There's something undeniably satisfying about food grilled over fire. Walden has you covered whether you are a newbie to open flame grilling or an old hand looking to add some tips to your arsenal.
How do you grill over a fire pit?
- Create Space - Building your fire half the pit creates space for indirect heat for gentler grilling.
- Have Patience - Building a good fire takes time; expect at least 35-40 minutes to develop steady heat.
- Use Seasoned Wood - Green (freshly cut) or damp wood is smoky wood that tends to crack and spit. Seasoned wood will help you create an even heat that doesn't billow with excessive smoke.
- Prepare for Flares - Have sand or water to hand to tamp down excitable flames.
- Use a Grate - Pick a sturdy, thick steel grate that allows you easy access to the fire below to manage logs and coals, like the Walden Fire Pit BBQ Grilling Grate. It's possible to cook over a fire without one, but infinitely easier with the right equipment.
What Firewood is Best for Cooking Over a Firepit?
Always choose seasoned, dry wood to grill over. Hardwoods, fruitwoods, and nut woods are your best choice. Softwoods, like pine, cedar, fir, and cypress, are a poor choice due to the sap and terpenes they contain. The smoke they produce can lend a bitter, unpleasant taste to food. Never use wood that's painted or treated to burn. Never cook over moldy wood.
What are the Best Foods to Grill over a Campfire?
Aside from steaks, burgers, hotdogs, and corn, what goes great on a grill? You can make darn near anything over a firepit equipped with a sturdy BBQ grate with the right equipment, an attentive cook, and a can-do attitude. Dishes that require precise temperature control or a lot of hands-on fiddling are not likely to work well over a fire. Otherwise, you can bake pies, cakes, and bread. You can roast and smoke. You can grill, steam, and sautee. Here are some campfire grilling favorites:
- Pizza - The heat of a wood fire mimics a brick pizza oven. Sear the crust on both sides and pre-cook your toppings before crowning your pizza. Rotate it while waiting for the cheese to melt for the best results.
- Sturdy Fish - Salmon, halibut, tuna, trout, and swordfish are all sturdy enough to go right on the grill. A well-oiled and seasoned BBQ grate helps keep them from sticking. Want to grill up small fish? Skewer them.
- Fiery Fruits - Strawberries, pineapples, apples, pears, bananas, and peaches can all take the heat. Use skewers, foil packets, or for sturdier fruits, oil the grate and sear them right on the surface. The sugars in the fruit caramelize from grilling and result in a delectable dessert.
- Grilling Veg - Mushrooms, peppers, onions, summer squash, and romaine lettuce all benefit from an open flame and cook up quickly, ten minutes or less.
Pro Grilling Tips
- Don't Fiddle - Leave the food where it is and let the heat work. If your meat is stuck, let it cook a little longer.
- Don't Squish - While it sounds fun, you lose all the delicious juiciness with every spatula press.
- Give Meat a Rest - Before grilling, let meat rest on the counter for about 30 minutes to come to room temp. After grilling, let it rest for 5-15 minutes for the juices to settle. The larger the hunk, the longer the resting period.
- Undercook, Just - The residual heat will keep your food cooking once removed from the heat.
What are the Must-Have Campfire Cooking Accessories?
- Cast Iron - For open fire cooking, cast iron is king. Don't be intimidated by caring for cast iron. They retain and distribute heat perfectly and allow you to concoct a range of delightful dishes right over your fire pit. With easy maintenance, these pans will last generations. A chainmail scrubber will clean any residue with ease, dry thoroughly, lightly oil (1 tsp is enough), and set over low heat for 20-30 minutes to preserve the seasoning.
- Long-Handled Tools - Manage your food (or coals) without burning your hands in the heat. Grill gloves are also helpful here.
- Wire Brush - To keep your grates clean between uses. A clean grate is a must for safe grilling.
- Digital Meat Thermometer - A thermometer ensures you serve safe meals. Time is not the most reliable way to verify food is safe.
- Blow Through Fire Stoker - Oxygen is essential to managing a steady fire to cook over. Walden offers a fire pit stoker poker that allows you to control airflow to your fire without disturbing your meal.
There's something primal about cooking a meal over an open fire. With the right tools and a little patience, you can serve phenomenal fire-cooked meals to crow over.