Open fire cooking
– a tradition that never grows old

Humans have been cooking with fire for hundreds of thousands of years. We associate it with more than taste, because it isn’t just food. It is a moment that we share with ourselves and those around us. It is an experience.

Cooking over embers is not only a great way to spend some quality time, it also brings out the best flavours, whether preparing meat or vegetables. With high quality ingredients and some basic knowledge, you really can't go wrong. So without further ado, here are our best tips for open-fire cooking:

The Fire

Ideally the wood you use should be kiln-dried, but a well-seasoned hardwood works great and adds to the flavour. It should contain less than 20% moisture, or the logs will lose too much heat. (Avoid pine logs, as they will burn too fast and create a bitter-tasting smoke).

Mixing your wood with charcoal will give you a great constant heat source. Unless you are using a skillet or pot, be patient and wait for the wood and coals to burn down to achieve a strong, constant heat of embers to cook with. Slow and steady cooking reduces the risk of flare ups and gives you more control of the grill.

The Meat

Instead of relying on set cooking times, invest in a meat probe to keep an eye on the internal temperature of your food whilst it cooks. Cook your meat until it is a couple of degrees below your final cooking temperature, then set aside to rest; the internal temperature will continue to rise. Resting is just as important as the cooking, so be patient and you'll be rewarded with beautiful melt-in-the-mouth meat.

To make sure your food doesn’t dry out, remember to baste or glaze with a tasty sauce or any leftover meat marinade, if used. You want your meat to be soft and moist inside with the beautiful charring and caramelisation from the bbq on the outside.

The Vegetables

Halved peppers, portobello mushrooms, courgettes, thickly sliced aubergines, halved little Gem lettuce, cauliflower steaks, corn, asparagus, and spring greens all work well for grilling.

You can also cook potatoes and leeks in their skins, straight on the hot coals for about 45 mins. Vegetable skins create natural protection for the soft flesh within so don't be put off by the charred outer layer. Once blackened, slice in half and remove the sweet, tender flesh from the outer layers, then toss it with herbs and butter.

A note on safety:
Fire always requires a great deal of care and respect. It should only be lit in places where it is allowed, and never (ever) when there is a fire ban. A safe fire is placed on gravel or sandy ground, with stones and gravel underneath and a ring of stones around it. The fire should not be placed on or next to a rock face, neither on peatland nor moss. You should also avoid starting a fire near trees, tree stumps or dry grass, and never when it is windy. Make sure to always keep a bucket of water close at hand.