Big Green Egg
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The word "mushikamado" means "steam cooker" (from "mushi" meaning "to steam", and "kamado" meaning "cooker, oven, or kiln") The mushikamado was a device designed to steam rice and used by Japanese families for ceremonial occasions and took the shape of a round clay pot with a removable domed clay lid. It featured a top damper and bottom draft door. The mushikamado first came to the attention of the Americans after World War II when US Air Force servicemen would bring them back from Japan in empty transport planes. In the late 1960s manufacturing started in the Americas.
The shape of the Big Green Egg is designed to contain the heat with only a small vent at the top to create a draft to keep the fire going. Today's Big Green Egg is manufactured from high fiber ceramics developed for the Space Shuttle program designed to reflect heat and this allows temperatures of up to 650 °C (1,202 °F) to be reached. The external surface has a high gloss ceramic glaze applied to provide crack and weather resistance.
The Big Green Egg is a charcoal barbecue: the manufacturers recommend lump wood charcoal because alternatives such as charcoal briquettes contain many additives that can contaminate the flavor of the food. The sealed design of the grill results in a slow burn that uses small amounts of charcoal compared to a regular grill, and lump wood charcoal also creates little ash.
Big Green Eggs can be used for smoking or grilling and with the addition of accessories can bake bread or cook a pizza. Big Green Eggs are manufactured in seven sizes with the largest being able to cook 35-40 burgers, 14-16 whole chickens, 18-20 steaks, 20 rib racks, or 1 suckling pig.
In addition to the outer ceramic shell there is draft opening to provide air to the ceramic firebox in the base of the unit. There is a daisy wheel damper unit on the top to give air flow control and therefore temperature regulation. An accessory called a plate setter can be placed above the firebox: this prevents direct cooking of the food when using the unit as a smoker. Between the base and the lid is a gasket made of felt that maximises moisture retention during long cookouts.
Every October there is a global gathering of Eggheads called "EGGtoberfest" that was traditionally held at the company's headquarters in Tucker, GA, starting in the year 1995. In recent years, it has been held at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. The 2008 EGGtoberfest drew 1,500 attendees from all 50 states plus other countries. During EGGtoberfest over 200 Big Green Eggs are used to cook recipes with lots of samples, and interaction from the group. EGGtoberfest 2013 was moved to Stone Mountain Park in Stone Mountain, GA, and will return to the same venue in 2014.
Every August there is also an event that brings together Eggheads in Louisville, KY, called "Eggfest" located at Brownsboro Hardware and Paint, the largest Big Green Egg dealer in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The event first began in 2008 with a total of 12 Big Green Eggs in use. Hosted by Brownsboro Hardware and Paint's owner Jim Lehrer, chairman of the board for Do it Best, the Kentuckiana Eggfest grew more popular every year. As Eggfest became more popular Brownsboro Hardware and Paint started using the event as an effective way to raise money for a local charity. In 2015 the Kentuckiana Eggfest featured 110 Big Green Eggs, and over $16,000 raised in donations for Blessings in a Backpack.
Availability & Pricing
Big Green Egg grills are available worldwide, however they can only be sold by authorized dealers. Most major box store do not carry them, however smaller local hardware and garden stores will carry the grills and accessories. Retail prices range from $399 for the "Mini" to $3,999 for the "XXLarge" and can vary wildly from dealer to dealer. Prices are not often posted online which enables some authorized dealers to command full retail price.
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