Custom Fabricated Accessories for Big Green Egg®
Sliding Grids Sections
Ironically, we did not set out to design sliding grids. We just wanted a better way to cook multiple slabs of ribs using the smoke-foil-sauce (x-x-x) method. We tried vertical rib holders but found them challenging during the foil and sauce stages. We tried to load up the “Large” grid but found that the ribs burn when positioned outside the indirect piece. So, we started tinkering with the Adjustable Rig. What we ended up with is more than a rib rack, we invented Sliding Grids.
Please note: The Slide Guide System is designed to fit the “Large” BGE ceramic cooker only. Plus, the Slide Guide System requires the Adjustable Rig as its “work” platform. If your "Large" cooker is pre 2004 construction, contact us to make sure the Sliding Grids system will fit.
Before going any further, please note it only takes a little “playing” to become familiar with the Slide Guide System. However, using the set-up effectively requires proficiency with the ceramic cooker, Adjustable Rig and Spider. The two-grid set-up requires experience cooking in the dome and is similar to cooking atop the Adjustable Rig. The three-grid set-up is more detailed as the cook places grids at, above and below the felt line.
If you are new to ceramic cooking, we recommend that you gain a little experience before tackling the Slide Guide System. The added experience will shorten your learning curve and make cooking more enjoyable.
It is possible to set-up four grids. Honestly, we don’t see much use for this set-up unless you are a fan of jerky.
Using an Oval Grid atop the Rig Extender is not mandatory. Any grid that fits on the Rig Extender and in the dome should work. However, the benefit of using all Oval grids is the grids are interchangeable. So when it comes to rotating food, you just move the grids and not the food.
Also, using the Rig Extender puts the grid high in the dome. It is possible that the thermometer may get in the way. A remote thermometer is a preferred monitoring method when cooking with Sliding Grids. Information on thermometers can be found here.
The “nuts and bolts” of the Sliding Grid System are:
We recommend setting up the Slide Guides before the cook. It only takes seconds.
Slide Guide on level 4.5 (pictured above): You can do it in or out of the cooker. First, set one Crossbar in the top front brackets (level 4.5) on the Adjustable Rig. Then, with the Slide Guide in hand, simply slip the roundbar with the nut ends into the Adjustable Rig’s back brackets (level 4.5) and lower the Guide onto the front Crossbar.
Slide Guide on level 3.0 or 1.5: It is easiest to set these Slide Guides with the Adjustable Rig out of the cooker. It’s the same basic step as above, except don’t forget to slip the Slide Guide under the Adjustable Rig’s front support ring before seating the Slide Guide into the back brackets.
Quasi Direct & Indirect
This is as easy as it gets. Surprisingly, it’s handy and a time saver! It is a terrific set-up for switching back and forth between direct or indirect cooks to control temperature or drippings. Just slide a pan in or out whenever you like. Plus, it’s a lazy cook’s dream for an indirect cook as the pan acts as the indirect piece.
Basically, the Rig is the work platform. The Slide Guide sits on Level 4.5 and holds the rectangular pan. The “Large” grid sits atop the Rig or use the Rig Extender with Oval Grid to push the grid higher in the dome or increase the space between pan and grid.
What you Need: Adjustable Rig, Slide Guide, 11”x15”x1” Drip Pan, “Large” Grid or Oval Grid with Rig Extender
What to Do:
1) Place one Slide Guide on bracket level 4.5;
2) Grid placement can be either
a) a “Large grid on top of the Adjustable Rig; or
b) the Rig Extender on top of the Adjustable Rig and one Oval Grid on the Rig Extender;
3) The rectangular pan rests and slides in and out on the Slide Guide under the grid.
4) Wear adequate hand protection while handling items from the cooker.
Cool thing is from the felt line down; it’s a clear shot to the lump. So, adding wood chunks is quick. The Rig Extender and Oval Grid option puts the grid approximately 11.5-inches above the top of the firebox.
With this set-up both grids sit at or above the felt rim. So access to each grid is quick and easy. To get at the lower grid, just slide it out. It’s a great set-up for smoking ribs or grilling high in the dome. Plus, with the Oval Grids, swapping grid positions or rotating food is a snap. Just slide the bottom grid out, slide the top grid in and put the bottom grid on top.
By adding a set of Crossbars on level 1.5 or 3.0, the set-up can go indirect. The Crossbars can hold a stone, pan, or stone/pan combo. If you worry about setting a drip pan directly on the stone, use two sets of Crossbars: one to hold the stone on level 1.5 and the other to hold the drip pan on level 3.0. Or, use the Spider to hold the stone and place the drip pan on the Crossbars. The drip pan can be round or rectangular. The 11”x15”x1” rectangular dip pan is a great match for the Oval Grid and it can slide out between the Rig’s front brackets. Needless to say, you have choices!
What you need: Adjustable Rig with Crossbars, Rig Extender, Slide Guide, 2 Oval Grids and Indirect Pieces(s). For indirect, you’ll need: pan, pan/stone combo, Spider or optional 2nd Crossbar set.
Key points on this set-up are:
- The Adjustable Rig acts as the “work” platform. The set-up can be direct or indirect.
- The cooking is above the felt line.
- There is approximately 2.75-inches of space between grids;
- When the set-up is complete, the only pieces that move are the two Oval Grids.
- If you need to access the lump, just lift the loaded Adjustable Rig out of the cooker. The cooker is empty, if not using the Spider.
- It can be used for more than just ribs.
What to do:
- Load the lump and smoking wood. You can fill the fire ring. Light the lump.
- Configure the indirect pieces.
- Set the Slide Guide on level 4.5 (highest bracket setting on the Rig).
- Carefully, set the Adjustable Rig on the fire ring.
- Slip the Rig Extender atop the Rig.
- When ready, slide one loaded Oval Grid on the Slide Guide and place the second Oval grid atop the Rig Extender. Begin the cook.
- Wear adequate hand protection while handling items from the cooker.
As mentioned, if you need to rotate grids, just swap them out. This set-up works best for same style cooks, all direct or all indirect. If you want to bounce beween direct and indirect, we recommend using only a rectangular pan that slides, no stone. You’ll need to pull the Rig to get at the pan.
Of all the set-ups we outline on the site, this is the Grand Daddy. It’s not hard to master as long as you have a reasonable understanding of ceramic cooking and using the Adjustable Rig. It does require a watchful eye as you’ll have to rotate grids during the cook. Taking notes until you are proficient with the cook(s) is recommended.
What you need: Adjustable Rig, Rig Extender, 2 Slide Guides, 3 Oval Grids, Spider and Indirect Piece(s). Recommend indirect pieces are 14-inch stone and 14-inch round pan.
Key points on this set-up are:
- You need a work area outside the cooker.
- The Adjustable Rig acts as the “work” platform for the three Oval Grids.
- The Spider holds the indirect piece(s): pan or pan/stone.
- You can work the upper two grids without removing the Rig.
- To work the lowest grid, the Adjustable Rig must be removed from the cooker.
- There are approximately 2.75-inches of space between grids.
What to do:
- Load the lump and smoking wood. You can load up to one-third of the fire ring. We recommend only loading what lump you need. Light the lump.
- Set the Spider on the fire ring. Set the indirect piece(s) on the Spider.
- With the Adjustable Rig outside the cooker, set one Slide Guide on level 1.5 and then set the other Slide Guide on level 4.5.
- When you are ready to begin the cook, slide one loaded Oval Grid on each Slide Guide.
- Set the partially loaded Rig in the cooker.
- Slip the Rig Extender atop the Adjustable Rig.
- Place the third loaded Oval Grid atop the Rig Extender and begin the cook.
- Wear adequate hand protection while handling items from the cooker.
When it’s time to rotate the grids, carefully remove the Rig out of the cooker. Couple methods to do this are:
When rotating grids, it’s best to rotate in one direction: top down or bottom up. It’s also a good idea to get into the habit of rotating the same way during all cooks. To return the loaded Rig to the cooker, reverse the steps you took to remove the Rig.
A recommendation for the cook is to use foil with the drip pan and shape the foil to match the ribs. Keep the foil under the Rig. This will help protect the ends of each rack on the lowest grid.
There are plenty of set-ups for cooking ribs. The slide guide systems is just one solution that allows the ribs to lay flat for foiling, saucing and such. And the 3 grid system provides a productive method for maximizing the number of full racks in a single cook.
As mentioned earlier, we designed the Sliding Grids to slow smoke whole slabs of pork ribs. A typical pork slab holds 11-14 bones and runs up to 18-inches in length. At 17.5-inches long, the Oval Grid is long enough to handle most slabs. The Oval Grid is 13-inches wide. The load capacity per set-up is highlighted in the chart below. St. Louis style depends on trimmed width.
|# of Slabs Per Cook||Spare Ribs||Loin Back||St. Louis|
Whenever possible we recommend a rectangular pan for the drip pan. Simply, the pan matches the rib shape nicely. If need be, just add a bit of foil along the pan edges to extend the indirect barrier a bit. We offer an 11”x15”x1” aluminum pan. Information on all our pans can be found here.
We like smoking full slabs for a couple reasons:
- Maybe it’s just us, but there is something about displaying/handling full slabs that half slabs just can’t match. Maybe it’s the way a full slab dwarfs a dinner plate. Or, maybe it is how a full slab handles or hangs from the tongs. We’re not sure why but guest anticipation is always greater with a full slab vs. half slabs.
- It is easier to keep up with full slabs than twice as many half racks. Have you ever wondered with tongs in hand: Hmmm, did I flip/rotate that rack or where did that one (special) rack go? And what about filling a grid to capacity only to find when flipping or rotating later, the ribs don’t fit.
- With foiling, the fewer foil sheets required the better. This means the cooker is open less and mistakes (torn foil, shortage with braising liquids) are less likely to occur.
If you need to keep track of a special slab we recommend this simple trick. Take a small piece of aluminum foil and folded it over the Oval Grid’s front edge a couple times. This way you know where the special rack is located. Remember, the sliding grids concept is “move the grids and not the ribs”. So, the rack should stay put with the foil marker.
Cooking ribs is relatively straightforward. It’s a matter of recognizing how the ribs on each level are progressing and then rotate accordingly. During your first cook or two, we recommend that you start by dividing each stage’s cooking time by the number of grids and rotate equally. For example, on the 3-1-1 method the first stage is three hours. So, rotate at 1.5 hours with two grids and every hour with three grids. You will probably find it’s not necessary to rotate during 1-hour stages. One tidbit to note, the top ribs can baste the lower ribs.
If you like, you can rotate or flip the slab(s) on each grid. Plus, if the rear of the cooker is running hot, simply turn the grid 180 degrees or rotate the Rig 90 degrees.
Using the Slide Guides, Rig Extender and Oval Grids is only limited by your imagination. For example, if you enjoy smoking ribs direct, just drop the Rig Extender on the Adjustable Rig with an Oval Grid and you are set. Again, 11.5-inches above the firebox is about as high as you can go and still get full slabs in the dome.
We’ve tried pizza on the Rig Extender. Ok, they were frozen pizzas but we liked the way it turned out. There are alternative set-ups to control heat distribution around the pizza. Wear adequate hand protection while handling items from the cooker.
We’ve also used the set-up to keep food separated. This is handy when working with like-kind food seasoned with different rubs. It’s saved us several times from mixing things up after a beverage or two!
This ends the Adj. Rig Sliding Grids narrative.