BBQ Equipment: The Big Easy 2
I promised you guys a review of the Big Easy, Charbroil's new infra-red oil-less turkey fryer. I've already told you that this little guy works as advertised. It produces birds that are moist and tender with a crispy skin, all without the use of oil. (Sorry, we didn't get any pictures.)
How does it work? I'll borrow a piece of my buddy Adam's explanation from his excellent website, Men In Aprons..
“We have to understand two things: thermodynamics and frying.
According to thermodynamics there are three ways of heat transfer: convection, conduction, and radiation. Imagine a piece of meat sitting on a hot grill. Convection is the act of air heating and rising and circulating around the grill. Conduction is the direct transfer of heat from the hot grill grate onto the meat. And radiation is the transfer of electromagnetic waves through the space of the grill from off of the diffusers, sides of the grill, or the grill grates themselves.
This act of radiation is the way that infrared cookers work. They transfer radiant energy from radiant conductors directly to the food you are cooking. Since there is little or no convection in this process, the food does not dry out from the circulation of hot air.
And now on to frying. To understand how The Big Easy works and why it is called a fryer, despite the lack of cooking oil, you must understand the act of frying itself. Deep frying food is a way to cook food fast and at a very high temperature. Immersing food into rocket-hot oil attacks the food on all surface areas. It is one-hundred percent conduction cooking. Heat is transferred directly from the oil onto the surface of the food. And since it cooks fast and hot, juices and flavors are sealed in and a nice golden-brown color is created. Perfect.
If you think about The Big Easy, the method and results are the same. The Big Easy heats the meat in the container by using radiant energy, attacking the food on all surfaces areas at a very high temperature. The result is a nicely cooked piece of meat, with juices sealed in and a golden brown exterior.”
In our first cook, my brother and I experienced just that, “a nicely cooked piece of meat, with juices sealed in and a golden brown exterior.” We did two large chickens in just about one hour.
So what’s it like using this beast? Actually cooking on the Big Easy couldn’t be simpler. You season your bird, drop it in the fryer basket and drop the basket into the cooking chamber. (I recommend spraying the fryer basket with Pam prior to cooking. It makes cleanup so much easier)
Putting the Bib Easy together was another issue. While I wouldn’t say it was particularly difficult, the instructions were a bit confusing. The underside of the Big easy contains the gas hoses, the rotating igniter, and a grease trap. It’s a lot to fit in and the pictures were not particularly helpful.
The packaging for shipping was great and the hardware arrived in a great card with all screws and nuts labeled clearly and easy to find. My grease drawer arrived with the flanges bent, even though the box was undamaged. It had to have been packed that way.
So, where is the room for improvement? There’s not much. Charbroil really has done a bang up job here, but there are a few minor things I’d like to see in version 1.1.
- Improved assembly directions. They’re not bad, but the pictures don’t really help.
- The grease drawer changed to a food safe metal. As shipped, if you plan on using the drippings in gravy or whatever, you need to line the grease drawer with a food safe aluminum pan.
- A cookbook or brochure dedicated to the Big Easy. Charbroil ships the Big Easy with their generic recipe brochure that is geared to the grills they make and another pamphlet on how to cook a turkey in the Big Easy. I’m not looking for grilling recipes when I’ve got this cooker out. Show me how to use the Big Easy, not the Tec Grill.
- Charbroil needs to pay more attention to what’s put in the box. This isn’t the first time I’ve received an item from Charbroil with a part damaged or missing.
- They need to improve the fryer basket. I don't know if they're all like this, or it's just mine, but the horizontal bars are not welded on all the verticals. There doesn't seem to be any rhyme or reason to where the spot welds are. Some bars are welded to every vertical and on others only in two spots. Also, the horizontal bars are not always straight. I don't know if this is by design, but it seems a bit like they were a bit lazy putting this together.