We recently had the opportunity to test out the Bubba Keg convection grill and let me tell you, it kicks some ass. Having cooked on a Big Green Egg I can honestly say it stacks up nicely. There are some pros and cons to each, which I’ll get into today.
On the same camping trip where I gave you the camping style shrimp boil recipe, we tested out the Bubba Keg to the extreme. Upon arrival on Friday at our campground/gun range/
smelting can area/archery golf range, airfield racing strip, fishing hole I needed to season the grill. However, first I have to point out real quick my favorite part of this thing: the trailer hitch adapter.
It’s easy to attach (although requires two people) but it’s much easier than stuffing a smoker in the back and better than a trailer model for off-road terrain which I knew I would be plowing through. Okay, on to seasoning.
I applied some Canola oil to the grates and the damper to get started. (Random fact: Canola oil is genetically engineered from the Rapeseed plant. I guess in the 14th century they weren’t very PC. Who would name a plant Rapeseed)? Anyway, I took a small pile of lump charcoal to get it going. I used a very small amount thinking I would burn it up to 500 degrees or so and then let it burn out. Little did I know it would get extremely hot (see above picture), and would last at least 6 hours or more because it was still around 400 when I went to sleep. I knew right then it could hold heat just as well as the Green Egg. Another interesting thing to note, even at 800 degrees the outside was warm to the touch but not scalding as you would think. It has double steel walls and oven grade insulation to keep the heat in.
Day two arrives and much to our delight our tents stood up to the torrential rain and thunderstorm that hit us during the night and had stopped by the time we woke up. Nor did we have hangovers. WIN. For lunch I thought something simple would suffice and I had some chicken thighs marinating in Houston style BBQ sauce I scored from my barbecue sauce of the month club. So I fired it up again with about the same amount of charcoal (I was also testing out the Kingsford Competition Briquets for the first time as well, which performed nicely).
The first thing I had to get used to was the heat control. It takes a bit of getting used to but after messing with it for a bit I got it to where I wanted it. They have numbers on the top and bottom dampers so you can keep track of exactly how you set it. I scoffed at “cooking by numbers” at first but it was actually pretty handy. I tossed the chicken on the bottom grate set at the higher level (bottom grate has two levels, super sear and regular sear I’ll call them) and brushed them with some more sauce and let them cook. Final result: juicy Houston style chicken thighs.
In between lunch and dinner, we did…outdoor stuff.
The evening meal was the one I was really concentrating on. We originally started with fresh steaks and potatoes but during our “outdoor stuff” we added duck, four frog legs, and two squirrels to the mix. The keg was still warm when I was getting ready so I just added a few more briquets to the pile and let it heat up to about 550 degrees (I wanted to use the searing method for the steaks). I gave the steaks a good rubdown of Fast Eddies Steak Seasoning (available Thursday), and did some seasoning to the wild things that got blasted during “outdoor stuff.”
Cooking time! I started out with the potatoes, as I really wasn’t sure how long they were going to take. We wrapped them in foil and set them on the top rack. The top rack is a handy feature for cooking at a bit lower temp farther from the heat and for smoking. It swings out so you can access the bottom grates. It does turn into a pain when you’re not using it, so just take it out if you’re not going to. About 30 minutes into the potatoes, I checked them and decided to put them on the bottom rack to finish them off, and put the duck, squirrel and frog legs on the top for some appetizer action. The duck was small (as were the frog legs obviously) and only took about 8 minutes to cook. The duck came out spectacular. I was told the frog legs were good as well (I had a bit, but I don’t really like frog legs). The squirrel we’ll leave for another day
Steak time! At around 40 minutes the potatoes were done (quicker than I though) so I needed to get the steaks going. I had lowered the grate down to the lowest setting and tossed them on. I seared them for approximately 3-4 minutes per side and they came out perfectly medium rare and were nice and juicy. Well done Bubba Keg.
Now for a little rundown on the features of the Bubba Keg:
- Setup: Only required a screwdriver. Took me about 30 minutes to assemble and I needed help attaching it to the stand. It actually took me longer to unpack the thing.
- Airflow Dampers: Took some getting used to, and the numbering system is probably unnecessary but really made it easy.
- Cooking Grates: 3 tier system worked pretty well. The top sliding one gets in the way if you’re not using it, but easily removable.
- Bottle Openers: Errr, duh. Everything needs bottle openers. They even give you two on the front handle.
- Base: It’s sturdy and has wheels, but it’s kind of hard to get the keg on and off. Takes at least two people and three makes it easier. It would be nice to have wheel locks.
- Multipurpose Tool: I forgot to snap a pic, but this is one handy accessory. Rake ashes out of the bottom, adjust dampers, lift your grates in and out, etc.
- Removable Side Trays: Plastic, snap on and off really easy. Big enough for me, although my friend Jay demanded bigger ones.
- Cover: Wait? I didn’t get one. I’m out of garage space and need a cover. My only big complaint.
- Versatility: Superb. This thing can pretty much cook anything.
- Smoker: It doesn’t come with a heat deflector, drip or water pan which I would like to have seen included but others have smoked on it and say it comes out great (I’ll be trying it soon and keep you posted).
- Look: It looks like a keg man, super sweet. I got lots of comments on my three hour journey with it!
Overall a great cooker for the price and easily comparable if not better than the Green Egg. You can pick up a Bubba Keg at Home Depot or select Sam’s Club stores for $599 (they recently reduced it from the starting price of $799 so super great deal)!
- Steaks courtesy of cow #18 from the Lazy H Ranch in Colorado.
- Duck courtesy of himself for flying over the pond when we actually had our shotguns out.
- Squirrel courtesy of themselves for being stupid enough to come out of their little hideout.
- Frog courtesy of Warren and his 22.
- Live music courtesy of Jukeboxx Media.