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Grilling with a Chiminea

BBQs are a great way to get the family together and enjoy some delicious home-cooked food, but you donít have to invest in a purpose-built BBQ if you already have a chiminea for patio heating in your garden. Grilling with a chiminea is just like grilling with a charcoal BBQ, but do bear in mind that the grill in a chiminea is smaller than that on a charcoal BBQ, so youíll need to plan ahead.

A BBQ cannot be hurried, and the great thing about cooking with a chiminea is that the enclosed body helps get the subtly smoky flavour you want out of a BBQ. You should always keep a close eye on the BBQ and build the fire to suit the food youíre going to be cooking. For example, fish, chicken and vegetables all need a medium heat, while most meats Ė particularly large cuts Ė require a higher heat.


The Cozumel Clay BBQ Chiminea

Itís a good idea to organise your BBQ into courses if you can, so that you can cook lots of smaller items first (think pineapple rings, hot dogs, vegetable kebabs, large mushrooms) and then dedicate your attention to the kebabs, burgers, sausages, or steaks. Make sure you know the dietary preferences of the people youíre cooking for (for example, if youíll have a vegetarian joining you), and of course lay on plenty of dips, salads, rolls, cold pasta or potato salads, punches and beer.

Marinade the meat the night before in the case of kebabs, or, if youíre making a rub for steaks, prepare and rub the meat a few hours before the BBQ. A steak will need about an hourís rest out of the fridge before you put it on the grill. Any excess fat should be trimmed off to help reduce flare-ups and stop the meat curling on the grill.

Charcoal is by far the best fuel for BBQs, so a cast iron or steel chiminea is the best to use for outdoor cooking, especially as many come with integral grills. If you have a clay chiminea, you can still use it as a BBQ, but you will probably have to use heat logs (be sure to look for a brand which is 100% sawdust and safe for BBQs) and ensure you build the fire up slowly before stoking it up in preparation for cooking.

Never use lighter fluid or any other kind of accelerant in your chiminea. Light your charcoal or heat logs with newspaper or natural lighters to prevent your chiminea getting damaged. This will also keep your food tasting great!

A charcoal fire will take about 15 minutes to get up to temperature, but remember, youíll need to add another layer of charcoal to your fire if you want to cook foods that need a high temperature, such as chops, kebabs, burgers, sausages, or steaks. For steaks, itís a good idea to get your grill good and hot, then let the fire burn steadily as you cook as a steak kept on a permanent high heat will not cook evenly. Itís also important to let the steak rest for 5 minutes before serving to allow the meat to rest.

Above all, be safe. You should only use your chiminea far away from any possible sources of ignition, such as trees, awnings, fences, and always use a thermometer to ensure all meat is thoroughly cooked.

Lewis Davies loves barbecues and outdoor living and writes for

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Rachel Paxton
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