Barbecuing is a primal technique for cooking food: there is often nothing simpler. You don’t always need fancy gadgets – just food and fire. By cooking directly in the embers of a fire (such as the ribeye roast below), you take the simplest of foods and turn them into something special. You only need quality lumpwood charcoal or the embers of a hardwood or fruitwood fire. You can then simply place the food straight in the embers… That’s it.
Cooking in a cast-iron pan is another wonderful way to cook. You can get cast iron screaming hot, and it holds the heat for a long time. It’s a great way to make sauces, too.
Here, I share the simplest of barbecue techniques that use a minimal amount of kit, meaning anyone can achieve delicious results. Very few tools are required; I think a 22-inch kettle barbecue is just about the best place to start as a barbecue novice, as it will provide you with a good opportunity to learn your fire-control techniques.
However you choose to set up the charcoal in your barbecue (for example, two-zone cooking, where a third to half of the cooking area is directly over the coals) you should never cover the entire base with it. There should always be a safe zone with no charcoal underneath the grill. That way, when the fat starts to render out of the food and drip onto the charcoal, you have somewhere to move the food so it doesn’t flare up. This area is called the indirect cooking zone.
One essential piece of equipment I’d encourage you to buy is a digital-probe thermometer, used to measure the internal temperature of the food. There are lots of brands available, but most serious barbecuers have a Thermapen on their person at all times because they are reliable, accurate and fast.
A lot of barbecuing is trial and error, and mixing up wonderful, live fire-cooking techniques. Be bold, be confident and have fun.
Food and Fire: Create Bold Dishes with 65 Recipes to Cook Outdoors by Marcus Bawdon (Dog ’n’ Bone, £14.99) is out now
Putting food straight onto the embers of a burning fire is often called “dirty”. The food takes on the spirit of the wood or charcoal that is burning, so you need to use the best quality you can. Get the embers good and hot, either by burning down a hardwood fire to embers, or by getting some top-quality lump charcoal burning hot. Simply leave the food on the coals and allow a beautiful seared crust to form.