The Ultimate Guide to Low and Slow Cooking

The Big Green Egg outdoor cooker is a beast of a machine with a multitude of uses. Award-winning chefs and restaurants employ them as do backyard braaiers who love the Egg for its versatility. Low and Slow cooking is a firm favourite as we start heading into slightly cooler weather. One of the main differences between the EGG and any other kamado style cooker, is the unmatched heat retention of our patented ceramics. Many other cookers require a top-up of charcoal mid-way through or the temperature simply won’t stay put.

Here are our top tips for getting it right:

  1. Don’t settle for any inferior cooker that promises to give you the same results as an Egg. That’s the battle already half-won!
  2. Source your ingredients from a trusted supplier. In Joburg, we love Jackson’s Real Food Market and Braeside Meat Market. Son of a Butcher in Newlands, Cape Town, stands out as do the passionate guys at Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants in Woodstock. In Durban, head to Old Town Italy’s butchery or Hope Meat Supplies. They’ll all be able to give you expert advice on what’s right to cook low and slow, although most meat cuts that are cooked this way are pretty forgiving.
  3. Generally, cuts like brisket, short ribs, pork shoulder and pork belly appreciate a bit of slow and low love. Venison would also be good.
  4. Set your EGG up good and proper: The Egg’s technology is centred around adequate airflow. Want high heat? Crank open the vents. Want to turn the temperature down? Close the vents until you reach the desired temperature. The Kryptonite of airflow is blocked air vents. If you use Big Green Egg All Natural Lump Charcoal, the coal is nice and big and won’t easily clog your air vents. Many EGGheads swear by the bucket system, especially when setting up for low and slow cooking. 3 buckets are placed by the EGG. One is used for fresh large lump which generally goes at the bottom on top of the fire grate (to prevent ash build up during a long cook). The second is for used lump that can still give you some flavour when cooking for a few hours and which you’ll want to place on top of the new lump. The last bucket is for ash which you definitely want to remove before a low and slow session. If you’re using smoking chunks like our Apple, Mesquite or Hickory wood chunks, place a few strategically in the firebox. If you have only wood chips (think Jack Daniels or Cherry chips) at hand, scatter them in layers throughout your coal so as to maximise the smoking effect throughout the entire cooking process. To soak or not soak the wood before placing it in the cooker is quite a divisive issue – we’d love to hear from you if you do or don’t and why?
  5. The Egg is designed to allow lit charcoal in the centre to gradually light the surrounding coal and wood spreading to the periphery. A single load of charcoal can give you up to 16 hours of heat and smoke.
  6. Low and slow cooking requires a convEGGtor in the legs up position with the grid on top. Some Egg owners cover the base of the convEGGtor with aluminium foil to prevent drippings staining the ceramic. Alternatively, place a drip pan on top of the convEGGtor.
  7. A water pan on top of an indirect barrier such as the convEGGtor is really unnecessary in an Egg; your brisket will be ultra-juicy, we promise! This does come down to personal preference, however.
  8. While waiting for the Egg to come to temperature, let the meat come to room temperature. Placing a cold piece of meat straight on the grid will drop the dome temperature.
  9. How do you know it’s time to put the meat in the Egg? Initial smoke coming from the dual function metal top will be white; this is not the time! Blue smoke is good smoke, so once a thin blue stream of smoke comes out the top of the Egg, pop the meat in.
  10. If you have a Dual Probe Remote Thermometer, this Big Green Egg accessory comes in very handy during low temperature cooking. Simply set up the thermometer and walk away. It stays within range up to 90m away from the EGG and will alert you when the ambient temperature falls outside your settings as well as when the desired internal temperature of the meat has been reached.
  11. An insider’s tip from Big Green Egg UK: “If using a dual probe remote thermometer you will notice that the internal temperature of the meat slowly rises and then apparently plateaus or even falls by a few degrees. This is not the EGG needing more oxygen or fuel, this is the science of low and slow happening as collagen starts to break down and turn to gelatin. An enormous amount of energy is required to enable this process and so the temperature of the meat stops increasing whilst the chemical reactions take place. Do not adjust the temperature of your EGG. You should not try to speed up this process with more heat. Once the majority of the tissues have been rendered to gelatin the temperature will begin to climb again.”
  12. For melt-in-your mouth pork, the digital thermometer should read between 85°C and 91°C when inserted into the meat and the bone should pull out clean with not a scrap of meat still attached.
  13. For pulled pork, invest in a pair of Stainless Steel Meat Claws for the easiest shredding of meat ever!  
  14. If you haven’t already done so, go ahead and register on the EGGhead Forum. Our online community of passionate EGG owners share advice, personal experiences, tips and tricks with their Egg. You’ll find quite a bit of assistance for low and slow cooking there.

 

 

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Remember, the above points are merely guidelines to get you started. Have fun as you find what works for you!

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