The last time I was at The Big Green Egg Culinary Center I spent all day learning the ins and outs of these versatile grills/smokers. The hands-on Boot Camp was the perfect opportunity to experience everything from grilling to smoking to cold smoking while working with an experienced chef and pitmaster—all while eating delicious food you helped to create!
Most recently, I attended a more specialized class, Cast Iron Cooking. While the boot camp covered various cooking styles, this class was all about the iconic cookware and how it can be used specifically on the Egg. Unlike the all-day camp, this class was held on a weeknight and lasted only a couple of hours. Chef and Pitmaster Taylor Shulman and Chef Amanda Egidio were on hand to teach us about cast iron and how best to use it on the Eggs. A large team of volunteers was in attendance to help make sure everything went smoothly. The class size was smaller which made it feel more intimate and allowed for more interaction with the Eggs, the food, the team, and each other.
Once I checked in and found a seat, I ventured to the back of the room where there were sodas, beer, and wine as well as a plate of delicious meatballs to snack on before we got started.
After we were introduced to the team and given a chance to introduce ourselves, Taylor gave us a quick tutorial on cast iron, what the marks on the bottom of pieces mean, how to test “garage sale finds” for lead, cleaning, and seasoning. Then it was on to the good stuff. Cooking!
Our menu consisted of:
- Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, both savory and sweet
- Pot Roast with Vegetables
- Chicken and Dumplin’s
- Apple & Pear Crisp
The format for this class was completely open. There were a couple of stations in the demonstration area, a station in the back prep area and a couple of stations outside on the deck. We didn’t split into teams this time; instead, we were encouraged to check out each station and get as hands-on, or off, as we liked. I worked with the Chicken and Dumplin’s team, chopping chicken and veggies inside, then sauteing the veggies outside before roaming around to see how the other dishes were faring.
The BGE team started the Pot Roast with Vegetables before we arrived because it takes longer to cook than the class allows for. It was brought in to rest shortly after we started cooking the other items.
Before I got too far, I headed over to the savory grilled cheese station to see what was happening there. Everything was completely customizable with choices for bread, cheese, spreads, and other add-ins. Bread choices were pumpernickel, sourdough, and Italian and the cheeses available were Swiss, white American, and both mild and sharp cheddar. Add-ins included pear and apple slices, bacon, tomato, and lettuce while the spreads were butter and mayonnaise. I saw quite a few Grilled Cheese BLTs, but I forged a new path with my Apple Bacon Cheddar Melt.
After my grilled cheese, I checked inside to see the status of the other foods. The cornbread was already mixed and poured into its cast iron pan and was ready to go on the grill.
The topping for the Apple Pear Crisp was ready and was heading out to toast. When we went through the recipe for this, they mentioned the topping has walnuts. Unfortunately—or fortunately, as the case may be—walnut is the only nut I am allergic to. Taylor kindly made a separate dessert just for me! I love that they are so accommodating.
Next up, the dumplings were ready to go into the chicken mixture. Yum!
Once the dumplings were added to the chicken, everything finished up pretty quickly. A few minutes later we were all inside with a spread of food fit for a king. I was so hungry, even with all the snacking, I forgot to take a picture of all the food! But the Apple and Pear Crisp turned out beautifully.
Last but not least, I have to tell you about the Sweet Grilled Cheese station. Full disclosure? I ate two of these bad boys. Eep! To make them, split a donut in half, butter both sides, grill the cut sides of both pieces, smear both grilled sides with mascarpone (or cream cheese), layer with strawberries, assemble like a sandwich, grill both sides, drizzle with melted chocolate, sprinkle with powdered sugar, cut in half, and enjoy!
All the food was so good, and the people are so wonderful, I really enjoy attending these fun events. There is almost always something going on at The Big Green Egg Culinary Center. Check out their website to learn more about their events or plan one of your own! The space is perfectly suited to private or corporate events. There are a few events similar to this coming up soon. Visit the Culinary Local site to register today!