When you think of cooking in the backyard, what comes to mind? A charcoal grill? A gas grill? How about a big, honkin’ BBQ offset smoker? All three are well known grilling systems, but there is another – ceramic – and you may be surprised at how effective it can be.
Actually, ceramic cooking is not new. Clay pots were used for food and cooking over 2,000 years ago in Europe, some 3,000 years ago in China, and even 4,000 years ago in India. In India and neighboring countries, this style of cooking evolved into the tandoor oven, which uses charcoal or wood to achieve cooking temperatures as hot as 900°F. The tandoor is still a popular cooking utensil throughout Southeast Asia, and you see it manifested in a growing list of popular foods in America, most notably naan flatbreads and various kabobs.
By around 300 AD, the Japanese incorporated some of the Chinese influences with its “mushikamado” cooker. (“Mushi” meaning “steam,” and “kamado” meaning “oven” or “kiln.”) Obviously, it evolved differently than the tandoor, but it retained similar attributes: earthen clay formed into a vessel of some sort then used with wood or charcoal to produce extreme heat for cooking.
At the end of WWII, American servicemen noticed the Japanese people using the “kamado” cooker, and they became so enamored with it that they started bringing it home to the United States. One of these early ceramic fans was Ed Fisher, who started the Big Green Egg (BGE) Company in the early 1970s in Georgia.
Since then, design improvements have made the BGE one of the most versatile cooking systems in or out of the kitchen. Instead of earthen clay, BGE now uses high fiber ceramics similar to those used on the Space Shuttle tiles, which in turn allows for temperatures of up to 1,200 °F. By using various accessory pieces, you can do a host of cooking on it: grilling, roasting, slow roasting, baking, and smoking. You can use radiant (direct) or convective (indirect) heat; either way, moisture retention is simply first-rate. As we like to say at Jeff’s Backyard, “you can cook anything from briskets to biscuits” on this thing!
Come to Jeff’s Backyard to check out your Big Green Egg. Before long, you’ll be an Egghead, too!