You could make a meal of it… forgive the pun. Or you could keep your chiminea cooking style simple and do a truly marvellous job of creating tasty food in no time. Here’s how to impress your family and thrill your friends with your awesome chiminea cooking skills.
22 hot chiminea cooking tips – Yum!
The first thing to say is this: whether you have a cast iron, steel or clay chiminea, our cooking guidelines remain the same. Here goes.
- You might not want to fill your house with lovely cooking smells, so take the wind direction into account when deciding which way your chim should face
- Nominate cooks. One cook per chim if you’re firing up multiple chimineas to feed the five thousand. Otherwise culinary chaos can ensue
- Start the fire half an hour before you want to cook
- Use dry wood. If it’s damp you get far too much smoke and it isn’t even fragrant smoke, it can be acrid and nasty. And makesure you have a good supply of fuel – there’s nothing worse than going off half-cooked 😉
- You can add gorgeous extra flavours to your food using different types of wood chips. You can buy hickory, juniper wood, apple wood chips and more online, all of which enhance the flavour of meat, fish and veg. All you do is mix the chips with water and scatter them on the embers
- You can also use dried herbs to flavour your smoke – just scatter dampened dry herbs – better still fresh ones – onto the embers and enjoy that lovely, rich, herby fragrance
- Clean your grills and pans before you start to get rid of any dirt and grease from last time – hot oil and grease can catch fire, so better safe than sorry
- Chimineas can cook hot and fast, so lightly oil the inside of your cooking pots to stop the food sticking
- Make like a BBQ expert, using proper fire gloves and tongs with suitably long handles
- Once the fuel is glowing orange underneath with fine white ash on top – just the same as a regular BBQ – you’re ready to start cooking inside your chim
- If you’re cooking on the top you need to see some flames, so build your fire a bit higher and bigger
- When cooking meat or fish, make sure the pieces are roughly the same size and thickness so they all cook properly and are ready at the same time – and turn then over frequently to avoid burning
- When you make small cuts in the surface of the meat it helps release the fat, which delivers extra wonderful flavour
- How do you know when meat is cooked? The usual way – poke a skewer into the middle and if the juice that comes out is clear, you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll. If it’s pink, unless you enjoy rare meat you still have some cooking to do
- Don’t forget the rules about meat and other foods – for your health’s sake keep raw meat and fish separate from salads and other uncooked foods
- If you use good crockery, you’ll probably find it discolours as soon as you put it near the fire, simply because real fires smoke. Use old china instead
- Steer clear of plastic and wooden cutlery and cooking tools – there’s nothing quite so horrid as the toxic smell of molten plastic, and burnt wood handles are no fun either
- Don’t wander off and leave the food unattended or you’ll risk returning to a chiminea full of yummy (not) charcoal
- It’s tempting to warm up things like pitta bread on the walls of a chim, but the paint finishes on some clay chims aren’t supposed to be eaten. Neither are cast iron chiminea protection and cleaning products
- If you’re cooking on top of a clay chiminea neck, fats can drip down the sides. You can either leave them to develop over timeinto a lovely patina, not unlike candle wax dripping down a wine bottle candle holder, or clean it off using kitchen roll, warm water and washing up liquid
- Have you ever tried cooked fruits? Fruit kebabs are totally delicious as well as ridiculously easy to make. All you need is chunks of fresh fruit, berries and metal skewers. Fruit cooks really fast, so keep your eye on it. Dollop some fresh cream, honey or ice cream on top and you’re in heaven. Or sprinkle hot cooked fruit kebabs with brown sugar for a crunchy treat
If you’re cooking for a load of people, there’s no reason why you can’t have two or more chims burning at the same time. It’s also a great way to warm a big outdoor space. If you’ve used your chim to cook recently, we’d love to see pics. Please email them over and we’ll feature them in our blog.