Fire Pit or Grill Skillet, Pot and Tin Can Cooking
What is a grill skillet? Most people don't realize you can cook on a fire pit or grill with a skillet, a pot, a Dutch oven or even a tin can! You'd think that only things that can sit on a grill grate can be cooked outdoors, but in fact you can do much more, even without a side burner. While you are grilling up those steaks and other meats, you can cook things in a skillet or pot right along side them. Many people worry that these things require going into the kitchen to cook on the stove. And who wants to run back and forth between the back yard and the kitchen while cooking? But if you use a grill skillet, you can cook just about anything you can cook in your kitchen outdoors at your fire pit or grill.
You can even use these same techniques right on your campfire the next time you go camping!
This page will give you info about using a skillet, pot or can on your fire pit or grill, including the pros and cons and some tips to make it work well.
What is a Grill Skillet, Pot, Dutch Oven or Tin Can?
Basically, you can throw just about any cooking vessel on top of your grill or fire pit. You basically put the pot over high direct heat and then you can stir fry, saute, braise or stew anything that you would normally use your stovetop for. I personally like to use strong, heat-tolerant pots like cast iron or earthenware, but basically anything that can withstand the high direct heat of a hot burner on your stove can be used. For frying, sauteing or stir frying, a shallow utensil like a skillet is ideal, while for stewing and braising, a deeper pot like a Dutch oven or even a Tagine can work well. One unique idea I've used is to throw a slab of rock or marble onto the grill and use that flat surface as a place to sear smaller foods like scallops or vegetables. You don't have to worry about them falling through the grate this way! If you prefer, you can use an empty heavy duty coffee can in the same way. If you use aluminum or stainless steel cookware be warned that the bottoms of your pots will likely get stained black!
What is the Advantage of Using a Grill Skillet or Pot?
A grill skillet or pot allows you to cook things you normally wouldn't cook on a grill or fire pit. This allows you to prepare your whole meal outdoors rather than cooking some things outside and some on the stove. For example, some foods, like chopped vegetables, would be too small and/or delicate to throw directly on a grilling grate. With a skillet or pot, you can stir fry or sauté those foods right on your grill. You can also use cooking techniques that don't work directly on a grill like boiling, braising or even stewing.
What Types of Foods Can You Cook with a Skillet, Pot or Tin Can?
Any foods you would cook on your oven in a pot or skillet can be cooked on your grill or fire pit. Some examples include stir fried veggies, braised or stewed meats, skillet seared or fried scallops, paella, risotto, rice or soups. Delicate foods that would fall apart on the grill, like light fleshed fish, work well in a grill skillet or braised in a Dutch oven.
Tips for Using a Grill Skillet, Pot or Dutch Oven on Your Fire Pit or Grill
- First of all, whatever type of pot or skillet you use, it is best to place it somewhere on your grill where it is over high, direct heat. On a fire pit, it is ok if it is over open flames even directly on the wood. On a grill, pile up enough charcoal beneath it to get the heat up to searing temperature.
- Use can use a lid to stew or boil dishes just like you would on your stovetop or in your oven.
- Braising: If you want to braise foods, simply fill your pot or skillet with liquid, like a nice stock, and add your ingredients. You can braise fish, vegetables or meats. Above you can see pictures of a nice rabbit braise we did recently in a Dutch oven-type pot with a lid and sausage meat balls braising in chicken stock after first being seared in a grill skillet.
- Searing: You can use a skillet or slate or marble slab to sear delicate or smaller foods like scallops, as you can see here, or veggies.
- Stewing or Boiling: Use a Dutch oven or Tagine directly on your grill or fire pit to sear and then braise or stew ingredients. You can bring liquid up to a boil and then cook covered or uncovered depending on your recipe.
- Think outside the box!: Try to get creative and try things you might not have thought to do outdoors. For example, here we are frying up some sausages that were part of constructing a Quails' Eggs Benedict completely on the fire pit! We seared the sausages, then toasted the english muffins, fried the quails' eggs and even made the Hollandaise sauce, all in the grill skillet heated by a fire pit fire!
- Use a Tin Can: If you don't have a suitable skillet or pot to throw on your grill or fire pit, you can always use a tin can. Find a big, heavy duty empty coffee can and clean it out well. You can throw it right over your fire in your fire pit, campfire or grill and boil or stew foods right in it!
One of the best places I know to buy supplies for cooking with fire is SpitJack.com. Besides being one of the best options for fireplace cooking supplies (fireplace grills, rotisseries, cranes, long-handled roasters, etc.), they have a uniquely chosen stock of other great accessories. Their own fire pit rotisseries for pig and lamb roasting are top notch and sturdy. They also have fire pits, firewood storage and splitting supplies and more! Check them out!
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