Graham Neilson

neislonGraham Neilson, chef and owner of  9th Avenue Bistro in Durban, has had his eye on a Big Green Egg for a while.  Now that he has one, he wouldn’t part with it.

How long have you had your Big Green Egg?

I’ve only had it a couple of months but I’ve been using it every day.  I have a pork belly dish on my menu and I cook that, at home on my Egg every day.  I brine the pork belly and attached ribs for about 12 hours and then slow cook them on the Egg for 8 hours, spritzing them occasionally with a soy, ginger and apple mixture.  I’m using it both for the restaurant and for home.

What are you cooking at home?

I’ve been cooking everything from steaks and ribs to chicken and vegetables.  I’ve also been making quite a few pizzas.  My latest favourite is a fig, bacon and gorgonzola pizza which turns out beautifully.

Have you found the Egg easy to use?

It’s very easy to use but I would recommend going onto the Big Green Egg web site and reading the tips first.  Once you’ve done that, you should have no problems.

Any plans to incorporate the Egg into your restaurant kitchen?

 Ultimately, that is my goal but I’ll have to reconfigure my kitchen and make some space. The Big Green Egg will be getting an outing to my restaurant on 8th April when I’m doing a Big Green Egg demo evening.

What’s on the demo menu?

 I’m cooking rabbit which is something I often offer in my restaurant and it’s very popular.  We’ll be slow roasting the legs and using the meat in a fresh tortilla with a little salsa and mayo.  Then we’ll be raising the temperature and cooking the loin, stuffed with liver and mushrooms.

What’s been your most surprising Egg experience?

 I’ve never been disappointed by anything cooked in the Big Green Egg but my biggest surprise was how well it roasted chicken.  I had some excellent truffle butter from Abruzzo in Umhlanga so I put that under the skin of a chicken, rubbed it with some herb salsa and slow roasted it for two hours.  You wouldn’t believe how tender and that chicken was.  Usually you can’t roast a chicken that long without it becoming dry but the Egg had retained all of the juices of the chicken – delicious!

Another surprising thing is how little charcoal I’ve been using.  When I got the Egg, I bought 8 bags of charcoal.  I’ve still got 4 left and that’s after two months of daily use.  It is amazingly economical compared to gas or electricity, and with the recent load shedding, being able to cook on the Egg has helped to save on my generator costs too.

What’s next on the Big Green Egg menu?

I’d like to get some more accessories for the Egg and continue experimenting with different dishes and cooking methods.  I haven’t baked anything on my Egg yet and that’s something I definitely want to try.