For many people, nothing gets their mouth watering faster than the smell of something cooking over a fire. Some even feel that it's the primary reason to even go camping. Of course, with an open flame comes added risk and responsibility. How do you fire-cook your food with less hassle, creating a perfectly grilled savory meal nearly every time? It may be easier than you think. Plan Ahead
Especially if you're going to a remote campground, it's a good idea to plan your meals ahead of arrival. This ensures you have what you need to make what you want without any last-minute trips back into civilization or compromising on ingredients.
Choose the best cuts of meat and/or freshest vegetables. Bring any seasonings, sauces, rubs, or marinades you want to use, as well as your favorite fire-starter, charcoal, or wood chips. Make sure you have adequate propane if you prefer to cook on a gas grill.
Assemble and Organize Your Tools
It's best if you have a set of culinary tools designated just for outdoor use. These are often hardier than your typical kitchen set, and should include a decent set of chef knives, tongs, and a spatula to name a few.
Then organize them in a chuck box—named after the chuck wagon of yore—which is basically a toolbox for your campsite cooking utensils. This keeps them easy to transport and maintain. You can even keep your favorite grilling seasonings in there so, your tools are already assembled, and you won't discover that you're missing something that you forgot to pack. Plan to Prep
Do your prep work ahead of time. Depending on what you're making, this could include chopping vegetables, assembling meat and veggie packs for “silver dollars” over the campfire, or marinating meat overnight. This ensures you don't have to leave the grill unattended once you've begun while creating a more complex meal.
Master the Grill
There are a few things to be aware of when grilling. You want to know your preferred grill method and become a master of it. If you're unsure, experiment with each so you know at which you want to excel. Pick Your Grill: When grilling outdoors, you have three choices: campfire, charcoal, or gas. Truly, the method you choose boils down to personal preference. Some people enjoy the smokier taste that comes from charcoal or campfire, where others feel that gas burns cleaner, allowing the natural flavor of the meat to come through. Gas is easier to light; the other options are less expensive. Whichever method you pick, you should start with a clean grill or grate. Then preheat and oil it to avoid your food sticking to it.
Create Heat Zones: If you're cooking over a campfire, use a grate and center the fire under it. This allows there to be cooler zones on the perimeter.
With a charcoal grill, stack the coals in the center. Begin cooking where the fire is hottest and then move the food to the outer edges to grill perfectly without burning.
With a gas grill, keep one burner on high, and another on medium. This allows you to start hot and then finish on warm.
Use Grill Grates: If you're cooking over a campfire, a free-standing grate provides a flat surface similar to what you'd find on a charcoal grill. They also give you greater versatility and even heating when you're using a charcoal or gas grill.
Experiment with Wood Chips: Regardless of what method you're using, wood chips infuse a rich, smoky flavor into your meat or veggies. Although there is a huge variety to choose from, our favorites are hickory and mesquite. Just add them to your flames.
Invest in a Meat Thermometer: Make sure your food is properly heated to avoid any illnesses from undercooked meat by using a meat thermometer. This also helps you perfect the skill of cooking to specified "doneness," because you can't uncook an overdone steak.
Let It Rest: One of the biggest mistakes people make when preparing meat is to serve it immediately, "while it's hot". To let the juices evenly redistribute, let the meat "rest" on a clean plate or platter for about 10-minutes before serving.
Plan ahead; keep it simple, experiment, and don't take it too seriously. When you're done cooking, perhaps use the time that the meat is resting to clean the grill. Use a long-handled grill brush to scrape and remove debris and charred pieces. It cleans much faster when the grill or grate is hot. Being able to tidy up quickly allows you to spend more time enjoying your meal and having fun. Enjoy!