This summer, my husband got a new best friend. Happily, he’s not like that other guy he ran around with for a while whose wife would only eat chicken teriyaki at the sushi restaurant. Nope, this one’s a foodie. He’s big and green, has dimples all over him and is in the perfect shape of an egg. Can you guess what he is?
It was tricky, readers, but you got it: It’s the Big Green Egg. And we love him.
For those of you yet to be introduced, this contraption is basically a souped up version of those orange, round Weber grills. BGE, though, is made of ceramic and can get to a whopping 700˚F (woof, woof).
His major attraction to me was his fuel is lump charcoal, not gas, so, unlike a gas grill, he actually imparts a smoky, woody barbecue flavor. My husband William was sold after he tried a steak cooked on one at his friend’s house.
So for Christmas, I got everything set up so the Egg would arrive on Dec. 23. My hope was to have it placed on the deck without William noticing and then unveil it on Christmas morning. But on Dec. 23 I noticed the Cumberland Appliance truck pulling into the driveway opposite ours and had to fly out the door to make sure they didn’t lay the 100-plus pound monster on someone else’s deck. After that, William was kind of on to me.
So BGE proudly sat for the winter in his little cover, looking rather adorable with a layer of snow on him. But then the weather warmed and he continued to sit there. And the longer he sat, the more intimidating he got. How complicated was he to light? How long did he take to warm up? Did we really want to tackle this on a Tuesday?
Since I’ve moved to Kentucky, there’s also been the issue of William’s grilling technique. Apparently there was a time when he was spot on with the barbecue, turning out perfect steaks, succulent chicken, juicy veggies, every time.
That time was before I moved here.
Since, after almost every meal he’s grilled, William takes just one bite and shakes his head, dissatisfied that he hasn’t re-obtained the grilling moxie he once possessed.
As for me taking over? Nope, not going to happen. Part of the problem there is my stepdad Peter, nee: country of Australia, is an expert at the barbie, so good he knows how well the meat is cooked simply by pressing down on it with his tongs.
If you will, think of that for a second: so good he only needs to touch the food with a long, metal object to know if it’s medium rare. That’s not prowess, that’s magic.
My dad also loved to barbecue, so much so he designed and welded a huge grill together one weekend at his uncle’s farm. He spent long hours outside with that contraption, cooking everything he could think of out there: pancakes on a griddle, soup in a huge pot, corn and beans in cans, you name it.
The only problem was that homemade barbecue was extremely temperamental. During one meal in particular, he sat down for dinner with his eyebrows completely singed off and his nose a bright red. But, true to form for my dad, he said absolutely nothing about it, so irritated was he by his gaff he was unwilling to acknowledge he had second-degree burns on his face.
It wasn’t until my mom noticed his skin weeping that she shrieked into her napkin and asked if he was OK. As a result, explosions also make me somewhat wary of getting too close to grills.
Anyway, finally one Sunday night a few weeks ago, everything was in line for the BGE to hatch: We had plenty of time before dinner, grilled chicken was on the menu and it was warm and clear outside. I handed William the Green Egg manual and, expecting this to take at least an hour of research, headed back to the garden. But 10 minutes later, he was outside pouring charcoal into the vessel.
At 6 o’clock, I watched him fire it up. Thinking this sucker was going to take at least an hour to heat, we headed to the porch for happy hour. But 20 minutes later, the Egg was at 450 degrees and there was a fragrant, glowing fire in its pit. William put on his apron — William Baker, Master of the Grill, it says — and headed staunchly outside like he was about to meet his maker.
I watched William put the chicken skewers on the barbecue. You could see he was trying to forge a new relationship with this beast, wanting badly to shed the past 10 years of mediocre grilling and start afresh.
He adjusted blowholes and screens, opened and closed the lid, walked around BGE a few times for good measure, rotated meat, hunted for hot spots. I sat on the deck listening to the crackling fire and realized just how long it had been since I’d heard that sound.
And what emerged? Absolutely perfect chicken. Smoky, tender, a dream. Now, nearly every night William and BGE are outside hanging out together. And I’m loving every bite.