BBQ Guru DigiQ DX2 for long, slow barbecuing

As someone that likes to grill outdoors, I’ve become enamored with my Big Green Egg (BGE), a ceramic egg-shaped BBQ grill that can both cook steaks at 700 degreesF as well as slowly cook a brisket for 4 or 5 hours at 275F. The BGE’s main attributes are its ability to cook in its enclosed insulated ceramic oven to keep the heat and moisture within, and do it over a wide temperature range. The Big Green Egg uses wood charcoal, meaning burnt wood broken into pieces about 4 inches in size.

Making a steak on the BGE is quite simple. The key is the high temperature and using a good cut of sirloin. Simply heat the grill to 700 degrees  put the steak onto the grill directly over the wood for about 2 to 3 minutes on a side. Before cooking I season the steak with salt and pepper or use a dry rub. The results are comparable to what is served in a fine steak house.

Making turkey, rack of lamb, or a brisket requires a little more care, because you want to keep the temperature at 250 to 375 degrees, depending on the meat. With the Big Green Egg you control temperature by adjusting the intake vent at the bottom of the grill and the output vent at the top. These adjustments control airflow. More wide open means more flow and a hotter temperature.

Normally it requires checking the cooking temperature a couple of times an hour and making slight adjustments to the vents to keep the temperature near the proper setting, or at best within about +/- 10 degrees. But an invention from BBQ Guru of Pennsylvania makes this much easier, more accurate, and automatic.

The DigiQ DX2 device consists of the controller unit that contains the electronics and a display.  Two temperature probes plug into it, one that’s used to read the cooking temperature inside the grill and the second that’s inserted into the meat to monitor its temperature.

There’s also a fan unit with grill-specific adapter that attaches to the lower vent of the grill and plugs into the controller.

While it sounds complicated, it’s really straightforward to set up.  Once the fan is attached and the probes positioned inside the grill, you simply set the cooking temperature and the meat-done temperature you want, and the device does the work. It monitors the cooking  the meat temperatures and automatically adjusts the speed of the fan to maintain the cooking temperature at its given setting. As the desired meat temperature is reached, you receive an alert that your food is ready. But during the entire cooking process over several hours, the cooking temperature will remain essentially constant, within about 2 to 4 degrees.

In my testing, cooking a brisket and a large turkey (not at the same time!), it worked as designed. Temperatures hardly varied. On other occassions without this device I’d work hard to keep the temperature within 7 or 8 degrees of goal.

The DigiQ detects when the lid is open to avoid turning up the fan as the grill suddenly cools. It also reduces cooking temperature as your meat approaches its done temperature, to avoid overcooking.

The DigiQ DX2 sells for about $275, not inexpensive, but a very valuable tool that can save lots of time and help you perfect your cooking. It’s very popular among BBQ cooks and is widely used by Big Green Egg owners. In fact, Big Green Egg sells their own version that’s identical, but adds their own branding.

BBQ Guru also sells a higher priced model called the CyberQ Wifi. It alerts you using WiFi on your phone of the cooking progress. I tried both and found the CyberQ was too complicated to set up, reminding me the old days of configuring a network on a PC.

BBQ Guru also sells an adapter that works with Weber and other brands of grills. If you’re serious about grilling, this is a product worth considering. After returning the loaner, I liked it so much I bought one. (One of the perils of doing reviews!)

by Phil Baker