To Buy or Not To Buy a BigGreenEgg that is the question?
Welcome to this weeks’ blog,
I know that you thought that this was going to be the last one of the year. However I’ve had to make a change as we extended the competition to win £50 of gift vouchers to use on our web site www.biltong.co.uk and I have to go away this week to see my son graduate after 4 years of hard work at Uni.!!! No really, he has done so well and we are so proud of him, he actually got a 1st, which is fantastic and goes to show that if you spend enough time in those halls of learning called a "Pub" you will succeed LOL.
So this week I have decided to give you a true and extremely honest assessment of the Braai I have been using for this year to cook everything on, warts and all. With the last of the committed braai blogs next week but it will continue on a more casual basis, so don’t leave us. I will be braaiing some new great things and revisiting recipes that I have done over the year and posting updates and improvements where I have made some.
Firstly I should explain that I decided to take on this challenge after hearing about the BigGreenEgg on a blog that I listen to in the US and so I searched them out in the UK and went to look at one. From the moment I saw them I knew that I wanted one, man they look so great and when I was given a demonstration on how they cooked, "I was blown away by them!". I did not start out with the intention of selling them on our web site, I just wanted one to use. I thought that these braai's looked better than anything I had ever seen and on the drive back home, I discussed with Jan what we thought about a braai that cost over a £1000.00 for the XL one.
Well if you’re a South African I’m sure you know how I felt, I had to have one and after talking it through with Jan I came up with the idea of trying to cook on this every week for a year. I had been braaiing on a Gas Braai for some time and before you throw your toys out of the pram, it’s a convenience thing in the UK. It’s not that easy to get good dry wood and charcoal all year round here (you can now from our website) but when I saw how easy it was to light the Egg, "watch the video here" I was sold. That was even before they told me that you don’t have to clean it out every time you use the thing. In fact I only have to empty the ashes, on average, after every 8-10 uses and this is so easy to do from the bottom vent and takes about 2 mins using the tool supplied.
After long negotiations with the BigGreenEgg Company, we decided to become a stockist of these great braai's and I would do this blog. Which, you have kindly decided to follow and I thank you all for your support and comments over the year. After using this braai at least 2-3 times a week over the year (the wettest in the UK for over a 100 Years!) I think that I’m qualified enough to give a true assessment of this product. Just one thing, this is my personal opinion and it doesn’t mean you have to agree with it. Also I’m not beholding to the BigGreenEgg Company in anyway or form and they do not pay me to do this blog. I haven’t done this to improve sales in anyway and this is 100% accurate from my experiences using this braai.
So let’s start at the beginning with the cover:
It’s over £200 to start with and that’s more than some braais cost! However it is made from a heavy-duty plastic coated canvas and fits perfectly with side vents to let it breath. You can see from the photo that it has faded over time but it is still in extremely good condition and it has done a very good job of keeping the braai and table in perfect condition. So in my opinion it’s worth the money, I did have to use a cheap cover until this one was delivered, as they are custom made. You get what you pay for with everything in the BigGreenEgg range, as quality is how they have made their name.
The Royal Maho gany Table:
This cost £850, this is not cheap for a table, which was the main reason I travelled 100 miles to see one. However it is really solid and made from thick Mahogany and comes in over 100kg in weight. So make sure that you decide where you want to place your braai and table before you put it all together as the whole unit is over 200kgs and will take some big boys to move this after construction.
The BigGreenEgg Braai:
I opted for the XL, which is now £1200.00, as I planned to cook for plenty of guinea pigs over the year and I wanted to do some large meat braais on it. And as we all know bigger is always better! Not always true as bigger means you will cook more than you need and use more charcoal and wood than you need to, so take a little time and choose the correct size for your needs.
It took me little over an hour to put this together initially and I’m no handy man, so it’s easy, just take time and be gentle. The XL is over 100kg when constructed so don’t try to pick it up and place it in the table once its built, build it in it to start with. For all other sizes you can have them pre-made for a small free and I would recommend this, as your time is better spent cooking. I have not found anything to complain about on these braai's, they are constructed extremely well and are of such high quality, that they offer a lifetime guarantee on them. The ceramic construction is amazing and is still in perfect condition after a year’s heavy use in all weathers, rain, snow and even a little sun. The cast-iron grills and all the attachments are extremely good quality and justify the cost easily. Don’t waste your time trying to find cheaper equivalents as you will just be wasting you’re time and money in the long run.
There are so many different EGGcessories to choose from that you might have to sell the kids to buy all that you want! Take time to choose the essentials before getting too carried away, in my opinion you definitely need the Cast Iron Grill, Plate Setter and Baking Stone. With these three things you can cook everything I have done so far over the year.
On the down side, the only thing I’ve had go wrong (not wrong really just worn out after so much use and is not unreasonable) is the gasket needed to be replaced. This cost £20 and took me about an hour to do, simple and easy, just make sure that you clean all signs of the old one off before you stick on the new one. There are great instructions on their web site on how to do this, in fact anything you need to know about their range is on there.
As you can see from the photos there are no signs of rust on any of the metal parts even though I live on the coast in the UK and that’s impressive. These are really well made products, be careful out there, as there are some cheaper copies now appearing on the scene. I have been told that they have been cracking when fired up to over 250°C. Mine has been up over 400°C without any problems on several occasions, man this is hot.
Lighting, cleaning and Charcoal:
As I said above, it’s so easy to light especially if you use the fire starters they sell, no chemical smell or taste as they are natural and this braai is ready to use in under 15mins. Once you have finished cooking for the day just close all the vents and the fire will be smothered and put out. This will leave unburned charcoal in the braai and all you need to do is give it a quick rake over so all the small bits of ash drop down into the bottom to be emptied at a later date. This leaves quite a bit of unburned coal ready to be used next time you braai, just chuck a few handfuls of fresh charcoal over this and light. It’s amazing how much money this will save you over a year’s braaiing. I have only used 12 bags of 20kg charcoal in a year and that not much considering how many times I’ve cooked on it.
The inside of the Braai itself never needs to be cleaned, it becomes covered in a patina of smoke but its not greasy or fatty as the heat burns everything off. Grills only need to be brushed off as normal but you can wash if you want, just make sure that you dry before storing. The stainless steel grill that they come with, is still in perfect condition and comes up shining after a wash (only just finished smoking some ribs when photo was taken). The temperature gauge is in perfect condition but I think the cover helps keep it this way.
I’ve used the BigGreenEgg own brand charcoal and others over the year and I can say theirs is also the best I’ve come across. Once again it’s more expensive but you do get really large pieces of coal and the flavour is second to none when cooking with it and it seems to burn hotter and longer than other charcoal I’ve tried in the past. We sell charcoal from other suppliers as well and they are very good but they do not have the large piece that you get in the BGE charcoal.
I’ve baked, smoked and cooked on this braai 3 times a week and I can only say that it has made me look a lot better than I really am as a cook. I know this has sounded like a sales pitch for these braais’ but it’s almost impossible to say something bad about them!
The only down side is the price!
And the only person who can decide if they are worth it is you. In my opinion if you like to cook outside a lot and I mean at least once a week, it’s no contest, it’s worth it. If you want something that looks fantastic and cooks even better, they’re worth it. If you want something that will last you a lifetime, they’re worth it. The initial outlay is very high on these braai's but you won’t be buying another one again, so it’s that old adage, you get what you pay for. If you are considering buying one of these, talk to us about it first and we will make sure that you get what you want and save you some money at the same time.
I have given you a fair and honest view on these braai's and it does look a bit biased but that is the way it has been, without this braai I don’t think I would have made it to the end of the challenge I set myself. It’s been harder choosing what to cook than actually cooking it and I haven’t come across anything I cannot cook on it either.
Until next week, stay safe and happy Braaiing.