UK BBQ Mag Winter 2016/2017 - Page 41

“Dirty” cooking involves placing the meat directly onto the coal and it will help release your inner caveman. To start you need to build a bed of hot coals, either by burning untreated hardwood or good quality lumpwood charcoal. When the coals are burning well, give them a quick blow to remove the ash and then you are ready for the steak.

The initial fear most people have when wanting to try dirty cooking is that the food will be covered in ash and, providing a wet marinade isn’t used, this fear is unfounded. Occasionally the odd coal can stick to the meat when flipping it, but this is easily removed by flicking or picking it off with tongs.

Cooking dirty enhances the smoky flavour you’d normally associate with grilled meat. For the thicker cuts of meat, it’s worth flipping a few times and moving the meat around as occasionally the coals can be starved of oxygen and lose heat once meat is placed on top in a campfire scenario. This is less of a problem when the airflow is from the bottom; for instance, if you are using a fire basket and outdoor cooking equipment (like a ceramic or grill) to hold your coals.

Temperature control is achieved solely through fire management (read: poking the fire with a stick whilst staring into the flames and reminding yourself that this is nature’s television).

This style of cooking meat is simplistic and rewarding. You don’t need to lug around any equipment other than a set of tongs or asbestos hands to cook like this, so you can do it anywhere you can start a fire. So go on, give it a try!


For a fun and extreme version of this technique, try using a small leaf blower to turn the coals red hot like a blacksmith’s forge to achieve a “dirty afterburner” style cook.