How to grill over a live fire

Go hands on with celeb chef Michael Chiarello, who shows us how to build a firepit fast and grill great food

Easy DIY firepit
Photo by Thomas J. Story

Easy DIY firepit

Build the pit. “You can cook anything on this,” says Chiarello. On bare ground, sand, or concrete (“not grass,” warns Chiarello, since it may scorch), spread a double layer of heavy-duty foil to extend a foot beyond a cooking grate (any size). Stack 3 layers of bricks in a rectangle, leaving a couple out of the top layer on opposite sides to encourage airflow. (For a standard 21-in. round Weber grate, build it 2 bricks by 3 bricks.) Fill pit with about an inch of sand.

Light the fire. Put tinder (tiny twigs) or several balled-up sheets of newspaper in the center, then lean kindling against them to make a tipi. Lean larger kindling against it, then 5-6 small logs. Light the fire. “The tipi lets every bit of flame go up past 3 or 4 logs,” says Chiarello, so the fire starts fast. Once the logs have caught, add several larger logs to the perimeter, and let it all burn down to ashy chunks with low flames (1 1/2 to 2 hours). Because there’s less smoke and char than cooking over flame, Chiarello says, “it make your food taste much cleaner.”

Start cooking. Keep another log burning at the back of the pit. When it’s ashy chunks, rake it into the main fire to maintain heat.

For a visual demonstration of   how to buildthis easy outdoor firepit, watch our   video.

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