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.