Cooking Root Vegetables & Steak Over An Open Fire (Insert Fire Emoji Here)

For Father’s Day, my awesome wife got me a gift I didn’t even know I wanted, a Breeo Outpost. This is essentially a portable grill that you can stake near any fire and get cooking! A few years back, I developed a (potentially unhealthy) obsession with the Cooking Channel show Man Fire Food which featured host Roger Mooking going all over the country to see how different people cooked over an open fire. The show would spotlight everything from town lobster boils and pig roasts to restaurants using huge smokers and the like. I loved the idea of trying something like that on a smaller scale. After building a firepit with paver stones, that became more of a possibility. After this Father’s Day, it became an inevitability.

I’d used the Breeo once before, but kept it super simple by grilling a steak with olive oil and salt directly on it. It worked great. Then, on Sunday, we were all out in the yard around 2:30 and I realized I had a pile of wood from the recent storm, a steak in the fridge and some turnips and beets from our latest Misfits Market box. An idea began to form and I got the fire going around 3, wanting to have plenty of embers by the time I went to cook.

I didn’t use any recipes for this meal and just went in instinct, but did develop a plan. When I roast beets and other root vegetables in the oven, I usually dice them, dust with salt, onion powder and garlic powder and mix with olive oil before putting them in at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour which gets them nice and fork-tender. That seemed like a good roadmap for the on-the-fire version so I brought my ingredients down to a table outside and got to work prepping. A little before five, I put my combination in a cast iron pan and laid that right on the fire grill which had been going for a few hours by then. It was so cool because you could hear the oil sizzling! Every 10-15 minutes I would give the veggies a stir with a wooden kitchen spoon in one hand and a silicone oven mitt gripping a silicone handle cover in the other.

While that cooked, I got my steak ready (I think it was a sirloin, I’ve got to get back in the habit of noting these things). Again this was just a matter of doing the olive oil/salt thing and letting it come up to room temperature. By the time the beets and turnips were done — they had a great char on them that I’ve never gotten in the oven — I set them aside on a metal table, placed another cast iron skillet with olive oil in it on the fire and let it heat up. When I got it how I like it, I used my grill tongs to add the steak and let fire and metal do their beautiful thing to beef for several minutes before even looking at it. Once the first side had that nice brown hue I like, I flipped it over and waited again, trying not to mess with it too much.

When both sides felt right, I pulled that whole pan off the grill, transferred the meat to a cutting board and tented it with tin foil. My root veggies had been sitting for a bit, so I tossed them back on the grill and heated through for just a few minutes. I then scooped the skillet’s contents into a bowl and mixed with a tablespoon or two of red wine vinegar (with the mother if you can get it) and a container of feta to give it that nice tang. With that mixing nicely as a cocktail party, I sliced the beef and dinner was served!

The kids weren’t huge fans of the char on the beets and turnips, a side they usually really like, much to my eternal surprise, but everyone enjoyed the steak, even if it was a bit more done than the medium I usually get elsewhere. Still, it was a lot of fun to have a very different way of cooking outside. I know I was using a piece of modern technology, but it still felt more primal or like I was actually building something (a feeling I often get while cooking something complicated). Even more than that, I like how it opened up my brain to thinking about other things I could cook on there both in our backyard and elsewhere. There are attachments so you can hang a soup pot or other delights over higher up! There are so many options and I love the idea of figuring out ways to make some of our favorite dishes over an open fire, especially with fall coming up!

Thoughts?

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