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Sliding Grids & Rig Extender on the Large Adjustable Rig
New Dec. 2012 -- The Rig Extender & 16" Sliding D Grid are patent pending.
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Ironically, we did not set out to invent sliding grids. We just wanted a better way to cook multiple racks of ribs flat, 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 18" grid but found the ribs burned when positioned outside the indirect piece. So, we started tinkering with the Adjustable Rig. What we ended up with is more than just a horizontal rib rack, we invented sliding grids.
Please note: The sliding grids system requires the Large Adjustable Rig as its staging platform.
Before going any further we need to mention, it only takes a little practice to become familiar with the sliding grid system. However, using the set-ups effectively requires proficiency with the ceramic cooker and Adjustable Rig. If you are new to ceramic cooking, we recommend you gain a little experience before tackling multiple sliding grids. The added experience will shorten your learning curve and make cooking more enjoyable.
The Large Adjustable Rig is the platform and the four key pieces to sliding grids are:
|(1) The Large Rig Extender sits atop the Adjustable Rig and extends the top grid position to 7.5" above the fire ring. This is about as high as a Sliding D or Oval Grid will go and still fit in the dome. The Rig Extender is fabricated from 304 Stainless Steel.|
|(2) The Large Slide Guide is a rail system that supports the Oval Grid as the Grid slides in and out. Position the Slide Guide like you would the Rig Crossbars on the Rig. The Guide's fixed Crossbar spans across the Rig's back brackets. The loose Crossbar spans the Rig's front brackets. The Slide Guide is fabricated with 1/4" round and 1/8"x1/2" 304 Stainless bar stock.|
|(3) The 13"x17" (12.75"x17.5" actual) Oval Grid is designed to slide between the Adjustable Rig’s front two brackets and sit atop the Rig Extender. The grid is fabricated from 8 gage (0.129”) 304 Stainless round bar and Electro-polished for improved surface performance. The grid's 24 crosswires create a tightly spaced pattern.|
|(4) The 16" Sliding D Grid sits atop Rig Extender to create an elevated cooking platform high in the dome. The Sliding D Grid is designed to slide back and forth along the Rig Extender, providing a convenient way to access a drip pan, stone, lump or second grid underneath. The D Grid's dimensions are configured to match the diameter of the fire ring. The crossbars on the Grid are approximately 1/2" on-center to better handle secondary cooks like veggies, foiled pouches and such.,|
Although not mandatory, a fifth piece is the 13"x17" Oval Ceramic Stone. We exclusively designed the Oval Stone to extend indirect protection under long meat cuts, specifically ribs and brisket. The Oval shape provides maximum protection with minimal impact on air circulation. The Oval Stone can slide on the Slide Guide. Actual stone measurements are 12.75" wide and 17" long. The Oval Stone is a good match to our 13"x17" Oval Stainless Grid. The ceramic structure is a high temperature cordierite formula. The Oval Stone is made in the USA exclusively for CGS.
On most sliding grid set-ups we recommend setting the Oval Stone on the Rig's lowest bracket setting, Level 1.5. Having it 1.5" above the fire ring opens up the fire ring for improved air circulation. Do not place the Oval Stone directly on the fire ring. Foil atop the Oval Stone is recommended to catch drippings. We offer an Oval Foil Ring that matches the Oval Stone. It's best to double foil the Ring to create an oval shaped pan. The Foil Ring is fabricated using 1/8"x1/2" Stainless flat bar. The Oval Stone and Ring do not fit the Large Spider.
Just as a quick note, the Slide Guide fits the Rig a specific way. The Guide's welded Crossbar goes to the back of the Rig, pictured below. The loose Crossbar goes to the front of the Rig. If you think you'll need to slide during a cook, we recommend setting the slide guide before starting the cook. This way it is in place, if and when you need it.
Cooking atop the Rig Extender is an effective way to raise the grid higher into the dome where the food can take full advantage of the reflective and convective heat patterns within the dome. It's our favorite spot to cook chicken, pizza and/or anything that burns easily. We find cooking on the Rig Extender is just easier and requires less attention to detail than cooking at the felt line, on the fire ring or atop the Rig. It's 11.5" from the top of the firebox to the Rig Extender.
The Rig Extender is a "U" shape piece with five laser cut legs that rest on the Adjustable Rig's top ring. The hook on the back leg slips around the Rig's back vertical support and keeps the Extender properly positioned atop the Rig. A Stop Support across the Extender is a guide when sliding the D Grid. The front Crossbar (used with Oval Grid) is removable for open access into the cooker.
Note: To set the Extender on the Rig, first guide the back hook under the Rig's top ring and around the Rig's back support. Then, lower the Extender's four other legs on the Rig's top ring.
The Rig Extender's new feature is it works in tandem with our 16" Sliding D Grid. The Sliding D Grid is designed to slide back and forth along the Rig Extender, providing a convenient way to access a drip pan, stone, lump or second grid underneath. The D Grid's dimensions are configured on a 16" diameter grid with the short (flat) side measuring 14.5" deep. The crossbars on the Grid are approximately 1/2" on-center to better handle secondary cooks like veggies, foiled pouches and such.
The open front on the Rig Extender provides direct access to items below. So, with double grid cooks getting at the lower grid is as easy as sliding the D grid back. Plus, you have options on where to position the lower grid by using the Crossbars and 3 Rig Levels. Pictured below is our 16.5" Round grid on Rig Level 3.0 - 3" above the fire ring. The 16.5" Round grid matches up nicely with the diameter of the fire ring. This is a great feature for grilling, as the lower grid is raised above the fire ring for easier access.
Set-Up (How to Use): The Sliding D Grid is designed to slide back and forth on the Extender. Place the Large Rig Extender atop the Rig with the Extender's open end facing toward the front of the cooker. Place the Sliding D Grid atop the Rig Extender, so the two lower legs on the D Grid run parallel to the Extender's side legs. The straight edge on the D shaped grid is the front side. The D Grid's legs run outside of the Extender's side leg and help minimize side-to-side movement. The Rig Extender's removable front crossbar can be removed when using the Sliding D Grid.
It is not feasible to use the 18" BGE stock grid with the Rig Extender - just not enough room between grids.
Please note: Care must be taken when moving the Sliding D Grid along the Rig Extender, as there are no limitations on how far the D Grid can slide. Balancing the Sliding D Grid atop the Rig Extender is dependent on several factors including but not limited to weight distribution on the Grid, how fast the grid slides and how far the dome opens. Whenever possible, keep the D Grid's weight distribution slightly forward of center (toward the grid's flat edge). No need to lubricate anything, as the smoke, grease and such from the cooks automatically lubricate the rails for easy sliding.
The Rig Extender also works in tandem with our 13"x17" Oval Grid. One added benefit of the Oval Grid is the grid slides on the Slide Guide. So when it comes to rotating food, top to/from bottom, you just move the Oval Grids and not the food. More on what it means to slide and rotate grids is outlined below. Using two Oval Grids is a great and easy way to smoke four racks of babyback or St. Louis style ribs: See below - Two Grids with Lower Grid Sliding.
The Rig Extender comes with one removable Crossbar. The Crossbar slips into the two loops at the front of the Extender. You need to set the Crossbar when using the Oval Grid, pizza stone or any other platforms requiring front support.
Also, when using the Rig Extender it is possible that the dome thermometer may get in the way. A remote thermometer is a preferred monitoring method when cooking with the Rig Extender. More information on thermometers can be found here.
Atop the Rig Extender is our preferred set-up for pizza. Our 16" diameter stone matches nicely with Pappa Murphy's large thin crust pizza. Our baking temps are 425ish and the 16" stone is the only stone we use. It's important that the lump is burning evenly so the heat plume rising from the lump heats the stone evenly.
Two Grids with Lower Grid Sliding:
The most flexible sliding grid set-up is the two grid set-up. On this set-up, the bottom 13"x17" Oval Grid slides in and out on the Slide Guide. For the top grid set-up, you have two options: (1) large 18" grid atop the Rig or (2) Rig Extender with Oval Grid atop the Rig. The recommended indirect pieces are the 13"x17" Oval Ceramic Stone and Oval Foil Ring on Rig Level 1.5. The 13" Round Stone with no drip pan can work too on Level 1.5.
The rib cook below uses the large 18" Grid set-up, option (1). This set-up is new, October 2011, as the Adjustable Rig received a minor modification. The front bracket support was moved from Level 4.5 to Level 1.5. Dropping the support makes it worthwhile to slide at Level 3.0. Spacing between grids is approximately 2.5", so ribs fit but brisket packers and pork butts do not fit between grids.
With the 18" top grid, the sliding Oval Grid is below the felt line. In order to slide the Oval Grid, you'll need to pull the Rig out of the cooker; Therefore, a work area adjacent to the cooker is required. Remember to wear proper personal protection when handling hot equipment.
Note on the pictures above, the top ribs are actually sitting on an Oval Grid that is sitting on the 18" grid. We did this so rotating ribs from top to bottom is easy: change grids not ribs.
With option 2, the Rig Extender & Oval Grid is the top grid set-up. The 18" stock grid is not used. The lower grid sits at the felt rim. 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 effortless. Just slide the bottom grid out, slide the top grid in and put the bottom grid on top. This is our favorite two grid set-up. Grid spacing is approximately 2.75", so ribs fit, briskets and butts do not fit.
As pictured below, it is still possible to barbeque big meats using the Rig Extender configuration. Simply, drop the lower grid to Rig Level 3.0. Grid spacing for the lower grid is approximately 4.5", so 2 butts or medium brisket packer will fit on the lower grid. Ribs or small cuts can still go atop the Rig Extender. To access the lower grid, you'll need to remove the top grid or lift the Rig out of the cooker.
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're ready. Again, 11.5" above the firebox is about as high as you can go and still get full rib racks in the dome.
Using two grids is a handy way to keep similar but different foods separated. An example cook is chicken wings seasoned with different rubs. Two grids saved us several times from mixing things up while busy entertaining. You can also grill using the sliding grid, see corn picture below.
Three Grids with Lower Two Grids Sliding:
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 have to rotate grids during the cook. We recommend taking notes until you are proficient with the cook(s).
Note: The most common three grid cook is ribs. Other foods can be cooked on three grids but they need to fit the approximately 2.75" spacing between grids.
What you need: Adjustable Rig, Rig Extender, 2 Slide Guides, 3 Oval Grids, Spider, 13" Round Ceramic Stone and 13.5" round Stainless Drip 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): 13" Stone and 14" Drip Pan.
- 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 is approximately 2.75" of space between grids.
The three grid set-up is similar to two grids except you need to add one more Slide Guide and Oval Grid. Also, you need the Large Spider, 13" Round Ceramic Stone and 14" Stainless Drip Pan as they create the indirect set-up. The Oval Stone and Foil Ring do not work with three grids. The third grid sits at Level 1.5, same Level where the Oval Stone sits on 2 grid cooks.
The next couple Sections (Ribs on the Sliding Grids & Recommendations on Sliding) have some helpful pointers with three grids cooks.
It is possible to set-up four grids with three sliding. Honestly, we don’t see much use for this set-up unless you are a fan of jerky.
Ribs on the Sliding Grids:
As mentioned earlier, we designed the sliding grids to slow smoke pork ribs. A typical pork rack has 11-14 bones and runs up to 18" in length. At 17.5" long, the Oval Grid is long enough to handle most racks. The load capacity per set-up is highlighted in the chart below. Fitting St. Louis style ribs depends on trim width but most cuts should go two racks per grid.
|# of Racks per Cook||Spare Ribs||Loin (Baby) Back||St. Louis|
Our preference is quality over quantity. So even though some folks may outperform the # racks per grid listed, we stick with what's listed.
We like smoking full racks for a couple reasons:
- Maybe it’s just us, but there is something about displaying or handling full racks that half slabs just can’t match. Maybe it’s the way a full rack dwarfs a dinner plate. Or, maybe it is how a full rack handles or hangs from the tongs. We’re not sure why but guest anticipation is always greater with full racks vs. half slabs.
- It is easier to keep up with full racks than twice as many half slabs. 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, fewer racks mean fewer aluminum sheets. This means the cooker is open less and mistakes (torn foil, shortage with braising liquids) are less likely to occur.
Couple Rib Pointers:
- If you need to keep track of a special rack, we recommend putting a toothpick in the rack and/or taking a small piece of aluminum foil and looping it over the Oval Grid’s front edge. 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 can stay put with the foil marker.
- Cooking ribs is relatively straightforward. It’s a matter of recognizing how the racks 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, the top ribs can baste the lower ribs.
- If you prefer, you can rotate or flip the slab(s) on each grid. Plus, if the back of the cooker is running hot, simply turn the grid 180 degrees.
- When it's time to foil, foil with the rib bones pointing up, meat side down. This will prevent the sharp bones from piercing the foil and letting the juices run.
Recommendations on Lifting a Loaded Rig:
Here are a couple methods to lift a loaded Rig from the cooker:
- Cup your fingers under the Adjustable Rig’s upper ring, use your thumbs to hold the top Oval Grid/Rig Extender in place, lift up and out. Move slowly and keep the Rig level. Set it on the work area.
- Or, lift off the Rig Extender & top Oval Grid and set aside. Lift the loaded Adjustable Rig out of the cooker and set in your work area. One way to lift the Rig is: cup your fingers under each side of the top ring, keep the Rig balanced in our fingers, lift up and out. Move slowly. This requires a bigger work area as you are moving two separate pieces.
- To return the loaded Rig to the cooker, reverse the steps you took to remove the Rig.
- 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.
Important: For some, lifting a loaded rig out of the cooker can be a heavy lift. Note a two grid sliding set-up (Oval Stone incl.) weighs approximately 20 pounds without food. We recommend you do a trial lift before actually cooking. If you find the sliding grid set-up(s) to heavy to lift, we recommend you either forgo the set-up(s) or devise a procedure to break down the Rig to perform the lift safely.
It's important to wear proper personal protection when lifting hot and heavy objects. We recommend that your landing area be directly next to the cooker. This insures the quickest lifting time and shortest carrying distance.