Cooking with Wood is fun and your food will be full of flavour. A wood fire barbecue can be seen as a bit more daunting than a gas barbecue, but it doesn’t have to be! It’s easy as long as you remember a few things.
- It takes Longer – When cooking with wood it takes longer than on a gas or charcoal barbecue. You ideally want to cook on glowing embers, not on open flames which will spark and burn your food. To get that core of hot wood embers takes time. You need to burn the wood for at least an hour until it falls apart as embers and then you can add your grill grate and cook over them. If you are rotisserie cooking you can cook over the open fire as long as your food is at a great enough distance from the flames.
- Best Flavour – Smoke from Firewood has some of the best flavours that are infused into your food. This is especially true if you use good fruit woods like applewood. With wood chips and a smoker box you can re-create some of this real wood smoke flavour to an extent on your grill, but the ultimate is from real premium firewood embers.
- Natural Heat – Gas Barbecues or artificial charcoal rely on chemicals to help supply heat. While this may not be a big deal, most of us prefer a 100% pure heat source. Natural firewood is one way to avoid the use of chemicals. Another is natural hardwood lump charcoals.
- Intense Heat – Cooking with wood gives off a very intense heat as well as subtle smoke flavours.
- It’s Fun – Cooking with fire is fun! Once you get your wood fire going, tending it, adding wood and watching it burn (while having a few cold beverages and a chat) is very rewarding. When you finally have a delicious meal out of it, it is especially rewarding. Sure, it takes a bit more time, but it is worth it and part of the whole experience!
- Make sure you have plenty of Embers – If you are cooking over the wood embers alone, they tend to loose heat faster than charcoal. Charcoal, especially industrially made pressed charcoal briquettes, is made to supply long-lasting heat and can often stay hot enough to cook over for hours. Wood embers get cool faster. The way to extend your cooking time is to make sure you have a deep core of embers before beginning to cook. Additional wood can be added to the side to replenish the supply and as it becomes embers, pushed under the grilling food. You don’t want the fresh wood directly under your grilling food (unless on a high rotisserie) or the flames will burn it!
- You don’t need special equipment – A fire pit grill is the easiest way to cook over wood embers. If you don’t have one already, you’ll need to buy a fire pit. Additionally, for longer roasting of larger meats (like whole chickens or leg of lamb) you need a rotisserie device. Both a fire pit and a rotisserie can be built from scratch, or a hole in the ground or a temporary brick fire pit can be used for cooking with wood.