Grilling with wood fire

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
Topic Author
metacritic
Posts: 321
Joined: Fri Oct 05, 2007 12:58 pm

Grilling with wood fire

Post by metacritic » Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:38 pm

The post on buying a smoker leads me to post here -- not least as I haven't found forums on grilling with wood fire. Instead, you see the occasional NY Times story about the rising popularity of cooking with wood fire (mostly in restaurants, from what I can tell) or stories about GrillWorks USA.

I'm buying an Argentinian-style grill that can be raised and lowered with a crank. I purchased this from someone who is making it in Argentina on my behalf. It's en route and I'm growing anxious, realizing I know nothing about where to obtain wood, what form (rather than what kind) it ought to take, how to light and distribute it, and how to cook on it. Does anyone here grill with wood fire and can they advise on forums I might visit for technique?

bloom2708
Posts: 6377
Joined: Wed Apr 02, 2014 2:08 pm
Location: Fargo, ND

Re: Grilling with wood fire

Post by bloom2708 » Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:46 pm

I do, but I use lump charcoal. Wood burned with very low oxygen. You fast forward to lump charcoal. Short circuit the process so it doesn't take hours. (I buy the charcoal in a bag. I do not have time/energy to try to make my own charcoal. :wink: )

With real wood, you have to start the fire and wait through the process of burning down to more of coals.

A Weber Kettle grill with a mix of lump charcoal and some Kingsford "Professional" flavor charcoal. Yum. Amazing flavor.

A simple chimney starter gets the lump charcoal burning fast. Probably not what you are asking.
Last edited by bloom2708 on Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"We are not here to agree with you; we are here to provoke thoughtfulness." Unknown Boglehead

themesrob
Posts: 246
Joined: Fri Jul 15, 2016 1:58 pm

Re: Grilling with wood fire

Post by themesrob » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:05 pm

that sounds pretty cool. more power to you, that would be far beyond what my wife would allow me to do in our backyard.

I've only participated (mostly watched) in an asado-type cook once. my recollection is that there was a layer of lump charcoal at the bottom under (a huge stack of) very dry wood, and then it was a long wait until there were coals, which then got spread under the grill. There was a good bit of moving the grill up and down, to adjust both the temp and the coals.

if you've grilled before, you probably know places to get dry wood in your area. Amazon even sells kiln dried wood by the 40 lb box (free shipping with Prime). you're gonna need a lot.

User avatar
lthenderson
Posts: 4102
Joined: Tue Feb 21, 2012 12:43 pm
Location: Iowa

Re: Grilling with wood fire

Post by lthenderson » Tue Jul 09, 2019 3:29 pm

I've cooked thousands of times over a wood fire through either camping trips or an outdoor fire pit. At least for me, the form of the wood isn't really important because I want the coals. Once I have the coals, I move them with a shovel over to the cooking area part that is a set distance from the coals. I regulate the temperature by adding more coals or taking some away versus adjusting the height of the grate. I never cook right over the flaming wood unless it is a hotdog or marshmallow on a stick kind of cooking.

Mike Scott
Posts: 1331
Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:45 pm

Re: Grilling with wood fire

Post by Mike Scott » Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:07 pm

Grilling over a live fire is fun but you have to pay attention and adjust the cooking surface as needed. I will use whatever dry wood I have or sometimes use charcoal for a small quick fire. My firepit has a fixed height grill but it is a 4'x4' surface so I can adjust temperature by using different parts of the grill. It gives the versatility of cooking in cast iron, aluminum foil or grilling; all at the same time if wanted.

Mike Scott
Posts: 1331
Joined: Fri Jul 19, 2013 2:45 pm

Re: Grilling with wood fire

Post by Mike Scott » Tue Jul 09, 2019 6:11 pm

I don't know where you are but you can start with charcoal while you look for a source of wood. Many campgrounds and convenience stores near camp grounds have wood for sale if you do not have a local firewood market to purchase from. Although transport of firewood has become an increasing concern for transporting invasive beetle species. Odds and ends of (untreated) lumber scraps may be available to you.

User avatar
TxAg
Posts: 1447
Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2009 11:09 am

Re: Grilling with wood fire

Post by TxAg » Tue Jul 09, 2019 7:16 pm

In TX we use a lot of post oak, pecan, or mesquite.

Surdelsur
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Jan 13, 2019 6:28 pm

Re: Grilling with wood fire

Post by Surdelsur » Tue Jul 09, 2019 7:42 pm

metacritic wrote:
Tue Jul 09, 2019 2:38 pm
The post on buying a smoker leads me to post here -- not least as I haven't found forums on grilling with wood fire. Instead, you see the occasional NY Times story about the rising popularity of cooking with wood fire (mostly in restaurants, from what I can tell) or stories about GrillWorks USA.

I'm buying an Argentinian-style grill that can be raised and lowered with a crank. I purchased this from someone who is making it in Argentina on my behalf. It's en route and I'm growing anxious, realizing I know nothing about where to obtain wood, what form (rather than what kind) it ought to take, how to light and distribute it, and how to cook on it. Does anyone here grill with wood fire and can they advise on forums I might visit for technique?
To be honest, most of the time we use charcoal in Argentina, although woodfire tends to be the choice for those who like to stick to the tradition. Woodfire has the additional challenge that you need much more material to keep the fire going and that it is more difficult to regulate and maintain temperatures. About which wood to use, always prefer "hard" wood and avoid any resinous wood such as pine or eucaliptus. Down here we like espinicho or quebracho, although you can probably make do with woods like apple tree or cherry tree. Mesquite I love and usually use it for my Weber smoker but think it would be too strong and overpowering for an Argentine style asado, you can add a bit though and see if you like it. Regarding on how to cook the asado itself, you can check out any of Francis Mallmann´s books, I have Seven Fires and really like it.

Happy grilling!!

bhsince87
Posts: 2382
Joined: Thu Oct 03, 2013 1:08 pm

Re: Grilling with wood fire

Post by bhsince87 » Tue Jul 09, 2019 8:21 pm

Where do you live? Generally, the most dense wood you can find is the best. Around here that's oak and hickory.

Personally I prefer to have it split into pieces about 2-3 inches thick. That will build coals very quickly.

If you're interested in that style, I highly recommend this book.
https://www.amazon.com/Seven-Fires-Gril ... 1579653545
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace." Samuel Adams

FIREmeup
Posts: 44
Joined: Thu Jun 15, 2017 4:00 pm

Re: Grilling with wood fire

Post by FIREmeup » Tue Jul 09, 2019 10:43 pm

I use lump charcoal for my smoker. Not what you are asking but seeing others mentioned it I wanted to offer my advice for starting the fire.

If using a chimney starter nothing works better than instafire.

https://www.amazon.com/Instafire-Charco ... th=1&psc=1

I used to keep old investment relation books to fill the bottom of the chimney and would still have them flame out before the charcoal started. Now for about $1 per fire I set one of these under the chimney starter and come back 10 minutes later to lit charcoal. It's natural, even the pouch is made of paraffin.

Luke Duke
Posts: 863
Joined: Tue Jun 18, 2013 11:44 am
Location: Texas

Re: Grilling with wood fire

Post by Luke Duke » Wed Jul 10, 2019 8:38 am

I would use lump charcoal. Using logs would require you to start your fire a couple of hours in advance in order to get a good bed of coals. If you decide to use logs, use small splits to speed the process up.

Nowizard
Posts: 2065
Joined: Tue Oct 23, 2007 5:33 pm

Re: Grilling with wood fire

Post by Nowizard » Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:40 pm

Charcoal is, of course, wood. As mentioned, it is the coals that count, though it has a greater cachet to say you used wood. If doing so, you definitely want to use hardwood such as oak or pecan and never use a wood with significant sap such as pine.

Tim

psy1
Posts: 58
Joined: Thu Jan 31, 2019 1:40 am

Re: Grilling with wood fire

Post by psy1 » Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:08 am

Use charcoal as the base and starter to get things going. Then add split logs or even smaller chunks to add particular flavors/smoke. You can buy local hardwood from anyone who sells firewood. Often they separate by species. Depending on where you live, there might be lots of other options as well.

Post Reply