I have officially joined the cult. I am an egghead. My name is Darrell and I own a Big Green Egg and I cannot stop cooking on it.
Let me explain.
Remember back when there was a Circuit City electronics store in our area? They ran a particular commercial for years. A father and his son would visit Circuit City over and over and over, gazing wistfully at the wide screen high definition television that they hoped to buy and bring to their own home one day. They would return with each passing season and take up residence in front of the TV set until the store closed and they had to go home to their own antique 35-inch set.
That's me -- except with the Big Green Egg. For years I have found every excuse in the world to drop by Cowan Ace Hardware for this and that. As often as I visited Cowan's one would think that I would have the neatest yard and most squared away home in the area. One would be wrong. My numerous trips to the hardware store were actually thinly veiled excuses to visit the grill section and stare at the Eggs, dreaming of the day that I could own one myself.
For the uninitiated, a Big Green Egg is a unique type of ceramic grill, smoker, roaster, oven and all-round cooking device perfected by Georgian Ed Fisher in the 1970s. The first person I ever knew who owned one was former Ebenezer UMC pastor Davis Hancock. He used to rave about how efficiently they cooked and what delicious and moist food they produced. Back in those days, the product was mostly promoted through small ads in the sports pages of the big city newspaper -- often right next to those for Asian massage parlors.
As the years passed more and more folks I knew became Egg converts and for the past five or six years one of the hot topics of conversation at school -- especially when Bob Bradley and Casey Teal get together -- has been that self-same smoker. Bob and Casey would compare cooking techniques, citing cook times and temperatures as if they were quoting passages from Deuteronomy and the conversation was always laced with talks of rubs and spices and marinades and what sort of wood chips created the best flavor.
Now understand, these weren't casual conversations or words shared in passing. These were long passionate discussions. It was obvious that these guys were committed to what they were doing.
But talk is cheap. The proof is in the pudding -- or, in this case, the ribs, Boston butt and smoked turkey breast. I had the opportunity to sample some of Casey's cooking at an Athens tailgate party one October. A couple of years later, Bob Bradley held court with a wide array of his food at the Georgia-Colorado game. Last fall, he offered samples of his wares at Cowan's while I signed copies of my new cook book, and then, last Thanksgiving, when he produced a smoked turkey for me that my own kids said was better than anything I had ever cooked, my mind was made up. I would own a Big Green Egg.
A month ago I pulled the trigger and I am here to tell you that my life has been changed. I was already interested in becoming an Egghead. Now I am committed to being one. I simply cannot stop cooking on my Egg.
How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. For one thing it uses lump charcoal, which starts quickly, without lighter fluid, and burns consistently. I can get my cooker to a set temperature and it will stay there for hours. I'm talking 10 or 12 hours. I ain't making this up, y'all. The coal burns with very little ash and what doesn't burn up can be reused.
The domed shape of the cooker and the thick ceramic sides holds in heat and flavor and moisture like nothing I've ever experienced -- and, no -- I am not an official spokesman for the company. So far I have cooked Boston butts twice, ribs three times, whole chickens a half-dozen times, and smoked turkey. I have also cooked some of the best steaks I have ever eaten -- 600 degrees, four minutes to the side.
Every bite of food has been delicious and, besides all that, it is just a lot of fun to experiment with rubs and spices and marinades and .... well, all those things I've listened to Bob and Casey talk about for years. Plus I got a huge compliment from my kids when they said, "Daddy, your stuff is just as good as Bob's!" That alone was worth the price.
Is there a downside to the Big Green Egg? Oh, absolutely. I am eating way too much meat and have gained 6 pounds this month. When I get to M.D. Anderson in Houston on Monday my doctors are going to read me the riot act.
But it is Texas. Maybe I can temper their ire a bit if I smuggle in a little sliced brisket. Excuse me while I fire up my Egg. I've got some doctors to bribe.
Darrell Huckaby is a local educator and author. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. For past columns, visit www.rockdalecitizen.com or www.newtoncitizen.com.