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The Eagle’s Choice

The number one key to success while smoking, baking and grilling is having a cooking system that you enjoy using and are comfortable with. I love every smoker and grill out there! One of my favorites is the Big Green Egg. The Big Green Egg is a ceramic cooker that is a relative of the old “komodo” smoker. The versatility of the Big Green Egg is incredible. It is a smoker, grill and oven. I smoke large cuts of meat low and slow for 16 plus hours, use it to sear steaks at 700 degrees, and I use it to bake pizzas and bread. You name it and you can cook it on the Big Green Egg. I personally have three of them that I cook on (XL, Large and Small). I also have a Horizon old fashioned steel "stick burner" off set smoker that I really enjoy cooking on "old school style". It is a 24" inch beast that my brother trailer mounted for me. The trailer has a wood rack and dual propane burners. I use this rig to smoke for large crowds. There are many great smokers and grills out there to choose from. Many specialty BBQ stores have regular demonstrations using various types of grills and smokers. Some smokers are very easy to use and to maintain heat. These include electric and pellet smokers. Others like the Big Green Egg are also very easy to maintain temperatures but do require time and experience to get use to.  Old fashioned "stick burner" steel smokers definitely require some time and patience to maintain temperatures for low and slow cooks. I feel like this is real BBQ though and the time spent is always fun and worth it! If you plan on purchasing a old fashioned type off set "stick burner" steel smoker, I would highly recommend buying one that is at least 1/4" thick steel. You will not find these at the big hardware or chain stores. The ones at these stores are very thin and you will struggle maintaining temps. 1/4" steel smokers will last you a lifetime and for many generations to come. These smokers will be carried at your local BBQ specialty store. Companies like Horizon and Yoder make great old fashioned smokers. These smokers will definitely cost more but are well worth it. The old saying "you get what you pay for" definitely applies to steel smokers. Spend some time at your local BBQ specialty store and ask a lot of questions! The main thing – have fun! Feel free to email me anytime with questions:


 Tips and Terms

Here are some tips and terms about smoking, grilling and baking:


  • Direct Cook – This means cooking directly over your heat source. Grilling is a form of direct cooking.
  • Indirect Cook – This means cooking slightly away from the heat source. In a traditional smoker the heat is pushed through the cooking area from the fire pit. The fire pit is where the wood and coal is burnt. On my Big Green Eggs the heat is distributed around the meat by a ceramic plate that separates the fire from the cooking area. Indirect cooks usually involve cooking large cuts of meats for extended periods of time at low temperatures such as 200 to 250 degrees. On a typical gas grill, indirect cooking can be done simply by only using one of your burners. Do your indirect cooking over the burner that is off. On a typical charcoal grill you can make a mound of coal on one side of your grill and cook the meat on the other side with no heat under it. This can be hard to control the heat if using traditional briquettes.
  • Woods for smoking – There are numerous woods to smoke with. I prefer oak, mesquite, pecan, hickory and apple for all of my cooks. Mesquite and pecan are a neutral smoking wood that provides great flavor on beef, pork and chicken. Apple wood is my all time favorite for all poultry. It adds a great flavor to whole turkeys and chickens. Just try all of the different woods and find your favorite!
  • Lump charcoal – This is my favorite type of “fuel” and the only one I use in my Big Green Eggs. Lump charcoal is all natural wood, usually hickory or oak. It is simply, burnt wood. Lump charcoal is great for slow cooks and lasts a long time. It also has the capability to reach very high temperatures for searing. You can easily raise and lower your temperature with lump charcoal. One of the best things about it is after you extinguish your fire by closing all of the draft doors; you can reuse it the next time you cook. This can save a lot of money if you cook outdoors a lot! You also do not use lighter fluid to light it. Instead a fire starter stick or electric lighter is used.
  • Briquette charcoal – This is traditional charcoal used in many grills. You add lighter fluid to start it. It is man made. You get one cook from it. It is very hard to do indirect slow cooks with briquettes since it burns away pretty fast and controlling your heat is tough. It does work well for grilling. I am not against briquettes, I just prefer lump.




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