Cooking with wood and Charcoal.


Cooking with wood and Charcoal is a challenge that many have yet to master. In this age of gas grills, many people seem to think that cooking with wood or charcoal would be the same.  WRONG!  Cooking with wood or charcoal is a lost art in many areas of the US.  In fact, when I first moved to the state of Idaho and asked if there was a local business that sold BBQ Grills, I was met with confusion and asked what a BBQ Grill was (Sigh!).  Finely the person replied with “You mean like a Gas Grill, but uses that nasty Charcoal stuff instead of gas?”  At this point, I knew that I was in the land of the lost!

Needless to say, it took several months to locate one, and I even had to consider having one shipped in from Texas for a while.  If these Sheeple had no idea what a BBQ Grill was, they certainly didn’t know how to cook on one.   Having grown up in East Texas, I thought everyone knew how to BBQ with wood or charcoal.  Heck, I was BBQing when I was 10 years old.  I think it was a required course in school.  🙂

No self-respecting East Texan would be caught dead cooking on a gas grill.  That was unheard of.  My next surprise was when I was told in Idaho (by more than one person) that it was completely impossible to cook a Brisket and have it be tender unless you boil it first!  All I could do was to stand there and stare at them and wonder how they manage to tie their shoes in the mornings.  After all, this is not Rocket Science.

Now, just for the record, I can cook a fresh Brisket (not boiled) in 6 hours on a BBQ Grill (as I call it) in 6 hours that will fall off of your fork when it is done.   If I slow cook it for 12 hours, it will be just as tender and melt in your mouth as well.  It’s all in how you cook it.  While remembering this lately, I decided it might be nice to give out a few pointers on how to grill meat using wood or charcoal as this will most likely be the only way to cook in the long term when SHTF happens.

First off, let’s start with a few Basics.

  • NEVER use charcoal starter as it will inevitably give the meat a bad flavor. Use a Charcoal Chimney (a large round metal container with holes in the bottom of it and lifted off the ground a little to allow you to build a small fire under it to get the charcoal started. Most people put paper in the bottom to get it started. Here is a quick tutorial on how to use one.
  • NEVER cook directly over the heat unless you are trying to brown your meat or cooking Steaks! If you do, the meat will be raw in the middle and burnt on the outside.   Not good!
  • ALWAYS build your fire to one side of the pit, not in the middle of it. I usually build mine on the right hand side with the vent on the left hand side. This way the heat flows over the entire grill, while allowing the right side to be used for indirect heat cooking . (This is best)
  • ALWAYS use wood that is known for its cooking flavor (i.e. Hickory, Oak, Apple, Cherry, Mesquite, and Pecan, etc.) Never use (Pine, Willow, and any type of evergreen) as these will ruin your food!
  • ALWAYS cook the meat until the juices run clear, (unless it is a Steak in which case cook it to taste). You see, up until this point the meat is not thoroughly cooked.

A few simple steps:

If at all possible, marinade the meat first. I know that in a SHTF situation, this may be hard to do, but many things can be used as a marinade when needed. Things like Cold Drinks, fruit juice, mustard, and of course oil based Salad Dressing. Use your imagination just avoid things that might taste badly if burned like Milk products.  Once your meat is finished marinating, season it to taste.  Now, this is where many people go wrong, they throw the meat on a hot grill right over the main heat and leave it for 30 or 40 minutes.  It never turns out well for those that do.  Put the meat over the main heat for about 5 minutes (Depending on how hot your fire is) and keep checking it to be sure it doesn’t burn.  Once it is golden brown, flip the meat.  Just continuing watching it until both sides are a beautiful brown color.  Once that happens, you will want to move the meat to the side of the main heat source and close the lid so it can continue cooking using indirect heat.  As long as it is not over the main heat source, it will not burn unless you are cooking at 450 degrees or higher.  Most people usually cook at around 250 to 350 based on what they are cooking.  Just remember, that the lower the temperature, the more tender and juicy the meat will be.  Chicken usually takes about two and a half hours, or until the juices run clear.  Larger pieces of meat take longer.  When you are finished, you will have some beautiful meat that is tinder juicy, and not burnt.  Imagine if you will, spending all day hunting for something to cook only to burn it when you got back to camp.  That would be demoralizing and completely un-necessary.

Now, take advantage of the warm weather and get outside and practice cooking on a fire with wood or Charcoal.  The more you practice, the better you will get and the better shape you will be when SHTF happens.   In the end, you will be happy you invested the time to learn.   Cook something and surprise your friends and family while showing off your new skills at the same time.  If you have any questions, you can always contact me through our contact page above.  Another good idea is to start your charcoal using kindling and no matches, as this is another skill that you will definitely need.  The thing about all Survival Skills is that you have to practice using them.  You sure don’t want to wait until you need them and then realize that you just thought you knew how to do something.

Learn something new and pass it on because skills are meant to be shared.  Happy Prepping!

1 thought on “Cooking with wood and Charcoal.”

  1. I know this article centered pretty much on cooking with Charcoal, but for cooking with wood, follow the same guidelines. 🙂


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