I was doing some spring cleaning on my large Big Green Egg when I noticed that my fire grate (the metal plate at the bottom of the firebox that lets air in and keeps the charcoal from falling through) had not only cracked, but also deformed so that it was domed upward.
This is the second time this has happened in 5 years. The last time I just called my dealer and he had a free replacement for me in about a week. So, kind of a bummer, but not a huge deal. I put the broken grate back in and figured I’d pick a new one up when I got a chance.
But when I checked my email that night I had a note from the fine folks at High-Que wondering if I’d be interested in testing out their grate upgrade.
Talk about timing.
A couple of days later I had a new fire grate in my mailbox.
The BGE grate is cast iron and built like a floor drain with holes in it. The High-Que one is stainless steel and built like a grill grate. High-Que says that this design not only allows more air to get to the charcoal, but it won’t clog up with with ash either.
The High-Que grate fits perfectly, sitting on the same little bumps inside the firebox that hold the original grate in place. I loaded the firebox about a third of the way up with lump charcoal from a bag that was about half empty. You lump charcoal aficionados out there know that that means the lump was about 50/50 large chunks versus little chunks. There was very little dust (the few bits of lump you see in there are what was left when my shop-vac crapped out).
I lit the lump like I usually do – one Lightning Nuggets fire starter in the middle of the lump and then hit it with the MAPP torch just long enough to get the starter going. I closed the lid and the bottom vent screen, but left the upper daisy wheel vent off and the top open.
About 10 minutes later I had this little inferno going and the dome thermometer was just shy of 700°F.
I put the upper daisy wheel vent on and adjusted it the where I usually get 375°F (main opening covered and the little daises opened all the way). After 10 minutes the temp settled down to 425°F and stayed there for the 20 minutes it took to cook dinner.
I’ve used the High-Que grate 6 times so far, and so far it performs just as advertised – the Egg comes up to temp faster and burns between 25°F and 50°F hotter than it did with the old grate. I’ve not had any problems with ash clogging the grate, even though I’ve reused the lump that was left from the last fire every time and the and lump keeps getting smaller as I work my way to the bottom of the bag. I’ve not had to use my wiggle rod once to get the fire to take off.
It does feel like I’m using a bit more charcoal with the new grate, but I can’t tell if I’m really burning more, or if more of the little bits are falling through the grate. Also, all of the cooks so far have been medium to medium-high heat. While I don’t doubt that it will rock at nuclear temps, I’m curious to see how it does on an overnight low-n-slow cook.
The grate is made in the USA, has a 5 year warranty, and retails for $32.88 plus $4.99 shipping.
P.S. High-Que also carries a Nomex gasket with adhesive backing that I’m looking forward to tying out when my current gasket dies.