At home, we use most commonly cook on our stove or portable barbecue, but the truth is that you can’t take those with you on a camping trip into the great outdoors. So can you use a fire pit for cooking? Which is why a lot of people use their fire pit for cooking. But the question is, should you consider using your fire pit for cooking and if you do, how can you ensure the food you cook is great? Let’s find out how to cook your own food on a fire pit!
Fire Pit Cooking
Use the right fuel or wood
The first thing you want to focus on is to ensure that your fuel is safe and there’s no release of harmful byproducts in the smoke. If you are having wood fires, seasoned hard wood is a very good option since it has a very high burning rate and creates minimal smoke. Ensuring that your kindling and wood is properly dry is essential.
Some of the most common firewood is Australian Ironbark, Oak and if you can get it, Hickory wood makes and excellent smokey flavour to your meat. Another excellent way to impart that “cook on a fire” flavour is to use a grilling plate, to allow some of the flames and smoke to rise up from the firewood into the pan or pot.
Whatever the firewood, making sure that it’s well seasoned and not green at all will make it an absolute pleasure to cook on a fire, rather than a smoky mess! If you can’t get you hands on some good wood, you can also use charcoal, hot coals or heat beads as a source of fire to cook food on.
It helps to have the right equipment
Also, you will need a few accessories like a grill gloves to protect your hands from the intense heat, well prepared cooking surface or grill rack, or a heat-resistant pot for cooking stews and soups.
Having a long-handed lighter (and lighter fluid or fire light cubes) is an easy way to avoid getting burnt when you go to light your fire pit for cooking. You can get them from Bunnings here for only a few bucks.
A couple of cheap pairs of tongs will also make your life easier. These are only a couple of dollars at your local supermarket, and worth every penny. If you can afford it, short tongs and extra long tongs are a good idea. The right tools for the right jobs can make all the difference.
A selection of storage and coverings, such as aluminum foil and cling wrap will also make life easier when cooking on a fire pit or campfire.
Having a cheap bucket, bin or pot is a great way to keep your campsite area clean from rubbish as you cook. You can also put your paper towels for wiping grease or ash in the bin straight away, avoiding them getting in your way and causing more mess.
A cast iron camp oven or dutch oven is also another great option, and can be usually used in conjunction with fire pits to create a slow-cooking option.
It’s important to remember that cooking a hearty meal on an outdoor fire pit can be really fun, but also can be dangerous too.
Keeping your hands away from the open flames is the most obvious safety tip, but if you are using a cast iron grill plate or other steel cooking surfaces, taking care that the grease or olive oil that you use doesn’t flare up with large flames is something to look out for too.
While your regular backyard grill or barbecue has some built in safety features, such as the splash shields and flare-up covers ( especially on a gas grill grate), outdoor fire pits usually are pretty much open flames and a grill. Be careful!
What type of cooking can do you on a fire pit?
What’s great about cooking on a fire pit is that you can prepare a whole range of food for your family and friends.
- Grilling meat over hot coals in your fire pit is very common way of cooking. And, it’s one of those great methods that’s easy to prepare if you have a simple grill grate for the fire pit.
- Cooking on a pot over your fire pit is another excellent option, since you can easily prepare fish or vegetable soup, stews and slow-cooked casseroles.
- Skewers are very good for cooking on a fire pit too. It’s a modern method that can help prepare bite-sized foods, so try to keep it in mind. Just remember, a metal skewer straight off the fire pit is going to be HOT!
- Roasting over charcoal on your fire pit is great too, since you can cook some fatty meat cuts and they will stay naturally moist and tender after long cooking. Some of the most common foods to roast on the fire pit are brisket, lamb ribs or even a whole chicken.
What type of foods are popular for outdoor cooking?
In short, any food that can be cooked over and open flame or wood fire is a great candidate for fire pit cooking. This includes your outdoor cooking staples such as steak, sausages and chops but with a bit of preparation you can start cooking some really interesting options.
Fish and Seafood
Especially good if you are camping on the ocean or near a creek and you are handy with a rod and reel! Cooking seafood on a fire pit requires some extra effort, as it is less suited to cooking on an open fire than other tougher meats. It’s best to keep a close eye on any fish or seafood when on the grill, as they tend to stick to the hot grill grate and fall apart easily.
A family favourite, chicken breasts, thighs and skewers are a easy, cheap and delicious food option to cook on a fire. Marinated in some spices, or simply with some salt and pepper, chicken over the coals is simply one of the most underrated campfire meals.
Beef, Pork and Lamb
Always excellent over the flame, quality cuts of red meat is a staple for fire pit cooking. Seasoned well, and placed on a scorching hot grill grate, a delicious rump steak or lamb chop will grill up beautifully, creating a wonderful caramelised crust, and intense smokey flavour. There’s nothing quite like it and an amazing food for hungry campers.
One of the easiest ( and fun for the kids ) ways to cook veggies on the fire pit is to use skewers to roast them over the fire. Avoiding the intense heat of the flames, its best to cut your vegetables into similar sizes and thread onto a strong metal skewer. This way, you can safety rotate the veggies away from the direct heat of the pit and ensure they are properly cooked inside, and not burned on the outside. Done properly, even your kids will be amazed how good this food can be!
Really? Do hotdogs deserve their own category in this article? Dang right they do. Nothing beats the taste of a perfectly grilled hot dog or bratwurst over the fire pit. That delicious charred texture and smoke from the fire makes this a special event!
Invest in a Grill Grate or BBQ Plate
If you want to create the taste of smoke and fire, then investing in a grill grate is the way to go and the ultimate way to make a fresh and memorable dinner for your camping trip. As the fat from the meat starts to cook and render out, it will drop down into the campfire pit, causing small flare-ups of smoke and flame that will touch the meat and cause an amazing flavour.
As you can see, using the fire pit for cooking your food is an exciting way to cook outdoors, especially when you are camping or traveling. The taste of meats roasted over the fire pit, with their smokey, crispy crust and tender inside is something else and always a hit with tired and hungry campers.
Cooking on fire pits is also extremely practical and flexible too. With a large array of applications, such as slow roasting in the coals in a cast iron camp stove (commonly called a dutch oven) , or quick and fast grilling of steaks and sausages, a fire pit is a winner.
It’s always a good idea to spruce things up and try out new ways of cooking great foods that everyone will enjoy. The convenience of fire pits also cannot be underestimated. If you are already using it as a campfire, it makes sense to make use of the same fuel and cook your meals on it too. Besides, everyone loves to cook on a fire!