Archive for January, 2012

Brinkmann Grill Reviews

Brinkmann offers a wide range of consumer level grills that are readily available at many big-box brick and mortar retailers. With such wide use, there are a number of reviews to take into consideration.

Brinkmann Grill Reviews: Overview

Overall, for a company that offers a wide range of budget level grills, Brinkmann achieves a predictable level of quality and consumer satisfaction. There are a few patterns that emerge when examining many of their most popular models. One of the most common strengths of the grills is their full range of features. Brinkmann does an excellent job of offering the latest features at entry level prices. Unfortunately, in most cases, the entry level price is indicative of an entry level grill. Lack of durability and low build quality are common complaints.Brinkmann Grill Reviews

Types of Brinkmann Grills

The major grill types are listed here with their most common pros and cons. They have been separated and broken down here because of the differences in complexity and fuel type.
Charcoal grill reviews: The most common praise for the charcoal grills is their cost effectiveness. The grills are at an ideal price point for the casual outdoor cook. In addition to the low price, Brinkmann makes sure that their charcoal grills have plenty of cooking area. Common remarks by reviewers point out the simplicity of the grill’s design, as well as its easy portability and unassuming profile. The overwhelming negative feedback, however, is related to the durability of the grill. Thin metal, flimsy construction, and a finish that easily chips off are the most common complaints.
Gas grill reviews: Brinkmann gas grills have always had a great look in the store. Their modern design and bright colors catch the eye and look very appealing on the patio. One thing that can be said for the grills is that they offer plenty of cooking space. Brinkmann has become very good at maximizing effective grill space. Enhanced features, such as a side burner, secondary grill rack, and optional rotisserie attachments give the grill versatility and allow the outdoor cook to enjoy the latest grill features. However, as with the charcoal grills, Brinkmann gas grills suffer from the same cheap build quality. A common complaint is that the frame will get off center and the doors will not close properly. The grills are also notorious for uneven heating because their burners are made of cheap materials and do not distribute heat very well.

Brinkmann Grill Reviews: Conclusion

At the end of the day, it is undeniable that Brinkmann has gained a place for itself as one of the largest grill manufacturers in the country. While their grills may not be of the highest quality, they are useable and cost effective. For the occasional outdoor cook, a Brinkmann grill will likely suffice for use a few times per season. Over time, it will likely begin to degrade in appearance, but it will still work. For the outdoor chef who envisions using the grill regularly and entertaining at cookouts, most Brinkmann grill reviews agree that the grill is not ideal for such use.

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Brinkmann Grills

The Brinkmann corporation is a company that has established a strong presence in the outdoor grilling world. With over 30 years of company history, they have a strong track record of providing quality products and services to the American household.

Brinkmann Grills Focus on the Grilling Experience

Brinkmann’s grill designs have many accessories and convenience features to make the grilling experience as positive as possible. Many outdoor chefs know the great benefits of having plenty of work space on either side of the grill. Brinkmann grills have plenty of preparation space right next to the grill. In addition to the space, Brinkmanns feature racks and hooks for all of the grilling tools that may be needed during the grilling process. Brinkmann anticipates what the outdoor chef needs to pull off the perfect cookout, and has included all of the right features in their grills.

Types of Brinkmann Grills

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Brinkmann offers a variety of grill types to accommodate every outdoor chef. Whatever fuel or cooking style you prefer, Brinkmann has a grill that will fit.

Brinkmann Grills

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Charcoal grills: Brinkmann’s charcoal grills are primarily designed to use charcoal briquettes. Their heavy grade metal construction is the industry standard for durability and heat distribution.

Charcoal Smokers: Brinkmann offers several drum style smokers at an affordable price point for the average outdoor chef. Drum smokers impart their signature smoky flavor by keeping the fire in a separate compartment. Because the flame is removed from the meat compartment, a lower temperature is easier to maintain. These low, stable temperatures are best for ribs and pork shoulder, along with many other meat cuts.

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Perhaps Brinkmann is most well known for their free standing gas grills. Indeed, these grills are the ones most readily available to the consumer at many large retailers. It could be said that Brinkmann gas grills are the industry standard, balancing quality and cost effectiveness.

Final Analysis

Brinkmann is a large outdoor product company that has built a name for itself as a mass producer of standard quality grills. They

Brinkmann Grillsare the primary brand offered at many big box retailers and as a result, their presence is known on many American patios. Perhaps a significant part of their ubiquity is due to their accessibility and cost effectiveness as “Gifts for Dad.” For the average home cook, a Brinkmann grill may be all that is necessary for the occasional burger or hot dog.

In the area of quality and longevity, however, Brinkmann grills have a somewhat lackluster appeal. The serious outdoor chef may soon realize that a higher quality grill has the heat distribution and weight that he needs.

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Stoneware

Grilling stones are important pieces of equipment for any outdoor chef who progresses beyond the novice stage in his grilling. Stoneware allows the chef to use the grill for a host of new applications previously impossible with only the grate.

There is more to successfully using grilling stones than just buying one and tossing it on the grill. A number of features and techniques ought to be considered. Stoneware

Stoneware Types

The pizza stone is perhaps the most popular stone item used for cooking. Pizza stones are ideally suited for the round charcoal grill because of their compatible shape. Many companies now offer square and rectangle cooking stones to accommodate the shapes of a variety of grills. In addition to this, specialized stoneware can now be purchased. Bread pans, pie pans, even muffin pans can be found that are made of stone. Many of these specialized shapes are not useful with the grill. In fact, because of their shape, these specialized stoneware pans do not take advantage of the unique properties of stone as a cooking method.

Stoneware Use

Why use cooking stoneware rather than just placing food on the grill grate? In many situations, cooking your food directly on the grate is the best method. The stone is no place for a steak, chicken breast, or pile of vegetables; these foods benefit from exposure to the flame. However, if some foods were placed on the grate, they would immediately fall through the cracks and meet a fiery end. Anything involving dough, especially, is best cooked on a stone. With the exception of the flatbread style grilled pizza, where the dough is stiff enough to hold its shape without the stone, breads are almost always cooked on the stone.

When selecting your cooking stone, be sure to get one that is thick and heavy. Some stoneware will indicate on the packaging how hot the stone can get without cracking. This is an important factor to consider because some stones cannot withstand exposure to the harsh flame of the grill. If a stone is too weak, it will crack when the cool dough hits the hot surface of the stone. The temperature differential causes stress within the stone, causing a crack that can be explosive.

Stoneware Alternatives

A number of stone alternatives exist. At their core, they do the same thing: store heat and transfer it to your food. Some stoneware alternatives are made of cast iron, they are thick and will not crack under stress. However, cast iron is heavy and tends to be expensive compared to typical cooking stones.

Another stoneware alternative is made of lava rock. The advantage of the lava stone is that it is lightweight and can be seasoned to impart unique flavor to your food. Because of its natural lightweight internal structure, it is less susceptible to cracking. Lava stone also is quite expensive when compared to typical stoneware.

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Grilling Techniques

Everyone knows there is more to grilling than just tossing a piece of meat over the flame. Proper grilling techiques must be employed to ensure that your food comes out perfect every time.

Grilling Techniques overview

Grill masters use many different techniques in their pursuit of culinary perfection. Some techniques are simple and ought to be observed every time you use the grill. Some techniques are more advanced and take some practice to get the hang of. Remember that achieving perfection takes time. Keep working at perfecting these skills, remember that every grill is different so you can be sure that there will be some tweaking to do. Take a look at the more detailed posts about each technique to learn more.Grilling Techniques

Basic Grilling techniques

Perhaps one of the most basic grilling techniques to master is direct heat and indirect heat grilling. Simply put, direct heat means that your food is directly above and exposed to the flame of the grill. Indirect heat means that the food is not being exposed to the open flames. Both grilling methods have their advantages and disadvantages. On a gas grill, place your food above an active burner for direct heat. For indirect heat, turn off the burner directly below your food but leave the others on. For indirect grilling on a charcoal grill, pile all of the burning charcoal to one side of the grill and place your meat on the opposite side of the grate.
Direct heat grilling is typically used with the next technique of discussion: searing. Searing meat creates the appetizing grill marks and irregular coloring that we think of with grilled food. Because of the direct exposure to the flame, the surface of the meat changes on a molecular level, enhancing the flavor.
Indirect heat grilling is typically used with more delicate meats, such as seafood; or with longer cooking meats, such as pork shoulder. Another use for indirect heat is with smoking food. Smoke chips impart a massive amount of flavor to any food. Indirect heat is ideal with smoking because it allows the smoke to work into the meat without searing the outside so more smoke cannot get in.

Advanced grilling techniques

Braising is not something reserved for the indoor oven, it can also be accomplished on the grill. Typically braising refers to cooking meat in liquid in the oven. When used in the grill, it is important to monitor your temperature during the braise. Indirect heat should be used to keep the bottom of the meat from burning due to direct exposure to the flame.
Baking is also a technique that can be used on the grill. Most often we think of baking pizza on the grill, but you can also make a number of rustic loaves and even pan breads with the grill. When baking on the grill, once again, the heat ought to be monitored closely. Many factors are at play when baking, check out the baking post for a detailed discussion of these grilling techniques.

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BBQ Thermometer

In many areas of life, the best things often come in small packages. Grilling is no exception. One of the most important grilling tools you will ever own is likely one of the smallest. That tool is the BBQ thermometer.

BBQ Thermometer Basics

A quality thermometer allows you to accurately monitor the internal temperature of your meat. Whether you are looking for a perfectly crusted rare steak, a tender pork tenderloin, or fall-off-the-bone pulled pork barbecue, the BBQ thermometer helps you achieve consistent results every time.

Many hold the chef in high esteem who has a “6th sense” about the doneness of his meat. Some outdoor chefs are able, with the prod of a finger, to determine with astonishing accuracy how done their meat is. This skill is developed with many years of experience and is rarely mastered by any but the most proficient chefs. For the rest of us, there is the BBQ thermometer. It’s the tool that lets you grill like a master every time.

BBQ Thermometer

BBQ Thermometer Types

A variety of BBQ thermometers are available for use, and some are more effective than others. The two main types of meat thermometers are known as instant-read thermometers and leave-in thermometers. For the sake of this article we will limit our discussion to digital thermometers because of their accuracy and rare need for calibration.

Instant-read BBQ thermometers are designed to be inserted into the meat during the cooking process. Upon insertion, the BBQ thermometer reads the meat temperature, displays it for the chef, and is removed from the meat. A good instant-read thermometer is able to accurately read the temperature of the meat within 1 to 3 seconds of being inserted. Unfortunately, the vast majority of instant-read thermometers fall far short of this benchmark. The lower quality instant-read thermometers either sacrifice accuracy for a rapid

temperature reading, or vice versa. Few attain both accuracy and speed, and the ones that do are relatively expensive. The Thermapen, made by Thermoworks, is one high quality instant-read BBQ thermometer that has gained a reputation for accuracy and speed. It is recommended by many chefs worldwide and has become the industry standard for such thermometers.
Leave-in BBQ thermometers are designed to be inserted into the meat before cooking and left there until the cooking is done.

These thermometers are typically more affordable because they only have to achieve one thing: accuracy. Some home chefs are concerned that the wire connecting the probe to the thermometer will melt in the grill or oven. This is typically not a problem because the wire is coated with a plastic coating that can withstand high temperatures. Many companies offer good leave-in thermometers, but Polder has gained a name for quality in the grilling community. They offer a variety of leave-in thermometers, some with more than one probe, and some with wireless alert systems that can even send a message to your smartphone when your meat is done.

BBQ Thermometer Use

Both thermometer types have their strengths and weaknesses. The instant-read thermometer is perhaps the more versatile of the two, but its cost can be prohibitively high for the average home chef. The leave-in thermometer works well for larger cuts of meat such as pork shoulder or loin, but can mar the visual appeal of more delicate meats like salmon or chicken. For steaks that are 12 ounces or more, either thermometer type works well. Less than 12 ounces and the steak can get too thin for the leave-in thermometer.

Whether you opt for the more costly instant-read or slow and steady leave-in bbq thermometer, use it to achieve the perfect medium-rare steak that will astound your friends and family.

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Charcoal

At the beginning of human history, mankind made the earth-shattering discovery that the application of heat makes food taste considerably better, and so began one of the longest-standing cultural centerpieces of all time: cooking.

Charcoal Basics

It was only relatively recently in the human timeline that heat came from anywhere other than an open flame fueled by axe-felled firewood. Today, we have the gas and electric oven which domesticate the heat-to-food application, taming it so that cooking can be done indoors. However, the rustic and smoky flavors of food cooked over an open flame will never be domesticated and brought indoors. These are the wild flavors of the outdoors, as free as the nature they are derived from.

At some point in human development, mankind realized that the ideal fuel for a cooking fire would be relatively controllable, with low smoke and minimal flare-up potential. At some length, humans discovered that they could drive away all of the uncontrollable, smoky, flare-up prone elements of firewood by cooking them off ahead of time. After wood has been heated to burning temperatures for several hours and then cooled, what remains is only the burnable elements of wood. This became known as charcoal, the fuel that burns long and hot with minimal smoke and maximal predictability.

Charcoal

Charcoal Types

The first and longest-lasting type of charcoal is lump charcoal. This is, quite simply, wood that has been heated in a kiln to temperatures at which it would normally burn. Heating the wood chunks to this level for several hours causes the wood to shrink as water and other natural impurities are burned off, leaving behind only the carbon structure of the wood.

The second and more common type of charcoal in this modern age is charcoal briquettes. Charcoal briquettes are made in almost the same manner as lump charcoal, except the wood has been ground into sawdust and pressed together into uniform shapes. This sawdust is bound together by a number of chemicals that help it to hold its shape.

Which Type is Better?

Both lump and briquette charcoal perform the task of outdoor cooking superbly. Both light easily, impart great flavor, and burn controllably and predictably. However, most grill masters tend to prefer one over the other. Some maintain staunchly that the purity of lump charcoal clearly makes it superior to the chemical-pumped briquette. Others herald predictability imparted by the geometric shape of the briquette. Both sides can agree on one thing, however: no matter what type of charcoal you choose, it’s better than gas.

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BBQ Rubs & Sauces

BBQ rubs & sauces, when used properly, can greatly enhance the taste and texture of any food from the grill. Rubs are dry seasoning blends that have been formulated for a specific flavor combination, while sauces are liquid in form.

A Brief Introduction

Most meat rub blends have salt or sugar as their base, with one of those ingredients making up at least 50% of the blend. The rest of the ingredients can be any combination of a variety of seasonings. Typically the seasonings are of a bolder stripe because subtle seasonings are quickly lost in the rest of the overall flavor of the meat and rub.
Sauces are seasonings in liquid form. Because of their viscous properties, they posses a number of application advantages over rubs. Sauces can be applied before, during, or after cooking. Rubs are best applied before or sometimes during cooking. Many sauces can double as marinades. No matter when they are applied to your food, sauces infuse a high level of moisture. Most grilling sauces have mustard or vinegar as their base. Some are oil-based and a few are water- or mayonnaise-based.BBQ Rubs & Sauces

BBQ Rubs & Sauces: Rubs

As mentioned above, BBQ rubs are seasoning blends. Nearly any seasoning blend will work on a large chunk of meat, but a common “country style” blend consists of 50% kosher salt, 25% brown sugar, 10% chili powder, and 5% each of garlic, onion, and cumin powder. Many variations of these ratios exist, but most revolve around these basic flavors. Cajun style rubs are very popular as well, typically employing a higher ratio of spicy ingredients.

An important consideration when applying rubs is how long your meat will be exposed to the rub before it is cooked. Because most rubs consist primarily of salt and sugar (two hydrophilic chemicals), when they are applied to meat they immediately go to work drawing out the moisture. This is a problem because we want the moisture to stay in the meat. After about 45 minutes the salt breaks down the meat tissue and the meat begins reabsorbing moisture, along with the flavor of the rub. For this reason, the key to applying rubs before cooking is to rub it at least 45 minutes in advance, and ideally even earlier than that. Larger cuts of meat benefit greatly from an overnight rub. This is sometimes called a “dry marinade.”

BBQ Rubs & Sauces: Sauces

Sauces come in a wide variety of styles and flavors. Their ingredient profiles are much more diverse than the profiles of rubs. Depending on their dominant ingredients, grilling sauces can be sweet, tangy, spicy, or acidic. The sweet and tangy sauces are typically characterized as “BBQ” sauces, and widely used on pork or beef barbecue. Mustard or a vinegar/tomato combination are generally the dominant flavors in such sauces. Spicy or acidic (citrus) sauces are more commonly used on chicken or seafood. The spicy flavor of hot sauces and the acidic bite of citrus sauces both complement the flavor of chicken very well. Citrus sauces also greatly enhance the flavor of fish or shrimp.

Big Green Egg Accessories, “Eggcessories”

Finding Big Green Egg accessories (“eggcessories”) can cause a problem because of BGE’s unique shape and size. Find out how to find the best ones for your grill!

You see, so many of the common universal grill accessories are not well suited for the job.

BGE accessories are referred to by the community as “Eggcessories” and are made by the Big Green Egg company, or a number of other manufacturers. Only products manufactured by Big Green Egg are covered under their warranty and guaranteed against defects.  Big Green Egg accessories

Big Green Egg Accessories: Grill parts

The Big Green Egg consists of just a few component parts. Besides the core of the Egg, the base and dome, there are only 9 other peices: the lid, thermometer, hinge band, cooking grate, gasket, fire ring,  fire box, fire grate, and draft door.

Find out where the get the best BGE accessories!

All of the Big Green Egg’s components are simple to access and replace if necessary, and the ceramic components are warrantied for life. Perhaps the two most commonly upgraded components of the BGE are the thermometer and gasket. The thermometer is a basic model and has been known to lose accuracy over time.

An OEM replacement can be ordered, but nearly any grill thermometer works as a replacement. The OEM gasket that comes on the BGE is made of basic felt and is responsible for sealing the joint between the base and dome.

This felt gasket is prone to melting or burning at high temperatures so it is often replaced with a high quality  Nomex gasket. The Nomex gasket is also available from Big Green Egg and is made of flame retardant material so it is more durable than the felt gasket.

Big Green Egg Accessories: Upgrades and accessories

Perhaps more prominent than the BGE components are the upgrades and accessories. A wide variety of products are available to aid and enhance the use of the Big Green Egg. One of the most useful accessories is the plate setter, a ceramic stone that is designed to be placed between the fire and the cooking grate for indirect grilling.

The plate setter can also be used as a cooking stone for pizza and bread in a pinch. Other baking stones are available as well, care should be given when selecting a stone for grilling. Not all stones can withstand prolonged exposure to direct flame and may crack when pizza or bread is delivered to their surface for cooking.

Upgraded stands are available for the Big Green Egg to give it a work area on either side. The basic metal “nest” gives the Egg portability, but a common complaint is that there is no prep area for food or tools. A number of wooden or metal stands are available to remedy this problem.

Get the best BGE accessories!

Big Green Egg Accessories: Best Place to Find Them?

What’s the point of having an excellent grill that’s merely factory made? Make it yours! If you upgrade your BGE, then you’ll begin to enjoy it more. Having friends over for a bbq will be much more fun and exciting. Not only will you be able to talk about your grill, you’ll be able to talk about the awesome accessories and how they’ve made grilling much more enjoyable. And hey, if it gets you back inside faster, even your wife will like it!

The Big Green Egg is a truly wonderful grill and smoker and Big Green Egg accessories allow you to upgrade and personalize for your convenience and enjoyment.

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Big Green Egg Reviews

Big Green Egg reviews impart much praise to this popular grill from both professional and amateur grill enthusiasts. What do people say? Find out!

It is easy to be skeptical of positive press. Journalists can be paid for a positive review whether the product warrants praise or not. The real test of a product is with the mass market.

Experts tell us that most people will only voluntarily take the time to post a product review if they have very strong feelings about that product. This is the reason many of the product reviews we see around the web are either 5 star or 1 star. There is little in between.

With this in mind, let’s venture into the online community and attempt to make sense of the plethora of opinions. Big Green Egg Reviews

Big Green Egg Reviews: Product Description

The Big Green Egg is a unique shape, designed to maximize fuel efficiency and airflow inside the cooking dome. It is made of heavy ceramic and features a smooth green coating that is impervious to heat and weather.

The Egg sits on a wheeled metal frame and can be upgraded to feature a small prep surface on either side. On the side of the Egg is a stainless steel sliding door to control air entry at the bottom, and at the top is a cast iron lid with a butterfly valve to control airflow out of the Egg.

The entire dome of the Egg is hinged to allow access to the interior and the hinge mechanism locks open so the chef does not have to hold the lid up. The interior of the Egg features a stainless steel cooking grate.

Big Green Egg Reviews: What People Say

Out of 85 product reviews, the overwhelming consensus is that the Big Green Egg is a great grill. 73 out of 85 reviewers rated the BGE with 5 stars, and only one gave a 1 star rating. After reading through the positive comments, several patterns emerge. The major pros of the grill are as follows:

  • The shape and ceramic construction of the BGE cooks food evenly with minimal moisture loss.
  • The natural charcoal used in the grill imparts a unique flavor rivaled by few and matched by none.
  • The BGE can be used with great versatility as a grill, oven, or smoker.
  • Temperature in the BGE can be precisely controlled within a few degrees by adjusting the air vents.
  • As a smoker, the BGE can hold a low temperature between 200 and 225 degrees F with almost no fluctuation.
  • Big Green Egg, Inc. offers a lifetime warranty and will replace parts with no hassle.
  • The interior of the BGE burns itself clean and requires no maintenance.

The Big Green Egg is not without its shortcomings, however:

  • The grill is very heavy because of its thick ceramic construction.
  • The included thermometer wears out easy and is less accurate than many others.
  • The grill has a hefty price tag.
  • There is a learning curve when cooking with charcoal.

The Bottom Line

The BGE offers superior taste and versatility as a grill. However, for the casual griller looking for a less expensive and easier grill, a gas grill may be the better option. Still, there is no denying that once you have eaten food from a Big Green Egg, nothing else will ever quite live up to it.

One final note: Buying a Big Green Egg online voids your warranty, so be sure to get it locally!

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Big Green Egg Charcoal Grills: One Grill to Rule them All

Big Green Egg charcoal grills, often known as BGEs, combine the best aspects of a charcoal grill and a smoker. Find out why it’s the best!

It’s unique shape uses modern ceramic and ancient design to provide optimal airflow for temperature regulation and moisture retention. Anyone who has ever used a BGE will testify to it’s unique quality and one of a kind taste.  Big Green Egg charcoal grills

Big Green Egg charcoal grills: Space age materials for backyard cooking

BGE uses a high temperature ceramic clay formula that is derived from the same material that insulates the nose of the space shuttle during re-entry. Because of this high quality ceramic construction, the grill can withstand even the most extreme heat without cracking or suffering structural compromise.

The thick ceramic walls retain heat, conserve fuel, and provide excellent temperature stability for long periods of time. High heat can be achieved because of the insulation, making high temperature searing and flash-fire grilling possible.

Conversely, the thick insulation also allows the fire to burn slowly at low temperatures, making the BGE ideal low temperature smoking.

Big Green Egg charcoal grills: Good for you, and the environment

BGE recommends using only solid lump charcoal. Many argue that lump charcoal has significant advantages over the more common charcoal briquettes. Briquettes are manufactured as a processed fuel product. They are well suited for grilling because of their regular shape and consistent burn quality.

However, because of the manufacturing process, briquettes often include a number of additives and enhancers. Lump charcoal, on the other hand, uses unprocessed wood and forgoes the use of additives. This allows the charcoal to burn clean and hot, making it the ideal fuel for the BGE.

Lump charcoal is known to burn hotter and more consistently even than charcoal briquettes. The charcoal lights easily in a chimney starter and does not require lighter fluid or pellets. Once the charcoal is burning brightly, it will provide even heat to the BGE whether the chef needs high and fiery temperatures or a low and slow burn.

Big Green Egg Charcoal Grills: Things you can cook

Everyone cooks meat on the grill. Barbecue chicken, buffalo wings, steak, hamburgers, etc. are all commonly grilled items. Often they can be cooked quite well on the average charcoal or gas grill. The natural charcoal used by the BGE imparts a unique smoky flavor to any food, including the typical meats.

What sets the BGE apart however, is it’s ability to smoke meat. With a BGE you can achieve great results with fall-off-the-bone ribs and succulent pulled pork barbecue. Vegetables take on an incredible, but subtle, smoky flavor from the charcoal.

The high heat capability combined with a good pizza stone lets a Big Green Egg charcoal grills owner experiment with traditional pizza styles and achieve authentic Neapolitan style pizza at home.
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