One of the most primal preparations for food is open fire or ‘pit’ cooking. The complex flavors of smoke will permeate and season just about anything you cook over a wood fire. This last weekend I thought I would celebrate the summer and my backyard by having some friends and family over for a fire pit grilling party. The event was a huge success, with everyone getting their fill of delicious fire roasted meats and vegetables. Although we had a wonderful time and everyone was very happy, there was a tremendous amount of planning and calculation that went into our fire pit party. This week I want to share some of the tricks and details that really make cooking over a wood fire enjoyable and safe. Cheers!
Pit placement & safety equipment
Regardless of the size of your pit you will want to make sure you don’t start any wildfires. Place your pit a good distance from any wood structures, trees, brush or any flammable materials. Make sure you clear the ground at least four feet around the perimeter of your pit and keep a shovel, bucket, plenty of water and fire extinguisher close. It’s also advisable to check the local laws and regulations for burning in your area, some places have seasonal designations for open fires.
If you are out in nature and there are an abundance of large rock from which you can build your pit that is great. I, however, found that you can get a perfectly round four foot diameter pit built easily using retaining wall bricks.
When it comes to a grill I have decided to use nine gauge non-galvanized expanded steel grating. This material is very common and can be purchased easily, although you might want to request they cut it to your specifications which may take a few days extra. It is very important that you get non-galvanized steel. Galvanized steel is processed with lots of chemicals and can make you sick. In addition I also used two pieces of non-galvanized angle steel (optional) to separate my 2’x4′ sections of grill for quick and easy access to the fire.