Outdoor Cooking – How to Make the Most of Your BBQ/Firepit

Nothing beats the primal joy of cooking over an open fire – the wind in your hair, the heat of the fire warming your face, and the smell of burning wood and smoking meat.

Outdoor cooking is something we humans have been doing for as long as we’ve been the dominant species on this planet, and there’s something about it that just feels right. It’s more than a way of preparing food – it’s a time-honoured ritual that connects us to our ancient ancestors. However, it’s not something that we do daily anymore, making it a rare treasure rather than an everyday occurrence. So, to ensure the few times we do enjoy an outdoor cookout, a few good tips can really help us make the most of it. In this short post, we’ll cover 7 tips to help you make the most of your BBQ or firepit.

Tip 1: Using the Right Fuel Source

First and foremost is the fuel source you use. You can’t cook without fire, and every fire needs a fuel source to keep it going. Wood and charcoal are both valid options, but there are important differences between the two. Charcoal offers a more even burn, but the smoke tends to be more irritating to the lungs and it creates a reasonably harsh smoky flavour. Wood, on the other hand, offers a slightly less even heat distribution. However, assuming it’s properly dried, offers a far more pleasant smoky flavour and produces less harsh smoke. If you’re looking for ethically sourced British wood, you can buy firewood online at retailers like CoziLogs. However, there are plenty of other sellers to be found online too. Just make sure it’s certified ethically sourced, and it comes from the UK to ensure you’re not doing harm with your purchase.

Tip 2: Use the Right Equipment

Having the right tools for the job is 50% of the work when it comes to outdoor cooking. Tongs are a must-have for both types of outdoor cooking, but especially when cooking in a firepit as the grill, if you use one at all, tends to be nearer to the heat source. Other long-handled cooking utensils, like spatulas and a basting brush, are also good additions to your outdoor cooking arsenal. Other items to consider include a high-quality pan, heat-resistant gloves, a grill grate, and an apron. All in all, using the appropriate equipment can significantly enhance your outdoor cooking experience, ensuring not only the quality of your food but also your safety. Reading up on outdoor cooking tips, but still need to get yourself a BBQ? – Check out our review of the Everdure Force by Heston Blumenthal

Tip 3: Cook the Right Type of Food

Cooking in a firepit is very different from cooking on a barbecue, so it’s important to cook the right kind of food for your situation. Pick a recipe that suits your cooking method and equipment. For example, a firepit is perfect for foods that benefit from slow cooking and the smoky flavours of wood, such as whole fish, large cuts of meat, or vegetables wrapped in foil. You can place them directly on the grill plate above the fire or on a pan/skillet in the fire to distribute the heat more evenly. On the other hand, a barbecue is ideal for foods that cook quickly, like burgers, sausages, and cut-up vegetables. These foods require more direct and consistent heat to achieve the perfect sear and cook evenly, which is easier to achieve on a barbecue. You can also tailor your food choices to your setting and the level of effort you want to put in. If you’ll be spending a lot of time with guests and don’t want to watch your food constantly, picking foods that cook slower generally means you have to spend less time actually cooking the food. 

Tip 4: Use High-Quality Ingredients

Using high-quality ingredients makes a big difference regardless of how you’re cooking. Sticking to seasonal ingredients will allow you to benefit from the extra quality that comes with seasonal fruit, veg, and meat and can help you save some money too. It also supports sustainable farming practices since your food doesn’t have to be shipped halfway across the world before you cook it. By choosing seasonal and high-quality ingredients, you not only elevate the taste of your food but also contribute to a more sustainable food system, often at a lower cost compared to out-of-season or lower-quality alternatives. There are many online stores that focus on seasonal ingredients, often shipped directly from the farm they were produced at. If you’re looking for something more gourmet, check out BBQ Gourmet.  which offers a range of different gourmet marinades, rubs, sauces, and other ingredients. 

Tip 5: Monitor Your Cooking Temperature

Cooking outdoors over a fire is very different from cooking indoors over a steady heat source. Not only are there large temperature swings due to the fire itself, but the wind can also further increase these temperature swings by blowing the fire away from/towards the grill. Undercooked meat or meat that’s burnt on the outside and raw on the inside is all too common when cooking over a fire, so it’s important to monitor your cooking temperature carefully. Using a thermometer is recommended as it can help you ensure your meat is fully cooked before serving.

Tip 6: Prepare Ahead of Time

Preparation is key when it comes to maximising your outdoor cooking experience. Marinating meats, chopping vegetables, and assembling skewers are all things you should do in advance to ensure you’re not doing everything at once when you start the fire. This preparation allows for more relaxation and socialisation during the actual cooking process, helping you enjoy your outdoor cooking experience instead of spending it stressed out of your mind. Organising everything you’ll need when cooking beforehand is a big part of this too, ensuring you have everything at arm’s reach when you get started. Want some tips for preparing for and hosting the ultimate summer BBQ? – Check out our post covering expert BBQ tips.

Tip 7: Keep it Simple

Last but not least – keep things simple. Outdoor cooking is supposed to be fun, so making sure the experience isn’t just manageable but also enjoyable might just be the best tip we can give you. Simple will mean different things for different people and it doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t try something new. Just don’t over-stress yourself and enjoy the experience.

The Final Sizzle: Key Takeaways for Outdoor Cooking Using BBQs & Firepits

All-in-all, outdoor cooking should be fun for everyone involved, be it the guests you’re entertaining or you as the person cooking the food. By following the tips laid out in this post, you can be sure of a fantastic afternoon/evening.

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