How to cook on an open fire

I have always loved open fire cooking as it brings a lovely smokey flavor to your food. An important part of cooking meat on an open fire is knowing when the fire is ready. A wood fire should be a mass of glowing coals that show no flame, it can take up to an hour or more to reach this stage depending on the size of the fire. The coals of a charcoal fire are ready when they look grey and ashy by day and they glow red at night.


A guide line on heat for a fire that I was taught is below.

  • Hot coals – have an ashy colour and you can only hold your hand 100 mm above the coals for 2 to 3 seconds
  • Medium Coals – are entirely covered with grey ash and you can only hold your hand 100 mm above the coals for 3 to 4 seconds
  • Low coals – are covered with a thick layer of grey ash and you can hold your hand 100 mm above the coals for 4 to 5 seconds

Place your grid at about 100mm above your coals. A rough guide to cooking time for your meat based on this is:

Beef (25mm ) Rare 10 – 12 minutes

Beef( 25mm ) Medium 16 – 18 minutes

Lamb/Pork (20mm ) Rare 10 – 12 minutes

Lamb /Pork (20mm) Medium 14 – 16 minutes

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