. The 5 clips sit in the top ring of the AR and position it correctly on the AR. The Rig Extender gives you a 5th potential mounting height at 7 1/2" (19 cm) above the fire ring or 3 1/2” (9 cm) above the gasket line. The Rig Extender can support a 16 1/2" (42 cm) sliding D-shaped shelf or a sliding oval shelf. The intended use for this level of cooking are for items that tend to burn easily. You are up into the dome and take advantage of convective heat flowing from below and reflective heat coming off the dome.
The sliding Oval Grid is installed at Level 4.5 on the Large Slide Guide.
13"x17" ( 33x43 cm) OVAL GRID:
This shelf is intended for use on the AR or the Rig Extender. The straight sides allow it to slide out between the vertical posts of the AR. It will also slide when used on the Rig Extender, although you need to take some care to make sure the shelf isn't to far forward or too far back when you close the lid. The bars for the grid are spaced fairly close together and run from front to back in the grill. Being able to slide the grid out-of-the-way makes several things easier. If you pull the AR out of the grill, you are able to gain easier access to the food on the oval grid and/or the level below. Also the shape of the oval grid makes it easy to add some wood chunks or wood chips to your fire without actually having to remove the grill grid.
The sliding D-Grid is installed at Level 7.5 on the Rig Extender. Here it is being slid back to allow better access to the food below.
16 1/2” (42 cm) SLIDING D-GRID:
The Sliding D-Grid is intended to be used on top of the Rig Extender. The intent is it can be slid out of the way so you can get easier access to foods on the AR below. This grid has a spacing of approximately 1/2" between the grid elements. This is to help with smaller foods like veggies which tend to be cooked higher up in the grill and away from the fire.
The stock BGE stainless steel grill grid fits perfectly on top of the rig extender or on top of the AR at Level 6.
18" (46 cm) GRILL GRID: The AR is designed so that an 18" stainless steel grill grid can sit on top of the AR at the 6 inch level. What is nice is this may either be the stock S/S grille grid that comes with your BGE, or they sell a version as one of the accessories for the AR.
13’x17” (33 x 43 cm) OVAL PIZZA STONE: The oval pizza stone should not be looked at as just a pizza stone. It is intended for doing indirect cooks of all kinds. The oval shape is perfect for longer cuts of meat like ribs, which tend to stick out when cooked using a round stone. The oval stone can be installed over 2 Crossbars or it can be used on top of the Oval Grill Grid installed over the Large Slide Guide. This allows you to slide the stone forward to access the food on it more easily or to add wood chips or chunks to the Egg. The stone is made out of a high strength ceramic called Cordierite which is used to line the inside of kilns. It can withstand very high temperatures, but even so the stone should not be shocked by going from a very cold or very hot environment quickly. The Ceramic Grill Store folks say that a key to a good pizza stone is that it has a thickness over 1/2” (1.3 cm). The Oval Pizza Stone is 5/8” (1.6 cm) thick. Like all of the other AR components this ceramic stone is made in the U.S.
The 16” stainless steel drip pan made for the AR system.
16" (40 cm) STAINLESS STEEL DRIP PAN: The Ceramic Grille Store sells several sizes of drip pans to suit the size of your BGE and where on the AR you plan to use your drip pan. One of the sizes is intended to be set down and into the Spider should you be using the Spider with your AR. The pan is 1” (2.5 cm) high and has a rolled edge with tapered sides making it easier to grab. The rolled edge also gives the pan some additional rigidity. The pans are constructed of a Series 200 stainless steel. This is a lower grade stainless steel and will tarnish over time, but for a drip pan who cares? The pan with it's tapered edges was designed so that the 16" (40 cm) pan can be covered completely on top with an 18 inch (46 cm) standard width piece of aluminum foil. Covering the pan with the aluminum foil definitely makes cleanup easier. I like the idea of the stainless steel drip pan better than a disposable aluminum pan. I have had several aluminum pans develop pinhole leaks in the middle of a long cook and you lose all your cooking liquid or your drippings get all over the portions of the grill below. This also can create a nasty smoke that adversely affects the flavor of your food. Also aluminum foil melts at 1000 degrees (538 C) and since a lump charcoal can get up to 1200 (649 C), you need to watch where you put your aluminum pans because it is possible to melt them in a charcoal grill.. By purchasing an additional set of crossbars, you can put the drip pan up on its own level away from the pizza stone being used to create an indirect cooking environment. This prevents the stone from heating the drippings in the drip pan and turning them into that nasty smoke.
The Spider, also by Ceramic Grill Works, which I already owned for use with my wok is actually considered part of the AR system. When installed legs down hanging off the fire ring it can be used with a 13” stone or 13” grill grid for indirect grilling or high temperature searing.
The Spider, which I already owned to do wok cooking on the Egg, is also meant to be integrated in with the AR. The Spider is a ring with either 3 or 5 bent rods which serve as legs or hangers depending on wether you use the Spider with the legs up or down. When installed for wok cooking, with the legs down the rig has the appearance of a spider and hence the name. The number of legs is based on the number of notches in your fire ring. In the fall of 2012 the fire ring was changed from 5 slots to 3. You must order the Spider with the proper amount of legs to suit the fire ring on your Egg. When used to wok, you install the Spider with the legs up and it holds your wok up at the gasket level. When used as part of the AR system, the wok is installed legs up so that the ring hangs just above the level of the lump or about 1 1/2” (3.8 cm) below the fire ring. You can use a 13 inch (33 cm) stone to create an indirect cook, or place a 13 inch (33 cm) grille grid on the ring of the Spider to create a high temperature sear on your food. While this is something I don't see myself doing, you never know. It is nice to have the flexibility and I already do own the Spider.
THE AR'S BIG PICTURE GOALS: The modular system of the AR is intended to be set up to accomplish several big picture goals. I'm not going to go into the nuances of all of set ups available, because frankly I haven't learned them all myself. I need to have some more hands-on time with the AR to learn the best practices. When I do that I'm sure there will be another blog describing what I've learned. I mentioned this earlier but it bears repeating: One thing that tells me I've made the right decision is the fact that many AR owners posting on the Egghead message board, say they leave the AR in their Eggs pretty much all of the time. Now in the truth in adverting department, do be aware that you will need to remove the AR any time you will need to add lump charcoal or clean out your Egg. From what little I know about it, I am already excited about all of flexibility I have gained with my purchase of the AR and it's accessories.
The big picture goals of the AR are as follows:
MORE SPACE: To give you more available grilling space by allowing you to add more shelves. This will allow you to do one or more additional shelves worth of the same kind of food simultaneously. Many people find a long low and slow cook tedious and they don't necessarily enjoy doing them. Or perhaps they don't mind the cook itself, they just don't like being outside in the dead of winter doing it. These folks can cook up several briskets or pork shoulders at once, use one for their current needs and put the remaining meat in FoodSaver bags and freeze. This way here they don't have to freeze the next time they want some barbecue.
MORE FLEXIBILITY: To allow you to grill multiple differing types of foods at once at the ideal cooking level for each of those foods. Hardy meats down low near the heat source and more fragile vegetables up high.
MORE CONTROL: To allow you to grill a particular food at the ideal height within the big green egg for that type of food. For example by placing a grill grid at the 6"level of the AR or the 7.5 inch level if using the Rig Extender you are able to Cook foods with casings like hot dogs at a relatively mild us accessories to my arsenal. My mind is reeling at all of the additional flexibility this set up gives me. The ritemperature and away from close exposure to the the lump charcoal which tends to burst the skin. Certain baked items can be cooked high in the dome where you are getting less radiant heat from the lump and more reflected even heat from the dome.
As I said earlier, I am really Eggcited to add the AR and it's variog itself is easy to set up, The trick will be learning Best Practices. I will list a link below to the manufacturers website, where they have quite a bit of information about set up and how to do various types of cooks. I still think that while this information is helpful, the only way to truly understand it is to go through the process yourself. But believe me I am prepared to make that sacrifice and eat all of delicious food along the way. It's a tough job but someone has to do it!
ADJUSTABLE RIG WEBSITE
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