If you don’t have a Big Green EGG—the plump, cheerfully indented, bright green ceramic cooker which first took the United States by storm in the 1970s—then grill manufacturer Big Green EGG’s Big Green EGG Cookbook: Celebrating the World’s Best Smoker & Grill probably isn’t the right gift for you. But if you’re an EGGhead—Big Green EGG’s nickname for their customers, referring especially to the folks who will swear by no other grill—then you’ll no doubt need this book for your extensive collection of literature capturing the fine art of ceramic cookery.
The introductory sections of the cookbook will at least be interesting to EGGheads and non-EGGheads alike, as it outlines the fascinating history of the grill in the United States. It was an unexpectedly successful business venture, first launched when Big Green EGG’s founder, Ed Fisher, began importing and refashioning Japanese kamados, globular ceramic cookers. Thus the EGG was hatched, and along with it the role of the kamado in American cookery. The Big Green EGG Cookbook’s existence and achievement is due to the grill’s extensive fan base—and the cookbook, a 320-page hardcover book boasting 160 recipes, gives back, detailing the history of its cult and including an entire section of recipes created by loyal EGGheads.
The Big Green EGG Cookbook is not your typical guide to grilling; while a great deal of the book explains how to grill, roast, or smoke meats and vegetables on the EGG, the company wants to emphasize the fact that its product has many other capabilities. The EGG is touted as oven and grill in one—the chef can make complex baked goods and side dishes, such as bananas foster or baked beans, in addition to standard barbecued meats. The company explains the benefits of using the EGG versus other grills, with special emphasis on the ceramic cooker’s durability and unique internal and external temperature control, and why chefs should use Big Green EGG’s special blend of natural charcoal.
Next are the recipes, neatly broken up into categories, beginning with the obvious processes of roasting, grilling, and smoking meats, including various rub and sauce recipes, before dipping into unexplored grilling territory: appetizers, vegetarian dishes, side dishes, baked goods, breakfast items, and desserts. The recipes are remarkable for their appeal and versatility, covering a variety of tastes. Some entrée-style recipes are paired with appropriate side dishes, while other recipes are tied together by a common style or ingredient. For example, Big Green EGG divulges the recipe for their Red Chili Rub, which is more than a meat rub—it can be prepared to use for either Red Chile Scallops with Cool Mango-Mint Salsa or Red Chili & Lime Shortbread Cookies as well. Many of the recipes are neither quick (even in terms of pre-grill preparation) nor intended for the faint of heart. Though they are clear and fleshed out enough to follow, the recipes require patience, numerous ingredients, and a taste for the exotic. Warm Southwestern Potato Salad, for example, requires grilled cactus and chopped jicama, two items unlikely to be staples in the average chef’s refrigerator.
To a non-EGGhead, a griller apart from the exclusive community that the Big Green EGG Cookbook brings to life, the recipes may seem flawed by Big Green EGG’s accompanying promotion of their products. For example, the company points out that an EGGhead may require a few customized accessories to fully realize the grill’s potential, such as a pizza stone or a plate setter; as the pages drag in the “Getting Acquainted with EGGs and EGGcessories” section, it begins to read like an EGG catalog. However, this welcoming cookbook will manage to convince even the skeptical beginner EGGhead of the necessity of giving in fully to the universe of the EGG, regardless of cost or hardship, to yield the most perfect dishes.