When chef John Delucie visited Argentina, he observed that all of the grilled meats had an extremely strong, smokey taste. An investigation revealed a simple explanation—everyone was cooking with wood fire grilling —and served as the idea for his new Manhattan eatery Bedford & Co. Delucie demonstrates how to achieve great wood-grilled taste in your own backyard in this video.

Select Your Wood For Wood Fire Grilling

Your selections may vary depending on where you live and the time of year. A fair rule of thumb is that heavier hardwoods (such as oak and hickory) are ideal for richer meats such as pig or beef, while lighter hardwoods (such as alder, maple, fruit and nut wood) are best for poultry and fish. Regardless, be certain that any wood you purchase has been air-dried.

Learn How To Mix

Delucie grills using a combination of wood and charcoal, and you should, too. You’ll get a smoky flavor from the wood and the firepower (and constant heat) from the charcoal. Delucie employs a 70/30 wood/charcoal combination at the restaurant, but he recommends a simple 50/50 at home.

Light Your Fire

Start the charcoal in a chimney, and when they’re ready, move them to one side of the grill. If you put wood on top, it will catch fire.

Wood Fire Grilling: Prepare The Oil

Rub the grate with oil before placing any food on it to prevent it from sticking. Take an old cloth, roll it up, and knot it with butcher twine. Soak it in any high-smoke-point cooking oil and slide it over the grill with tongs.

Work With Your Heat

If you pile your fuel to one side, you’ll have two cooking zones. Sear the meat directly over the blazing wood, then transfer it to the other side to continue cooking over indirect heat. One significant benefit of wood fire grilling is that you will never lose track of the hot areas.

Wood Fire Grilling: Make The Most Out Of Your Smoke

To get the most out of a live fire, use fatty or long-cooking cuts that will absorb smokey flavor. Marbled steaks and chops, as well as brisket and entire pig butt, are excellent meat choices. Consider oily fish, such as black bass, salmon, or branzino.

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