COLUMN: Upgrades and improvements for backyard cooking

Sensei Jeff removes the gasket from the top portion of Bruce’s Big Green Egg. After a refit, the Egg is ready for summer sizzling.

My Big Green Egg went to the orthodontist recently, and it lost its under bite.

The Egg, over the past year and a bit, developed the under bite as the hinges got out of whack on the ceramic cooker.

You are supposed to tighten the bands on Big Green Eggs every couple of months or so. Mine began eight years ago in perfect alignment for the top and bottom. I kept up the maintenance on the bands as specified. Let me tell you, it’s not easy cranking the nuts down with a wrench to the point the bolt bends, and then cranking it down every two months.

That’s putting a lot of pressure on that ceramic. The manufacturer says it’s fine, but as an owner, you fear that going too far will break the Egg.

However, I let my bands get too loose once, repositioned to the best of my ability, only to see the problems spread on the Egg.

I must say, I love the Big Green Egg for barbecuing, smoking and oven-like cooking. We’ve done everything from pulled pork and brisket to steak and chicken, to pizza, bread and cookies on the unit. But the weakest link on the Egg was its bands and hinges.

These Eggs are made of ceramic and they are heavy. An opened lid can put a lot of pressure on that hinge.

And for me, my hinge got out of alignment. Despite my best effort, and even with the help of Sensei Jeff, we couldn’t get it lined up correctly. As a result, it slowly developed an under bite and would not close properly. I’d do a prime rib or smoke some pulled pork on the unit, and we’d see smoke and steam escaping out of the side of the unit where the top met the bottom.

I went called up Tyler at Dam Home Hardware in May to order a replacement hinge, as well as a few other items that wore out over the eight years of running the Egg, including a new gasket. The hinge, it turned out, was on back order.

But it came in this month, and Sensei Jeff hopped over recently to help (do all the work).

All it took was the sampling of Yuengling, the nectar of the gods (from the oldest independent brewery in the United States) to woo him over to offer guidance.

We strapped down the old hinge (strong springs can be dangerous) and removed it. I pulled off the gasket from the lip of the bottom of the unit while Jeff handled the top. Then we switched to clean off the glue.

Smart Sensei saw there was less glue on the lower half. So he had that cleaned up and was applying the new gasket while I still worked on the upper lip.

I must say, Jeff is a smart lad. He brought over an old plastic canister garbage can as the stand for the top half of the Egg. We flipped the top over and it nestled in there nicely.

So I took a blade to the top to scrape off the glue, followed by acetone and a plastic scrubber, and in no time it was ready for the new gasket.

Sensei Jeff in the meantime had the new hinge/band unit in place. We placed the top back where it belonged, with no under bite and a perfect seal, used the provided spacers, and carefully tightened everything down.

It works great! The hinges are now over to the side of the Egg at the back rather than right at the very back. It’s a much-improved concept that is much less likely to come out of alignment.

Just as the heat of summer hits, we’re ready to cook outdoors on a nightly basis.


Sipping at The Barn

And what goes well with barbecuing? Local craft beer! The family made the trek recently to Red Barn on a beautiful day, enjoying the breeze, flights of tasty beer, and some delicious hot pretzels. The combination is ridiculous.

It was our daughter Brenna’s first trip there, and I am pretty sure it won’t be her last. She is a big fan of sour beer and enjoyed a sampling in her flight of four four-ounce glasses.

Mary Beth, my better half, opted for a mix of sours for the most part as well, while I tried a variety of beverages that tickled the taste buds in so many ways.

I have recently taken a liking to sour beer as well. It was something I’ve stayed away from for the most part. In fact, I wasn’t a fan of many of the fruit-infused offerings.

But my palate is changing, apparently. I still am not a fan of high-bitter IPAs or wheat beer, and I doubt that will ever change.


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