Cooking on an Open Fire – How to do it Right
Who doesn’t enjoy cooked food on an open fire? The sizzle of the flame, the searing of meat, grill marks on a beautiful steak and the wafting smell of smoke would make anyone salivate.
Just because you love something doesn’t mean you’re doing it right. Open flame cooking is more complicated than just finding kindling and striking a match. That’s why we’re here to help. The summers are far to short, so you don’t want to waste any opportunity to eat a delicious meal cooked to perfection on a fire you safely started.
Let’s start by reviewing some rookie mistakes. Next, we’ll look at tips for both campsite and backyard fire pit cooking. Additionally, this article looks at some of the best meats and fishes to grill.
These tips are designed to help low carb eaters enjoy the grilling season without cheating on their diets.
While mistakes are only natural, some are easy to avoid. Here are some rookie mistakes that are important to recognize so that you don’t fall prey to one or more. These can ensure that the person cooking is safe and that the fire will be controlled until it is extinguished.
Not being prepared enough is a big no no. Don’t worry about feeling like a boy scout. You need to adopt their mantra of “always be prepared”, so you don’t find yourself ill-equipped to make dinner while camping.
You need to bring the right tools and gear, especially if you burn your food or need to make extra servings. Under no circumstance should you rely on a campsite or a host to provide the necessities to start a fire or cook your food.
Lacking patience can undermine your cooking or fire-starting efforts. It takes time for meat to cook and for a flame to do its thing. Because a fire is usually just coals and logs, cooking on an open fire is reliant on weather conditions and wind speed. Once the fire is raging, you might still have to wait up to 45 minutes for the fire to burn down to the appropriate cooking level. It’s a process so stick with it and enjoy the ride.
Another mistake is cooking your food directly over the flame. By cooking right over the hottest part of the grill, you’re subjecting food to more heat for longer periods. This creates an effect called, “carryover cooking”, where food continues to cook once it is removed from the heat.
This means a piece of meat could move from medium rare to medium while resting.
Remember, food cooked over an open fire has a higher potential for carryover cooking than food cooked in an oven. To avoid this, simply remove food from the fire a touch before it has reached desired temperature or doneness and cover with tinfoil while it rests.
Select your meats strategically because not every protein is meant for the open fire. Certain foods like duck breast and bacon drip fat. This makes them a safety hazard as they could cause the fire to roar out of control. This is not only dangerous but the extreme heat can cause the meat to quickly overcook.
Some meats also make cooking that much more difficult. A good rule to follow is that if a food needs oil or is best when fried then avoid it altogether.
Tips for Campfires
Campfires are a little different than backyard pits. There is less margin for error and you only have the materials and tools that you brought along. If you are excited to cook food and veggies while camping, then make sure you know what you’re doing.
Invest in the right gear because there’s no substitute and you can’t forage for metal utensils. Make sure you avoid anything plastic as it burns and contains toxins, this includes pots and pans with plastic handles. You will also want to buy some heavy-duty gloves and sturdy closed-toe shoes, both of which will protect you from heat, ambers and splatter.
Prior to going camping, give thought to the best method. You can cook with skewers or barbecue on a grill or you can even use a Dutch oven. If you are planning to enjoy only hot dogs and marshmallows than go for the skewer option as they allow for optimal control. If you want to make a chili or stew, then a Dutch oven is your best bet. And, of course, for steaks, fish and hamburgers you should toss them directly on a hot grill.
Don’t be careless with proteins because the last thing you want is to be sick while in the middle of the woods. If you don’t properly transport and keep meat than you are playing with fire, so to speak. Place all perishable foods in a cooler packed with ice. Do not remove it until it is time to prepare it for cooking. It’s important to note that food-borne pathogens can breed within the conditions that thrive between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lastly, learn to put out, clean up and secure a fire site. Always have a bucket of water or sand nearby. It’s not the cleanest way to put out a fire but it works fast and can advert a more serious situation. Once the fire is out and the ambers are no longer burning, use a stick or skewer to stir the ashes. Next, pour more sand or water on the site and repeat until the site is cold and drenched.
What to Grill?
Now that you have a better idea of how to start and control a fire, it’s time to pick the right proteins so that you can enjoy some delicious meals among scenic nature. Remember to keep it low carb so you can have the energy you need to enjoy some fun outdoor activities while camping.
Some meats that are perfect for grilling are sausages, chicken, beef cubes or chuck and thick steaks. Whatever meats you choose, you should ask your butcher to cut thicker portions and to trim some of the fat.
If you want to pair meat with a fruit or veggie, try one of these that are ideal for open flame cooking: tomatoes (cut thick), peppers or apples. Pineapple is another great option because it caramelizes so beautifully creating a perfect balance between sweet and tart.
Fish fans have some delicious options too. Bass is a great fish for campfire cooking. Salmon is also good as it is thick enough to hold up to skewering. Other fish and seafood to try, include shrimp and tilapia.
Cooking with fire should only enhance the flavour. Use your favourite low carb recipes to find meals that are enhanced by cooking outdoors on open fire.
Shop at the Low Carb Grocery!
The Low Carb Grocery has tons of wonderful ingredients that you can enjoy while camping or hosting friends and family in your backyard firepit. Choose ones that can enhance flavour or kick the heat up a notch.
There’s nothing better than preparing and eating healthy low carb meals while outdoors!