Grilling involves placing the food under hot coals and is one of the most common methods used in camping. With grilling, you can feel the smell of the food while you watch it cook. This method offers a quicker way of preparing delicious meals without having to clean up a huge mess. The image below shows an example of cooking with the use of a grill.
Charcoal briquettes or wood coals
Charcoal briquettes are available in most shops and tend to be easier to transport compared to wood. Most campers find charcoal briquettes more convenient because they come presoaked with lighter fluid, which makes them easier to light. The image below shows how charcoal briquettes look like.
Wood is preferred because it does not require any lighter fluid. These fluids are not suitable for the environment and cause pollution if overused. The smoke from wood adds a subtle flavor to the food. One right thing with wood is that any type is usable as long as it is dry. For grilling, hardwoods would be preferable because they can retain heat for a longer time compared to other woods. One of the biggest disadvantages with wood usage is that it takes a longer time before it provides a reasonable flame that can be used for cooking.
This can be very frustrating if you need to prepare a quick meal. The photo below shows an example of wood coal from a campfire.
MATERIALS REQUIRED TO SET UP A GRILL
• A metal grate or grill The campsite may be having their grill, but it is preferable to carry yours because of hygiene. Grills are not hard to come by because you can find them in most shops that sell kitchenware. You can even bring your oven rack and balance it between the stones in your fire pit. That is a grill for you
• Tongs Mostly needed when you need to spin your food to ensure it gets heated evenly.
• Long-handled spatula Can be used for several purposes like adding flavor, salt or other ingredients to your food. It can also be used to spin your food to make sure heat is distributed evenly.
• Firewood and kindling, or charcoal and lighter fluid This is how you are going to produce your fire. In fact, these are the most valuable materials because they will be your source of fire. If you are using wood, make sure it is dry enough.
• A freestanding barbecue or fire pit Some campsites offer a freestanding barbecue while others require that you carry your own. A freestanding barbecue can be bulky, and it is advisable that you use the one provided. For the fire pit, you can use the one at the camping site, or you can make your own as described earlier in this chapter.
Preparing charcoal briquettes
»» USING FAST-LIGHTING OR ‘LIGHT-IN-BULB’ BRIQUETTES These briquettes come presoaked with lighter fluid. You only need to place them in your fire pit or freestanding barbecue and light them with a match. For the case of ‘light-in-bag’ briquettes, you place the entire unopened bag and light it. The briquettes have to burn for 30-40 minutes before you start grilling. Once they are glowing, it means your fire is ready, and you can spread the coal to ensure the heat is spread evenly.
»» USING A CHIMNEY STARTER Using a ‘chimney starter’ is the most environmentally friendly way of using charcoal briquettes. A ’chimney starter’ is a cylindrical device that is used to light briquettes without the use of lighter fluid. A ‘chimney starter’ needs to be placed in the fire pit/grate. Stuff pieces of paper at the bottom section of the chimney while you fill the top part with briquettes. Ignite the stuffed papers while you blow the opening at the bottom to ensure the briquettes ignite faster. Once the coals have caught fire, it can take a period of around 15-30 minutes before they can be used to grill your food. Once your briquettes start glowing, it means you have enough heat, tip the starter and pour the coals into the fire pit or gra te. Again, spread the coals to ensure your heat is evenly distributed.
»» USING BRIQUETTES WITH LIGHTER FLUID Place your briquettes inside a fire pit or grate and wet them with the lighter fluid leaving them to soak for around 3-4 minutes. Light the briquettes and let them burn for around 30-40 minutes before you start grilling. Spread them to ensure your heat is evenly distributed.
For all the three different methods, one way of identifying whether your briquettes are ready or not is through observation. When you notice the briquettes glowing red and covered in white ash, it means they are ready, and you can start your grilling.
When using wood, one thing is to ensure that your fire is not very large. An overly large fire poses greater risks because it can easily be blown by wind and spread to dry vegetation. Large fires also take a much longer time before they are burnt down into usable coals. For this reason, ensure that your fire remains small and manageable at all times. For wood, you will tell when your heat is ready, and that is when you notice a bed of red glowing coals. As usual, spread your fire to ensure it is evenly distributed while grilling.
OTHER COOKING METHODS THAT CAN BE USED INCLUDE
a. Cooking with a stick
b. Skewers and Kebabs
c. Pie Iron
e. Dutch oven
f. On a grate
Establishing distinct ‘cooking zones.’
After you notice that your coals are ready to be used for grilling, it is possible to create ‘cooking zones’. This can be done by changing the depth of the coals in specific areas under the grill. Remember that the closer your coal is to the grill, the more heat you will be getting. Varying the depth of coals can enable you create different temperature zones and can make it easier when you want to cook foods that need varying heat levels.
Remember I had mentioned that you should always measure your heat because no matter your recipe or ingredient, your meal could still be ruined if you do not use the required heat. I would recommend that you divide the grilling area into three sections. For low heat in the first section, ensure the coals are around 12 inches from the grill. For medium heat in the second section, pile the coals 8-10 inches from the grill.
Lastly, for the high heat in the first third section, ensure that you place the coals 4-6 inches from the grill. These sections will help you when you want to change the heating for a particular food. You will be able to regulate the heat and ensure that different foods go hand in hand with their corresponding temperatures.
You can do several things while you are out camping. Bring movies or board games and have fun with other people. For your cooking, you must first establish the cooking method that you are going to use and how it is related to the food you are going to cook. You have the freedom to do whatever you love because this is your time, and you have no restrictions.
When it comes to other activities, it is important to let your mind wander. Pretend as if the world has ended and you are the only survivors. Go crazy and have fun.