|Barbecuing with a Ceramic Charcoal Cooker
The ceramic charcoal cooker is one of the most popular
and versatile barbecue tools around. Descended from the
"Kamada" clay style of cooking, there are several brands to
choose from; the Big Green Egg may be the most well known
Ceramic cookers offer some incredibly nice features for
cooking some great meals:
Temperature Range - these cookers can slow cook at 200
degrees or crank up to searing heat at 800 degrees, giving an
incredible range of things you can cook easily with one device.
Temperature Hold - with a little practice and patience you
learn to set your cooking temperature on a ceramic cooker by
adjusting the airflow through it. Once you have arrived at your
desired temperature the typical ceramic cooker is great at
maintaining that temperature for extended periods of time.
I distinctly remember a friend of mine who has a BGE getting
caught away from his Boston butts for an extended period of
time. He was having a big get together that night, and while
out getting many of the other preparations set, he ran into
some problems and was unexpectedly gone for five hours
instead of the one or one and a half that he had been
expecting. Rather than calling me to check on things he
worried the whole time that he would have 30 people at his
house shortly after getting home and nothing to feed them but
some raw pork. Of course you know where this is heading -
when he finally got home his BGE was cruising right along, on
the job at 225 degrees and I can personally vouch for how
good the pulled pork was.
Lighting - most people (including us!) advise you to use only
lump charcoal in a ceramic charcoal cooker. Lump charcoal
is easier to light in general, and when combined with the
physics of this type of cooker, and using some type of lighter,
you can be ready to cook in minutes.
Efficiency - These cookers can be loaded with lump charcoal
and not have to be touched for hours - and we mean a lot of
hours - like 24 or more! - while maintaining a nice even
cooking temperature. Not planning on cooking for 24 hours?
not a big worry, when you do finish, if you adequately shut off
the air supply to the cooker, it effectively snuffs out the fire,
leaving the unburned charcoal ready to use the next time.
Weather resistant - unlike a smoker, these units do not have
exposed metal sides that can rust if not properly fitted with a
cover from the elements.
Versatility - with the right kinds of accessories the ceramic
cooker can be used to cook a number of different ways. We
already talked about how it can go from a grill to a smoker. It
can also effectively be used to bake things like pizza or bread.
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