Large Spider - Not a One Trick Pony
11/03/13 Filed in: BGE Tip
One of the things I pride myself on is being able to come up with “thinking outside of the box” solutions. I recently came up with another couple of uses for my Large Spider (from the Ceramic Grill Store) for the Large Big Green Egg, but it took me a while to do it. So I thought I might mention it here as a tip in case other owners of the Large Spider only thought of it as a support for a wok. I know I did until a couple days ago.
In my own defense I bought my Large Spider specifically to support my 16” (40 2/3 cm) wok. That is all I ever needed it for. Then I decided to make a paella and began looking for a way to use a raised grid. My paella pan is also a 16” (40 2/3 cm) pan like my wok, but the handles on my wok are turned up more vertically and the lid easily closes. My paella pan is actually a metric dimension 40 cm (15 3/4”) and was still a little larger than the 18” diameter of the interior of the Egg because the handles are more horizontally oriented than the ones on my wok. So I needed to do something to create a raised grid where I could get the paella pan above the Eggs base. While I would still have trouble with the handles hitting the top lid, I could cook the paella with the lid open as many people do.
Until I thought of the Large Spider, the best I had come up with was to use the cast iron grill grate as a base to put the 2-tired cooking rack on. This would raise the paella pan above the bottom of the Egg. This definitely would have worked, but I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of not being able to close the lid. You see one of the reasons I was looking forward to doing paella on the Egg was being able to finally add some wood smoke. This would be rather easy with the lid down and not so easy doing it open air. The other thing I didn’t like is with all this gear on the Egg, it would be hard to add the wood chips.
Quite coincidentally I was thinking how cooking a paella is like making a lower temperature less frenetic version of a stir-fry. That was when the light bulb went off in my head: I could use the Large Spider. When I set up the spider & test fit the paella pan, the pan was just slightly too low. It was being supported by the paella pans handles not the Spider. I took the Spider and rotated it so the legs were on top of the ceramic fire ring rim and not in the recessed notches. This raised the paella pan 1/2” (1.25 cm) and the handles fell exactly at the gasket level. If I’d tried planning this, I wouldn’t have been able to get it any closer. The unexpected result of this was I am able to close the lid almost entirely, perfect for adding smoke. A second happy discovery was adding wood chips could be easily accomplished without having to disturb the paella pan full of hot liquid. If I used the 2-tiered cooking rack on the grill grate I would have had to pull the hot pan, and the two hot racks to add the chips.
A last thing that occurred to me, was the spider alone with a grid on it would give me a quick and easy raised grid any time I needed it. So if you have a Large Spider, don’t think of it as a one-trick pony (wok support) like I did.