How to barbecue on a fire

Barbecuing can be done over an open wood fire, over charcoal briquettes on a brazier or hibachi, or on a gas-fired or electric grill. Don’t burn charcoal in the house because of the danger of carbon monoxide fumes.

To start a wood or charcoal fire, place wadded paper and kindling beneath the fuel and light the paper. Or use an electric igniter for charcoal. Avoid charcoal lighter fluid; it may flavor the food. Never use gasoline or any other highly combustible liquid.

A wood fire is ready for cooking when it has become a mass of glowing embers. Briquettes should burn until they are grayish-white with no black points showing.

The trick to cooking the food to the desired degree of doneness without charring it is controlling the heat. You can do this two ways: by moving the grill higher or lower or by dispersing the coals with a poker or tongs so that the heat is less intense. Start the food 4 to 6 inches from the heat. The thicker the cut of meat, the farther from the fire it should be. Have a squirt bottle of water ready to extinguish flames caused by melted fat.