Enter the DigiQ
"Digit Kit Green with 6’ Probes, Pit Viper Fan, and Ceramic Adaptor"
As I have mentioned before, I love grilling. I have several articles on grilling in this blog and my favorite grilling machine is the Big Green Egg.
One of my favorite things about the Big Green Egg is the fact that you can cook "low n' slow" overnight and have a really great meal the next day or over several days. However, that process, at least for me, has a certain paranoia involved because the temperature can go down too low or get up too high and require some adjustments to made in the middle of the night.
Enter the DigiQ
So, after several years of interrupted sleep, I finally scraped together enough money (~$230 with tax) to buy a solution to my sleepless nights. The BBQ Guru sells the DigiQ by itself or as part of a one package solution. I went with the one package solution that includes the following:
"Digit Kit Green with 6’ Probes, Pit Viper Fan, and Ceramic Adaptor"
The DigiQ DX2
The DigiQ DX2 is the brains of the outfit. It has a Power port, a Blower port, a Pit Probe port, and a Food Probe port.
The LED screen is where the unit shows the information that you need.
While the Digi Q is the brains of the operation, the Pit Viper is the muscle. It has an adjustable plate that makes it easy to slide into the BGE's bottom vent and a small door that controls how much air you want to let in. You can slide the door up and down depending on the type of cooking you are doing. For low and slow, you open it about a third. For cooking faster, you can open it up all the way or somewhere in between.
Putting it all together
I learned the hard way that the Pit temp probe is a critical part of this setup. It tells the DigiQ the temperature of the grill, the DigiQ reads the temperature that you set, and tells the Pit Vipor to turn up or down the "fan" to get the temperature where you want it. Unfortunately, when I first used the setup, I didn't have the probe pushed all the way into the DigiQ, so the temperature was going higher than I wanted. I finally figured it out, but it took the grill a while to get back down to my desired temperature of 220 degrees (F).
Still need a way to see the temperature
While the DigiQ has alarms that you can set that tell you when you are outside of the correct temperature range, they are fairly useless if you are smoking a pork butt or something overnight. Instead, I use an iGrill 2 to monitor the food and grill (though you could also you something like a Maverick). For my first cook, I used the clip at the end of the DigiQ probe to attach to the BGE's thermometer. I then ran the iGrill's pit probe into that same location so that all three temperature gauges were in the same location. I then put an iGrill food probe into the port butt.
I watched the iGrill's temperature on my Apple Watch periodically until bedtime. The grill was rock solid (give or take a degree or two) at my 220 degree temperature until I went to bed. I woke up and everything was still locked in. It was wonderful! I can now go out and buy a brisket and be confident that it will cook perfectly overnight.
I have several posts related to cooking outside and I am always looking for ways to expand on the many ways to cook on the Large Big Green Egg. I saw the Little Griddle Kettle-Q Round Griddle and knew I had to have it.
TIME FOR TESTING
To test the griddle, I started up the grill using the Aura Electric Outdoor Charcoal Lighter (which I prefer to the Big Green Egg version because the handle is longer). Once I had a good fire going, I put the griddle on top of the grill and let it heat up for a while.
All in all, I was very impressed with griddle. It performed like a champ and the results reminded me of the fantastic soul burgers at Earnestine & Hazel's in downtown Memphis that I haven't had for years. The cleanup obviously took more time than just cooking the burgers directly on the grill, but it was easier than cleaning up the kitchen after cooking burgers in the house. I can't wait to try my hand at "Philly Cheese Steak" sandwiches.
NOTE: The Little Griddle maker has a great website with videos and recipes.
In Memphis, we have storms that sneak up on you. One minute, it is a beautiful day for smoking and grilling and the next it is pouring rain.
I have had a couple nights that rain was coming down so hard that I was worried about how much water would get in my Big Green Egg while I was smoking a pork butt. One night, I had to move our patio umbrella to the deck and it was raining so hard that it kept falling over. I had to get cement blocks to hold it down.
I started looking for a solution to this problem and ran across the perfect solution. The SmokeWare SS Vented Chimney Cap for the Big Green Egg is a stainless steel cap for the Egg that prevents water from dripping into the vent holes. The instructions say you should attach the Nomex Chimney Felt to the top of the Egg, but I attached it to the inside of the Cap. This allows the Cap to be easily removed from the Egg so you can use the old Daisy Wheel Cap when you want.
It has rained a couple of times since I bought its and it works great. I would highly recommend it for anyone with an Egg.
I have been wanting to try brisket on the Big Green Egg for a while now. However, I was recently down in Seaside, FL and had the opportunity to try brisket from Barefoot BBQ (one of the Airstreams parker out front) and I was inspired. (The picture above doesn't really express just how big this thing was.)
I live in Memphis and it is a pork town, so finding a brisket requires some work. Luckily, we have Charlie's Meat Market and they were able to find a 13 pound USDA Choice "Packers Brisket" for me. I have never bought a 13 pound pork shoulder, but I do know that it would be a lot cheaper than the $60 I a paid for the brisket!
Once I was ready to prepare the brisket, I slathered it in mustard and Dale's steak Seasoning and coated it in some John Henry's Pecan Rub. I also threw a little bit of Dizzy Dust on to give it a little spice and wrapped it in cling wrap and put it in the fridge for the night. The next day, right before throwing it on the grill, I pumped it up with some Dale's steak Seasoning (injection method), since this was my first brisket and I was afraid of having it dry out on me.
I put it on the grill, fat down, around 7PM at around 205 degrees and let it cook until about 7AM the next morning. I had planned to just cook it on the egg, but the temperature on my BGE thermometer and the Maverick thermometer (remote temperature monitor) were about 80 degrees apart and I wasn't sure which one was correct. I should mention that I actually calibrated both thermometers before the smoke, but I thought this behavior was weird. I decided to pull it off the grill, wrap it in aluminum foil and pour about a half can of Mountain Dew over it. Then, I stuck it in the convection oven (in the house) on a cooking sheet to cook until it reached 205 (this is a method similar to what "TexasBBQRub" suggests).
About 11.5 hours later, the brisket was ready. I should note that their was A LOT of juice that came off the brisket in the oven. So much so that I would recommend using a pan instead of a sheet for finishing off in the oven. By the time I noticed, my cooking sheet was nearly spilling over the side (which it did when I pulled it out to drain it into a bowl). After that first draining, I drained it about once an hour, which made it easier to manage without spilling anything.
One it was ready, I let it sit out for about 30 minutes while wrapped, I then put a small amount of The Shed Southern Spicy Sweet BBQ Sauce over it, and let it sit about 45 minutes unwrapped (we were starving, so we couldn't wait any longer). Unfortunately, I realized that my knife wasn't sharp enough to carve it in "pencil thickness". I had to make slightly wider cuts of the flat, but the meat was juicy and tasty and the bark was fantastic!
The first night, we made sandwiches with it and put on BBQ sauce to taste. I took "the point" and put it on a separate plate. It was very, very juicy, so I mainly cut it into cubes and shredded it away from any fat left on the bottom. I should mention that I didn't carve off a lot of fat before the cook, only huge areas of it where thinned out because I read that it would be easier to remove later. I think this is a personal decision, but you will miss more fat if you try to remove it after the cook. The exchange for cutting it off early could be a dryer brisket, from what I have read, though.
The sandwiches were delicious, but we had a lot left over. I decided to use the point section for making pizzas since it was already cut in small portions and it would be easier to shred and layout over the dough. The next day, I made the dough using the recipe in Cook's Illustrated magazine, but they say you should keep it in the fridge for at least 24 hours, and I made one of the pizzas about 3 hours after I let the dough rise on the counter in a bowl. I did make enough dough for 4 pizzas. The dough for 2 pizzas went in the freezer and the dough for the fourth pizza went in the fridge to make a couple days later.
Once the dough for the first pizza was ready, we put a layer of Shed BBQ down and then put the meat over it:
Then we added a thin layer of parmesan and smoked provolone cheese:
Unfortunately, I didn't do a great job of separating the dough equally, so I ended up with a huge first pizza. It was so huge that the ends hung over the edges of my pizza stone on the Big Green Egg (it would have helped to make it more circular) and left the ends scorched. Also, Cook's suggested letting the stone cook for an hour before adding the pizza and I found that to be too long considering the fact that this pizza needed to be cooked longer than a normal pizza:
The crust was burned on the ends, but the rest of the pizza was awesome.
A couple days later, we made the second pizza. We had taken the juices I poured out of the cooking sheet and put it in a bowl when we first prepared the brisket. We stuck it in the fridge so the fat and juice would separate. We then heated it up for several seconds in the microwave and separated the fat. We took took the juice and sprinkled some of it over the meat after we put together our second pizza. This pizza was smaller and turned out even better than the first.
Between the sandwiches, eating it by itself, and having it with two pizzas, I think we got our money's worth from this meat. Since this was my first try, I am sure there are things I could have done differently and I plan to try some different techniques in the future. We will probably only make it for special occasions since it was so expensive and I would rather not eat brisket all week, if possible. I should mention that my pups were very helpful when it came to finishing it off. If you look closely, you can see one of them waiting for a slice in the pic below:
Everyone is fat and happy, but we are , unfortunately, back on our regular diets now.
I have mentioned my love of the Big Green Egg Ceramic Grill/Smoker, but I wanted to combine it with one of my favorite foods.... PIZZA!
Last Christmas, I received a KitchenAide mixer for Christmas (yeah, I am spoiled) and I mainly wanted it for pizza dough and for shredding the cheese that I would put on pizza. The shredding is done by a Slicer/Shredder accessory and it works perfectly for shredding blocks of cheese. I have included a pic of the mixer I use below. Right above the KitchenAide logo is where the shredder attaches (sorry, I haven't taken a pic of the shredder, but you can see it here.)
I found a recipe for making the dough here and followed it for the most part. It makes two pizzas around 10-12 inches wide. I was actually surprised how easy it was to make the dough, but this recipe works to perfection. I have read other recipes that add a half cup of cornmeal and I may try that down the road for kicks.
Once the dough is ready, we usually add sauce (which I currently buy in a can), shredder mozzarella cheese, mushroom, pepperoni, and black olives. I have tried it with sausage and other toppings, but the above is our basic ingredients.
I have a few accessories that I bought for the pizza making process. The CounterArt Bamboo Pizza Peel. This a nice $13 peel that makes it easy to get the pizza on and off the grill. I usually sprinkle cornmeal on it and use parchment paper cut to the size of the pizza to make it easier to transfer the pizza to the grill. I did not want to spend a lot on a peel, so I guess we will see how it holds up over time. However, it has done the job without a problem. With the Big Green Egg (BGE), I also use a Placesetter (feet down, but a lot of people use feet up). I bought it when I bought the Egg and I think it is a necessity. I also have a Old Stone 16 inch Round Pizza Stone. I have heard about some pizza stones breaking at high temps, but I have had this up over 700 and, so far, have not had any issues. I have used different lump coal, but for pizza, I have used Primo 608 Natural Lump Coal. For the dough, I used half Antimo Caputo Chefs 00 Flour and half regular Gold Medal Flour.
Anyway, it took a while to research most of this stuff, so I thought the links above would help.
Once I got the temperature up to about 650 F, I was ready to put on my first pizza. I took it off after about ten minutes (if the pizza is on parchment paper, I let it cook for about 3 minutes and the slide out from under the pizza), but we found that we like the pizza a bit more crispy, so I left the second pizza on for about 3 more minutes. Below is a pic of the second pizza:
The pizza above was perfect. I found that it is done the way we like it after the edges are a bit burnt. Obviously, people will like a different degree of crispiness, so you would want to try different cooking times.
I have read that cooking on a gas grill will also work, but I haven't tried it. I may try it down the road when I have less time or want to cook something else on the BGE at the same. Now that I got the time down for the crust, I will probably try a few different toppings. I may also just buy a Costco pizza every now and then and cook it instead of using the time consuming, messy process above.
There are a lot of options with pizza, so I plan to try several of them. Please let me know if this article has been helpful or if you have any questions.
The Big Green Egg is one versatile food cooking instrument.
I was trying to figure out a way to add Stir Fry to my outdoor cooking and ran across a site called Ceramic Grill Store.
They make something called a "Spider" that sits inside the Big Green Egg (BGE) and allows a wok to fit inside it.
I ordered their 3 leg Spider (which was the wrong one for my grill (my fault, but it worked okay) and a 16 inch carbon steel wok. The two together were $60 with shipping.
When I got the wok, the weather was horrible, but I finally got a chance to use it today. I seasoned the wok on my gas grill, which took about 35 minutes, then I moved the wok over to the BGE for cooking.
I really like the idea of stir frying outdoors, since that is my favorite place to cook. Even the wrong spider didn't make much difference, but I will probably order the 5 pronged Spider when I get a chance. The beef and veggies turned out great and I would recommend the spider/wok combo for anyone with a BGE.
Last year, I put together a list for my top ten tech. As with last year, my list will consist of some things that have been around longer than this year, but I have now paid enough attention to buy it or to add it to my wishlist.
Canon 5D Mark III - This was my favorite new device in 2012. While there were cameras that came to market with many more megapixels. This camera has better low light performance, faster frames per second, and is just a better all around camera, in my opinion and for my needs. Popular Photography also named it their camera of the year.
Big Green Egg - I have wanted one of these forever and finally got one in 2012. Whether I am making a steak, pizza, smoked turkey, pork butt, etc... The Egg never lets me down.
Black Rapid RS7 (with Carry Speed Mounting Plate) - When I found out that I had a pinched nerve in my neck, I knew I needed to find a way to carry my camera without adding more stress. The black rapid hangs over the shoulder and makes it a lot easier to carry a camera. I also bought the Carry Speed Mounting Plate since it allows a tripod to be attached without removing the strap.
iPad with Retina screen - I bought an iPad 3 earlier this year. The main reason I updated from my Original iPad was the retina screen and LTE. Apple has already updated the iPad to the 4th version and it would be my pick if I did not already own the 3. The retina screen makes text, video and photos much better than the original iPad.
Eye-Fi Pro X2 - Since my camera now has a CF and SD card, I send a RAW file to the CF card and a medium jpeg to the Eye-fi. This allows me to send photos from the Eye-fi to an iPhone/iPad without a computer. I really like this for updating Flickr or other websites when I am on vacation. Since buying it, I usually leave my laptop at home and travel with an iPad only.
Maverick ET732 - These are for remotely watching the temperature on your grill. There are two probes..one for the grill and the other for the food. I used mine all summer and it was nice to be able to keep an eye on things while sitting on the couch.
Geotag Photo Pro app - This is an app that works with an iPhone or Android device that can be used to Geotag photos when you shoot with a camera without a Geotagging feature.
Google Nexus7- While I have never owned a Google device, this had to be on my top ten list this year. It costs $130 less than the iPad mini and has a better screen. While I have no need for this size of a device, it is hard to ignore a tablet that costs less than $200 with the ability to run so many apps. As I mentioned before, if you have a ton of money tied up in Apple apps already, it may make the difference in price more acceptable. Personally, I would get this or wait for Apple to put a better screen on the mini.
Logitech Wireless Speaker Adapter for Bluetooth® audio devices - While I prefer Airplay when I am on a wifi network, sometimes you get outside a network and still want to wirelessly handle audio streaming. I bought one of these for our sunroom and it works great. I simply hooked it up to an amp (t-amp) that feeds a pair of outdoor speakers. Then I paired my iPhone or iPad to it and it worked like a charm.
Weebly web hosting - While I don't know that I have ever mentioned my web host, I thought this would be a good time to do it. It makes setting up a website extremely easy and their customer service is simply fantastic. Before I was on Weebly, I was using a competitor and getting them to help with anything was a waste of time. However, I had an issue this year that I needed help with and Weebly told me the steps I needed to do and they did the rest. (I pay Weebly the same as everyone else with a pro account, so I am not saying this because they pay me).
Of course, there are some things I didn't mention...Photoshop CS6, Lightroom 4, Flipboard app, Splashtop Win8, VM Ware Fusion 5, Phillips Fidelio Airplay speaker, iPhone5, etc.. but there are always cuts that need to be made.
When I got the Big Green Egg, I checked out some of the forums and ran across a couple posts that mention the Maverick ET732. Some of the reviews were mixed, but I decided to take a chance since it seemed to address a real need and was cheaper than some of the alternatives.
As you can see from the picture above, it comes with a transmitter, receiver and two probes (one for food and one for the grill). You simply place the probes in place, shut the grill and monitor the temperature from anywhere within 300 feet. It comes in handy for just about everything I cook on the grill. The ability to monitor the temperature from inside the house when it is over 100 degrees outside is a major upside. I am sure I will be just as impressed in January when it is freezing cold outside.
The ability to see the temperature of the food without opening the grill makes it easier to make sure you pull the food off the grill at the perfect time. I have read that the wires to the probes can burn and ruin them, so I just wrap them in aluminum foil and, so far, I have had no issues. However, they do sell the probes separately, so if you burn them, you can always buy more.
While I can say that my unit is a 5 star product, the inconsistency of the model (see the Amazon reviews) makes it harder to give it a 100 percent recommendation. However, I love mine and would not hesitate to buy another one if it broke.
I finally got a Big Green Egg!!! I have been wanting one for at least 10 years and finally decided to pull the trigger. While I already own a couple Weber grills (gas and kettle style), I decided to go to the next level with something that could cook low and slow or high and fast.
I am sure I will be keeping a gas grill since I will probably want to just throw on some hot dogs now and then, but I am going to start using the Egg exclusively for a while to make sure I get away from the gas grill that has become my best buddy over the last several years.
Dog loving, Big Green Egg worshiping, Tech enthusiast, residing in Memphis, TN. Home of the Tigers, Grizzlies, Elvis, Al Green, Stax, Hi Records, Ardent Studios, Beale Street, Peabody Ducks, etc.. I have also added the Jeep Wrangler to the list of things I am enthusiastic about.
Flickr pics below