Recipes for Cooking With Fire

Fan the flames of summer by taking the kitchen outside with these recipes for cooking with fire.

grilled salmon

Cooking with fire infuses food with bold smoky flavors for out-of-this-world taste.

Photo by Karen K. Will

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When you live on a farm, all four seasons bring their unique delights, but summer is the one that invites us to spend as much time outside as humanly possible. Hot, sunny days, coupled with warm, moonlit nights, and the sound of frogs singing, crickets chirping and coyotes howling, call us outdoors to enjoy the cacophony while it lasts. Enjoy it well with these recipes for cooking with fire.

Cooking With Fire Recipes:
Memphis Rub Recipe 
Grilled Salmon Recipe With Memphis Rub 
Best Beef Burger Recipe 

Grilled Lemon Potatoes Recipe 
Smoked Pork Recipe 
Mop Sauce Recipe 
Ranch Beans Recipe 
Dutch Oven Biscuits Recipe 
Campfire Peach Cobbler Recipe 
Citrus Coleslaw Recipe 
Fresh Corn Pudding Recipe

Think “outside the box” (as in “oven”) this season by preparing meals over a good old-fashioned flame – whether that’s a campfire, charcoal grill or smoker – to escape the confines of the kitchen and get in touch with your inner cowboy. Gather friends and family ’round and enjoy the seasonal amphi-theater in your backyard with some simple and delicious chow, eaten under the stars.


When it comes to grilling, most folks are either solid gas-grillers or charcoal-grillers. We in Grit-land are of the opinion that charcoal is the way to go for several reasons. First, you get to play with fire, and second, it imparts a delicious smoky flavor to the food. Only with charcoal do you have a dry, white-hot temperature that sears and caramelizes the meat quickly, producing a unique (and delicious), crusty exterior. Charcoal grills also have the benefit of being portable: Drag it and a bag of Kingsford anywhere you wish to go – the park, the beach, or the back 40.

Avoid the gasoline flavor and forgo the lighter fluid; use a charcoal chimney to light your coals. Just fill the top with charcoal, the bottom with crumpled newspaper, and put a match to it. After 15 minutes, dump the coals into the barbecue and let them burn until they’re coated with white ash. Spread out the coals to cover the bottom of the barbecue, and you’re ready to grill. If your coals are too hot and burning the food, spray them with a little water to cool them down, or just reduce the damper openings; if they’re not hot enough, gently fan the briquettes.


Several culinary traditions have a history of smoking meat, but most familiar to Americans is the barbecue style of the American South, where it has been refined to an art form. Here, smoking is serious business, with as many different recipes and methods as there are people. Many types of smokers are used, but we recommend those that cook the meat at a low temperature using charcoal, pellets or wood as fuel.

If you’re new to smoking meat, pork is an excellent medium to start with because the necessary cuts (shoulder meat, aka Boston butts and picnic roasts) are inexpensive and very forgiving. Smoking involves slow cooking at a low temperature, which coaxes the connective tissue and fat to gently melt away; combined with the smoke from the fire, you’ll end up with a tender, smoky, rich finished product.


Campfire cooking is rooted in the American West and the chuck wagons that used to feed cowboys while they moved cattle from the ranch to distant markets. Sparse, simple menus of chili, beans and biscuits graced the tin plates of the cowhands who were all-too-happy to have a hot meal on the open plains where sandwiches in saddlebags could never satisfy.

But before cowboys, colonists cooked on hearth fires using cast-iron kettles and skillets brought with them from Europe, where the art of casting iron dates back to the seventh century.

Cooking over a campfire, when done right, can be an all-day affair … and why shouldn’t it be? Build a roaring fire, keep it fed with cured hardwoods all day, and let the good times roll as you use that fire to prepare a variety of dishes from beans to biscuits to fruit cobbler. Set up a camp table near the fire and let your family and friends help with the preparations. You’ll be amazed at the fireside revelations as you dine under the stars and gaze into the flames, and no doubt everyone will ask when the next campfire will be as they leave for home. 

Easy, Sumptuous Sides

For the best picnic yet, pack one of these easy-to-make sides in your basket to go with your over-the-fire meal.