Pitmaster Pro Tip: How to Build a Campfire for Over the Fire Cooking
Author: Pitmaster Rosalie Pareja
Over the fire cooking is a true art form, however a lot more approachable than you might think. Our Lead Pitmaster Rosalie walks us through the basics of fire building and cooking over open flame.
To get started, check out this video:
The Basics of Over the Fire Cooking
How to build a campfire
There are many ways to build a campfire in many mediums to cook over! We are going to start with the most basic of them all, the log cabin. Building a campfire has four main components - tinder, kindling, firewood, and air.
Tinder is anything little and small they can catch on fire fairly quickly. Using what nature has to offer, I like to use little pieces of palm, log shavings, etc. Second is the kindling, which are twigs and small sticks that can catch on a little bit longer.
Third is what we all know, the firewood.
Depending on what you’re cooking, you’ll use certain types of wood, but for now we are going with basic oak. To get the fire going, you need to assemble your log cabin. Throughout the log cabin, there needs to be layers of tinder and kindling. If you follow these steps, your fire should light in no time! But once your fire is lit, you need to make sure to push air into it to keep it going.
Maintaining a fire and building the zones: Keep additional kindling and larger tender like palm branches or fallen branches with brown leaves. That will continue to keep that fire going.
Once your fire is starting to burn down, you’ll see coals start to form from the wood. This is what we cook with!
From there, you can create your different zones for cooking. You can essentially set up a natural stove, with different temperatures by setting your heat zones.
- For a low heat zone. you’ll have a thin layer of white coals.
- For a medium heat, you’ll use some of the bigger coals and stack them up.
- For a medium high heat, a little kindling to give it some flame, and for your high zone you’ll just wanna have goals with a log in flames.
Pro Tip: Using a high heat meat thermometer for the ambient temperature of each zone is how I keep it consistent.
Cooking a steak with Colorado Campfire by The Spice Guy from our "Flame & Fortune" BBQ box? After seasoning, cook the steak over medium-high coals for 3 rounds of 2 minutes each side or until 132F internal temp.