Picking the Grill that’s Right for YOU

MY GRILL

bkgrill

My love for the BGE stemmed from a short stint where I lived with my brother-in-law and sister. They had recently bought a house, and I needed to save money to buy my own. When moving in, the previous home-owners left their Big Green Egg on their back deck for fear that moving it would break it all together. It was an original 1970’s BGE that was pure ceramic (before they added the fiberglass alloy for stability and longevity). Needless to say, it was very brittle.

We probably didn’t touch it for several months, until my brother-in-law decided to give it a test run. We were immediately hooked. Everything that came off of that grill was SUPER moist and tender. At that point, I knew I was an Egghead. When I finally moved out and bought my own house, I immediately purchased my own. I’ve never looked back… The irony of this story is that the original BGE at my Brother-in-Law’s house bit the dust the same week I got mine (it literally cracked in half). My sister surprised my b-in-law by purchasing him a replacement.

“That’s Great…but what should I get!?”

As for making a decision on a grill that’s right for you… Asking me that… is like asking Paula Dean if you should buy butter. Having said that… I’ll now answer the question. Yes, I do love my BGE…I use it about twice a week…and if it broke tomorrow, I would go out and buy a new one in the same day. I will probably be a blind loyalist to the Egg community for the rest of my days… and it has literally replaced our oven and stove as far as how we cook at home. I’d even venture to say that our recent deck remodel was 75% because we wanted to spend more time with our Egg. But Eggs are not for everyone (and I’m a little crazy about mine).

THE BIG GREEN EGG

First and foremost… they aren’t for people who have limited time or only grill burgers and steaks. It takes 40-45 minutes to heat the Egg warm enough to cook small meats quickly. This means that you have to plan out an hour of cooking for Chicken, Steak, Burgers, Hot Dogs, Shrimp, etc. The beauty of the egg is when you do low-and-slow cooks. If you want to get into Pulled Pork, Ribs, Turkey, Ham, Wings, etc…and cook any one of those once a month… then it’s probably worth it to get the BGE. I try to cook on mine twice a week…with a low and slow every other week. I’m just trying to improve my cost-per-use ratio :)

Second… they are high maintenance. No, you won’t have to clean it (I’ve only cleaned mine twice ever)… not that type of high maintenance… but they are high maintenance during the cook. You’ll need to have patience the first few times you cook to figure out how to control the temperatures. It isn’t hard…and there is no real secret… it just takes a little practice.

Finally… the cost. BGE’s (and their eggcessories) are expensive. It’s definitely a commitment. You can find them on sale for $650… and you’ll need to buy a grill grate grabber and ash tool at a minimum. So you could be out $750 by the time it’s all said and done. Having said that… they do have a lifetime warranty, and they last forever. There are also ways to cut corners on the small things. For example… the BGE requires natural lump charcoal (no lighter fluid). BGE sells branded charcoal at $20 per bag. What they don’t want you to know is that the natural lump charcoal at Publix (Publix brand) comes from the same distributor at only $5 per bag. But this is all stuff that can help mitigate those costs.

As for size… I’d recommend the Large. The Large is their original size. The XL is MUCH more expensive… and the medium is only around $150 less and cannot fit a whole turkey in it.

If the BGE is too rich for your blood… there are a plethora of other quality grills out there… Below I have listed a summary about all types of grills and smokers to help with your decision making process:

KAMADO SMOKERS

If you think you will want to slow smoke large meats…but still have the versatility to grill burgers, steaks, chicken, shrimp, veggies, etc… then a Kamado Smoker is for you. This is what a BGE is, and it allows the grill-master the ability to heat the grill up to temperatures as high as 650 degrees for searing… or as low as 180 degrees for a low-and-slow.

Pros: Versatility, Temperature Control, Flavor, Moisture, Durability

Cons: Less Grill Grate Space, Expensive, Use of Wood Chips rather than Wood Logs

The Skinny:

  • Big Green Egg – Can be purchased at any Ace hardware, online, or directly from BGE (located in Lawrenceville, GA). – http://www.biggreenegg.com/ Prices vary based on size… but I’d recommend the Large ($650-$750). The Medium is ~$500…the Extra Large is ~$850-$1000…and the small and mini will be too small.
  • Kamado Joe – These are slightly pricier…but the original Japanese design that BGE was inspired from http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=12621861&cagpspn=pla
  • Weber Smokey Mountain (~$399) – These can also be found at ACE…but they sit a little closer to the ground, and are harder to grill small meats on. They are still good for low-and-slow big meats, though… http://www.acehardware.com/product/index.jsp?productId=3332022&cagpspn=pla
  • Bubba Keg Big Steel Grill (~$799… but can be found online for $679 with free shipping)… This is almost as good as the BGE and Kamado Joe… only caveat… this is made of Steel. This can be troubling for a few reasons. First and foremost… the Ceramic compound found in BGE and Kamado Joe will “cure” over time to give your meat a very distinct flavor. The Bubba Keg’s Steel obviously will not absorb smoke and flavor. Additionally… the Steel will be hotter to touch… so you could accidentally burn yourself if you lean against a hot grill.

So those are just the Kamado style smokers that I know about… but here is a list of comparable smokers with rankings found here: http://bbq.about.com/od/charcoalgrills/tp/Top-10-Kamado-Grills.htm

BARREL SMOKERS

If you are more of a Rib Cooker… and prefer to cook in the 300-400 temperature range, a Barrel Smoker may be for you.

Pros: Largest Grilling Surface, Use of Wood Logs, Inexpensive

Cons: Poor temperature control, high maintenance during cook, Indirect Heat makes it difficult to cook steaks and burgers.

The Skinny:

  • So these can be expensive… look at these search results from Lowe’s: Click Here
  • Or they can be inexpensive… like this $159 Masterbuilt from Sears: Click Here
  • The only one that I know is HIGHLY regarded…is the Traeger. This smoker uses wood pellets and is known as one of the better options on the market when it comes to strictly smoking meats. These run about $699 at ACE: Click Here

The fact of the matter is that they all pretty much do the same thing…but you get what you pay for in price. I know some people that have had the same barrel smoker for 20+ years… and I know others where the grill was pretty much rusted through and rotting after only a few years. Either way… you probably need to protect your metal smoker with a decent grill cover.

CHARCOAL GRILLS

If you aren’t into doing any large meats… or anything low-and-slow…then maybe a Charcoal Grill can do the job.

Pros: Quick to start, simple for burgers and steaks

Cons: Can overheat, small cooking surface, messy, not ideal for smoking

The Skinny:

I could make a bunch of suggestions here… but everyone knows somebody with a 30+ year old Weber Grill…and there’s a reason… they’re made to last. At only $99 at Lowes… the price really can’t be beat: Click Here

GAS GRILLS

OK… so a lot of negative press here… and admittedly, I’m not a fan either… but it does make sense for A LOT of people.

Pros: Larger grilling surface, Quickest to Start, easiest for burgers and steaks.

Cons: Difficult to clean, Cannot do a Low-and-Slow, Cannot smoke (unless you use a smoke box), Flavor…some can taste the gas…others can’t. I can’t taste the gas on Steak and Burgers…but I can taste it on white meat and veggies. Everyone is different here.

The Skinny:

These are so popular… they’re kind of all over the place in pricing. Remember… you get what you pay for. I once had a $99 gas grill that I only used once because it was that bad (two settings: raw or burnt). Try to stick in the $300-$500 range and you should have a decent grill here. If you have a gas line near where the grill is… I DEFINITELY recommend using the natural gas over a propane tank. Natural gas has less of a flavor than propane does… and I always feel safer with the gas line rather than a propane tank sitting directly under the grill.

IN CONCLUSION

So that concludes my personal take on grills.  As you can see, grills should be chosen on personal preference.  Please feel free to ask me any questions that you may have about the BGE or any other grill…and Obviously… I’ll be able to share some tips and pointers as you begin your journey Good Luck, and Happy Grilling!

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