At KUDU Grills, we believe there is an art to using your wood-burning grill. And as outdoor cooking enthusiasts, we know that not all fires are created equal. Throwing your meat over a wood-burning fire is one of the oldest grilling techniques, and therefore, often still requires a bit more elbow grease.
If you’re wondering why your grilled meals are often burnt, or slightly undercooked, we have the answer and better yet, the remedy to avoid this going forward. Keep reading to find out how to light the perfect fire for your wood-burning grill.
What is a Wood-Burning Grill?
In simple terms, a wood-burning grill is a utensil with grates that allows you to place your food directly on top of a pit of wood. And luckily, thanks to technological advances, this grilling technique is now more sophisticated than cooking your food over a hole in the ground.
Let’s backtrack for a moment to ‘simpler’ times. Back in the day, the only resources man had on hand to cook his meals were tree branches and the rather recent discovery of fire. Although cooking your food over an open fire might be an ancient method, it’s still, in our humble opinion, the best way to do so.
However, we don’t have to suffer as much as they did to put food on the table. Modern wood-burning grills now allow us to cook in the ‘wild’ with the convenience of man-made tools. They are the reason we can grill out with our friends and family, sip a few cold ones and still end up with food cooked to perfection.
Let’s Talk Wood: Selecting the Best for Grilling
It goes without saying that, without wood, there is no fire. But what some may not know is that it’s not as simple as grabbing the nearest log. There are, in fact, a few dos and don’ts that come with choosing your firewood. Let us break it down for you:
1. Use wood that has been aged naturally outdoors for six months to a year. This drying-out process, called ‘curing’ or ‘seasoning’ is often why tree branches or twigs make for the best firewood. A freshly cut piece of wood, known as green wood, contains too much internal moisture, which produces more smoke and slows down the combustion process.
2. Always prioritize your wood supply over anything else as it will be your primary fuel source. What we mean by this is that you will always be better off having more wood than coal or briquettes.
3. Have a diverse range of wood in terms of size, density, and texture. Your drier, lighter pieces will burn much faster, although the heavier ones will give you the smokey flavor you’re after. Have both on hand when using your wood-burning grill.
1. Don’t use wood that has been exposed to paint, stains, or other chemicals. The scrap wood from your backyard is never a good idea.
2. Don’t cut down healthy trees in the name of a cook-out. The beauty of the outdoors is what makes grilling so exciting, so why would you want to harm it?
3. Don’t use wood that contains mold or fungus.
Eternal Flame(s): How to Light the Perfect Fire
Step 1: Setting up
When building your fire, you want to combine thin, dry pieces with dense logs. This way, you have the best of both (wood that will catch fire quickly and logs that will burn slower and generate heat over time).
Start by placing two dense logs on either side of your wood-burning grill. Then add three or more pieces of your thinner wood across the two logs. Repeat this process until you have three layers of what will look like a basket-weave pattern.
Step 2: Igniting
To get your flames started, moisten a sheet of butcher paper (or newspaper) with some cooking oil. Then, slide it right underneath your wood structure and light it up.
Step 3: Keeping the Flames Going
As your fire grows, the middle layer of thinner, drier wood should catch fire first. They will eventually collapse into coals with the uppermost log falling on top.
Whatever tinder you choose to use to start your fire, ensure that you add enough to keep the fire burning. You’ll have to keep your flames alive while you wait for the heftier logs to catch.
Cooking food over an open fire was the first cooking method ever known to man. In our opinion, it’s still the best way to cook to this day. And knowing how to light the perfect fire on your wood-burning grill can make all the difference in the flavor and experience of your cook-out meals.
Contact us if you have any questions about the KUDU and we’ll be happy to help meet your grilling needs. Here’s to many happy memories made around the open fire!