Cooking over an open flame is one of my favorite pastimes! There's nothing like cooking over an open flame to generate unique and delectable fragrances and tastes that enhance a wide variety of dishes. This may be done on a gas grill, a charcoal barbecue, a smoker grill, or even in my fireplace.
Cooking over a fire made of genuine hardwood is, by far, my favorite method of cooking. It's hard to beat the taste of a genuine wood fire, even with the best charcoal and smoker cooking techniques.
When food was cooked over an open fire in pre-modern times, it had a rustic and romantic feel to it.
Because technology has made life simpler, fewer people now cook their meals over open fires using actual wood. Cooking over an open flame is now a cinch thanks to gas stoves, barbecues, and easy-to-light charcoal.
Having said that, there is something to be said about spending a leisurely day grilling your supper over a genuine fire. "Quick," "easy," or "the absolute minimum" aren't always what I desire.
Here are some recommendations for individuals who wish to cook with real firewood on their grill, fire pit, or even in their fireplace; for those who want to become a bit more primitive and a lot tastier. Getting it perfect takes time and practice, but I believe you'll like the outcome.
Invest in high-quality hardwoods.
Good firewood, which burns hot and long and emits delicious scents, is at the core of superb wood cooking. Invest in this area and don't cut corners! To create that Smokey, grilled taste in your dish, you must use a good piece of wood. So, what exactly is wrong with this picture? The first thing to remember is to stay away from softwoods altogether.
Softwoods burn quickly and intensely, but they don't burn as long and don't tend to create long-lasting hot embers at their centers. Softwoods like pine, for example, tend to be resinous, and many give off piney or other harsh aromas that, although not unpleasant, do not go well with meals. You can start your fire using softwoods, but for the most part, you'll want to use well-seasoned hardwoods.
They burn longer and hotter because they are denser and heavier. Initiation is more time-consuming but ultimately more rewarding. There are a large number of hardwoods that may be used as cooking fuel, many of which have distinctive and delectable scents and tastes.
Smoky, deep aromas may be achieved by using oak, which is extremely prevalent. Fruit and nut woods appeal to me because of their mellower, almost sweeter scent. If you're able to track down any of these woods, they make wonderful alternatives. Mesquite and hickory are well-known for their use in smoking, but they are also good sources of fuel. Firewood made from old grapevine cuttings is ideal for those who live in a vineyard!
Prepare your fire in advance.
Starting a hardwood fire might take some time to get going. Because you want to cook as much as possible using embers, you should allow your fire plenty of time to burn down before adding food.
If you intend to cook a lot and your grill or fire pit is large enough, it might take several hours to create the fire, feed it until there is a solid core of embers, and then wait for the massive flames to go down before you begin cooking.
The fact is that most people don't understand that heavy-duty charcoal grills can also be used to cook over a wood fire if they are large enough. While I like to conduct this sort of wood fire cooking over an outside fire pit with a grate, Char-Broil and Weber 22-1/2" charcoal kettle barbecues are among the grills I've used successfully.
Embers in the Kitchen
Cooking over the coals of a genuine fire is the best way to cook with real firewood. Why? When a fresh fire is lit, it doesn't produce much heat. The wood is also ablaze, with big flames shooting out of it. The radiating heat from a grill grate will be lost in favor of the open flames that will engulf your meal if you place it over this young fire.
This is a recipe for catastrophe when it comes to grilling! In little time at all, the exterior of your meal will catch fire and burn you to a crisp!
To prevent this from happening, be patient and start early. Although they don't have large flames, the red-burning embers put off a lot of heat. Keep adding wood for a time to keep the bottom of your fire pit or grill hot and ablaze with beautiful red flames. After that, let the top wood burn down until it's simply a giant pile of red embers and no more flames are visible.
Since they have smaller flames and are less prone to overcooking your food, this kind of ember is ideal for grilling. When the grill is hot, put the grate across and begin cooking. Stirring the embers with a poker helps to provide more oxygen to the wood, which increases the heat for a while if you're cooking a lot and the fire is starting to fade.
To add extra fuel, you may place more firewood on the side and only move it over to the cooking area after it has burned down and is no longer producing enormous flames.
Using a rotisserie to cook
Rotisserie cooking is a great technique to get the most out of your wood-fired cooking. Grilling and camping gear businesses sell a variety of rotisserie contraptions. The main feature of these devices is a rotating spit, which may either be powered by a motor or spun by hand.
This has several benefits. First and foremost, for big roasts like entire fowl and pigs, it provides you with a highly even, steady cooking heat throughout the flesh, ensuring that your meal remains delicious and evenly done.
Large roasts may be damaged by being placed on top of hot embers too early in the cooking process, which results in a charred outside and an undercooked inside. In addition, since the rotisserie can hold your food a substantial distance above your wood-burning fire, you can even cook over open flames without your food burning.
As long as the temperature is high enough, you won't be able to see the flames, but you will be able to smell them. You don't have to burn your wood to embers to begin cooking, although some embers do help provide enough heat. It's one of my favorite methods for grilling legs of lamb, full chickens, and game birds.
Cooking Over a Fire
There are times of the year when it's too chilly to cook outside. While many of us may not know it, many of us have a fantastic genuine wood cooking area right in our own homes. In the past, many homes had fireplaces that served as major cooking areas, but now they are more often used for heating and ambiance.
The majority of people underestimate the difficulty of cooking over an open fire. This is one of my favorite methods of cooking. Special equipment is required for the majority of fireplace cooking methods. There are fireplace cranes that let you cook stews, soups, or coffee in a Dutch oven or kettle over the flames.
It is possible to grill a wide variety of items in your fireplace using a grill grate that sits on top of the fuel grate.
Even in front of the fireplace, some rotisseries gently spin your roasts. When it comes to cooking in a fireplace, there is the option of using a string-turning method.
As a method of roasting lamb, I have used string-turning to cook a wide range of other meats, including entire chickens and tri-tip. Kitchen twine and some screws or hooks on the mantel above your fireplace are all you need. You have a poor man's rotisserie without a lot of additional equipment since the roast's weight gently turns it on the string!
A Different Option
It's also possible to infuse food with a wood-smoke taste without putting in the time and effort of making your wood-smoked products. As an alternative, you may use smoked wood chips or pieces on a barbeque or specialized smoker grill.
Smoker cooking is a great way to bring out the most of your food's taste. While cooking using charcoal or gas avoids some of the hassles of cooking with actual firewood, you still need to be careful.
If you've never cooked with real firewood before, I hope these recommendations will help you get started in the right direction. Use caution while working with any kind of flammable liquid or gas. To ensure that just you and your food are cooked, observe all standard precautions against fire.