Running Your BGE Topless
13/06/13 Filed in: BGE Tip
This is a basic tip about the Big Green Egg, plus several Tips within that tip. And to be 100 percent clear I am referring to the BGE being topless. not you. The basic tip is to not use the Dual Function Metal Cap when you are warming up your Big Green Egg. This seems obvious when you think about it, but it seems a lot of folks don’’t actually do it. With the cap off the chimney on top of the dome is wide open for maximum draft. If the lower draft door is open you are going to get the maximum airflow through the Egg and the maximum amount if fire and therefor temperature rise. So for the quickest warmup times, leave the top cap off. Just be sure to keep a close eye on things, because it is easy to have the Egg go from low to 800 or 1000 degrees (427-538 C) or more in the blink of an eye. The Egg will sometimes start off slowly, where the temperature guage will barely budge for several minutes. But then the needle starts moving so fast it is visible to the naked eye and you are off to the races. As long as you are careful though, cap off is the fastest way to heat up your Egg. In fact if I am shooting for cooking temps over 500 degrees (260 C), I usually plan on leaving the cap off throughout the cook and control the temps via the lower metal draft door.
OK so you may have already been doing this, what about the other tips I mentioned? Well before I mention them, the Lawyers require me to provide a safety tip:
There are times when depending on the temperatures you are using and the lower draft door settings you may actually have flames coming out of the top of your Egg. Be sure to keep an eye on your Egg for a few minutes before attempting any manuever where you are looking down into, or pointing something into the Eggs chimney. Don’t look straight down into the chimney, stand off to the side and look in at an angle. The picture accompanying this tip shows what I am talking about.
With the metal cap off, it makes it possible to look into the chimney of the Egg to see how the food is progressing. Obviously don’t lean over and place your eyes down near the chimney. But you can stand near the Egg and look down into the chimney to see your food. I often do this when I am cooking pizzas, because at 650 or 700 degrees the cooking time is around 4 minutes 15 seconds and a few seconds one way or the other can make a huge difference. A flashlight can be a big help here.
A second thing you can do with the Metal Cap off is shoot the grate temps with an infrared thermometer. This came in handy when I had two half moon cast iron griddle grates in my Egg. I knew the griddle grates would be hotter (since they are lower) than the dome thermometer. Wearing some BBQ gloves, I shot the beam of my infra-red thermometer down through the chimney opening onto the griddle grate surface. As mentioned I did this holding the thermometer off to the side slightly, not directly over the chimney. Doing this I was able to fine tune the dome temp, which was about 150 degrees lower, to acheive the griddle temperature I was shooting for. All without opening the Egg and having a temperature drop.
Please be careful using the Tips within the Tip and I would suggest getting to know your BGE for a while before attempting them.