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How to Cook Indirect Heat on a Big Green Egg

How to Cook Indirect Heat on a Big Green Egg

The Big Green Egg is an incredible and versatile tool for grilling, barbequing, and smoking. Its simple-seeming design is deceptively clever because of the numerous ways you can use a Big Green Egg to prepare delicious meals. The Big Green Egg is a type of kamado grill that has been adapted to meet the discerning needs of Western cooks for years.

Over its long production life, the original Big Green Egg has seen the introduction of several accessories that make it even easier to use. One of our favorites is the Big Green Egg ConvEGGtor, a slick accessory that makes the indirect cooking process a snap.

How Do You Use the ConvEGGtor in the Big Green Egg?

The ConvEGGtor is one of the ultimate must-have accessories for your Egg. The idea is rather simple, but it is so effective that many people see this device as a real game-changer. The ConvEGGtor is made from the same NASA-grade ceramic as your Egg.

Installing the ConvEGGtor

It fits into the base above the firebox and locks in place in the accessory tabs. Once installed, the ConvEGGtor provides a barrier between your food and the direct heat of the flames while allowing heat and smoke to circulate through the dome.

Using the ConvEGGtor in a Big Green Egg

The setup is simple. You'll start by lighting hardwood lump charcoal in the bottom of the Big Green Egg. You'll want to use a fair amount depending on the length of time you'll be cooking. Keep in mind that the Big Green Egg is more efficient than other barbecue designs, so your lump charcoal will burn longer.

Once you are satisfied that you have a good bed of coals burning, simply place the ConvEGGtor with the legs facing up into the Big Green Egg. Your cooking grate then sits on top, allowing you to take full advantage of low and slow cooking methods.

Adjusting the Top and Bottom Vents

The target temperature for your Big Green Egg will depend on the type of meat you are cooking and how quickly you are planning on cooking. Thick cuts of meat with heavy muscle cording and intramuscular fat should be cooked at low and slow temperatures. This includes brisket, tri-tip, and prime rib.

Faster cooking proteins like spatchcock chicken can cook at higher temperatures. You'll also cook many lean cuts at a higher temperature and a shorter time to preserve the quality of the meat. Depending on your settings, you'll make adjustments to maintain the proper temperature.

Settings for Low and Slow

In order to maintain a low and slow temperature while using the ConvEGGtor, you'll start by adjusting the bottom vent so that it is only slightly open. You want to try and get the vent as close to closed as possible without snuffing out the charcoal.

Then, you'll use the top vent to adjust your temperature. Closing the vent will lower the temperature and opening it will bring the temperature up.

Adjusting Vents for Hot and Fast

For fast cooking, you need higher temperatures. The process is similar to low and slow, except this time, you'll open the bottom vent around halfway. The top vent will also be open more in order to maintain the higher temperatures. In many cases, like when you are quickly cooking fish on indirect heat, the top vent will be completely open.

Not only does the ConvEGGtor allow you to use the indirect cooking process for fast and hot without exposing your proteins to flames, the ceramics hold heat, making it even easier to maintain those low and slow cooks.

How Cold is too Cold for Big Green Egg?

One of the truly awesome things about using the Big Green Egg with the ConvEGGtor plate is that you can run it as cold as you can get it. One of our tricks for smoking cheese and salt is to light just one medium-sized piece of lump charcoal and place it in the firebox with nothing else. The Big Green Egg indirect heat from the ConvEGGtor keeps temperatures low enough to add smoke flavor but not to melt the cheese or salt.

How Hot is too Hot for Big Green Egg?

The Big Green Egg is capable of achieving furnace-like temperatures up to about 850 degrees. Now, there is really no reason to ever get one that hot, but one of the neat tricks you can use the ConvEGGtor for is baking pizza indirectly. It's pretty easy to maintain a 450 to 500-degree temperature with the ConvEGGtor in place which makes for the perfect pizza oven.

When Should I Use the ConvEGGtor?

The ConvEGGtor is an incredibly versatile accessory that significantly adds to the ways you can use your Big Green Egg, but it isn't the right accessory for everything. With that said, the only time we ever take ours out is when we are searing meat over open flames.

One of our personal favorite things to make with the ConvEGGtor is pulled pork. The smoky flavor from hardwood lump charcoal and the tender, juicy Boston pork butt roast combine in perfection on the Egg. The unique way the design of the lid and top vent function encourages swirling smoke, perfect to infuse tons of flavor with. Cook pork butt at 225 degrees to an internal temp of 170 degrees, then wrap it in butcher paper until it reaches 203 degrees for the best results.

Smoking fish is a uniquely challenging process that is simply easier in an Egg with the ConvEGGtor in place. It provides a heat barrier that prevents the fish from cooking while allowing the smoke to penetrate the meat. When smoking fish, you'll want a temperature that is fairly low. Shoot for a smoker temperature of less than 150 degrees and smoke fish for about two hours. Then, increase the temp to 200 and cook the fish until it is 165 degrees all the way through.

It is also possible to use a Big Green Egg for cold smoking, though you'll need a day with low ambient temperatures. The goal of cold smoking is to introduce as little heat as possible while allowing lots of smoke to accumulate. You can use wood chips to generate smoke with very low heat, but it will require that you find ways to add chips as you go. Too many will create too much heat and you'll cook the fish instead of smoke it. Cold smoking can take 12 hours or longer depending on the thickness of the fish.

A trick that some people use to cold smoke uses either two Big Green Eggs or a cardboard box. Smoke is generated in one Egg which has a flexible dryer vent hose attached to the top vent that empties into the other Egg or the box. The smoke chamber will remain at ambient temperature but will fill with smoke.

Indirect Cooking Tips

Indirect cooking is a slippery slope that ends up with you randomly buying large, fatty hunks of meat at the butcher because you want to try out a new type of wood or a different seasoning blend. Seriously, it's addictive. There are a few things you can do to get the most out of your indirect cooking experiences.

The most important thing is that you get a reliable instant-read thermometer. A meat probe thermometer is also a great way to keep an eye on the internal temp of your meat, and the thermometer on the lid should be checked for accuracy. These few things separate success from worry and fret more than anything else and make the long hours of smoking much more enjoyable.

Choose high-quality lump charcoal. Lump burns slower and more evenly than briquettes and provides the correct flavor of smoke for slow cooking. Some good brands include Rockwood, Blues Hog, and Jealous Devil. You can also use chunks of wood, wood chips, or pellets in a Big Green Egg to add variety to your flavors.

Practice using the top and bottom vents to maintain stable temperatures in different conditions. Even though the ceramic body of the Egg is very heavy-duty, the air temperature and humidity level can have a big effect on the amount of air and exhaust you'll need to get the right temp.

Make Indirect Cooking Super Easy

Indirect cooking on a Big Green Egg is easy when you use the ConvEGGtor plate setter. It blocks the direct flames from the fire while allowing an even smoke layer to add delicious flavor to meats, cheeses, and vegetables. The ConvEGGtor opens up the ability to use very low temperatures for smoking cheese and can even help you cold smoke under ideal conditions.

We think that the ConvEGGtor is one of the most essential of all accessories for cooking on an Egg. They are available for all the different sizes and styles. The heavy-duty construction is durable, withstands the heat of the Egg, and cleans up easily.