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August 1, 2010
Grilling a steak over a wood fire

wood and charcoal burning in a grill

What!? Grilling a steak over a wood fire? You might say that all charcoal grilling is over a wood fire. Well, this is a little different. I found a pretty cool website called which sells a variety of woods for smoking and also for grilling. The technique for doing this is to light the wood along with some coals and let it burn down to embers and grill a steak over it. This is more like grilling a steak over a campfire. Take a look: has a variety of woods to choose from. I was intrigued by the idea of grilling a steak over pistachio wood so I got a hold of some pistachio wood chunks.

pistachio wood chunks for sale

The game plan here was as follows: Light the wood and the coals in my charcoal chimney and let it really flame up.

lighting wood in a charcoal chimney

Then dump the chimney in the center of the grill and allow the coals to ash over and the wood to be fully engulfed in flames.

wood and charcoal burning in a grill

Next I got out a water spray bottle and sprayed down the wood chunks to put the flames out. Once I sprayed the water on the wood the flame went out and the embers were ready to cook over.

pistachio wood for grilling a steak

I was in the grocery store and I couldn't believe the sale I found. Two huge T-bone steaks for only 7 dollars each! Now these are obviously USDA choice steaks from a grocery store so I knew I wasn't getting top quality, but the steaks sure did look good for this price! The steaks were about 1 inch thick so my game plan was to grill them over direct heat for about 4 min per side. This will result in roughly medium steaks.

grilling t-bone steaks over pistachio wood

When grilling with wood chunks it is imperative to keep all vents of the grill wide open. This allows good air flow which will let the wood burn as clean as possible. Never close the top and bottom vents or you will have really disgusting overly smoked food.

grilling t-bone steaks over pistachio wood

Overall this was a fun exercise. Normally I use wood for smoking meats low and slow on my charcoal grill or on my Weber Smokey Mountain barbecue smoker. However, if you like smokey flavored foods, I suggest giving this method a try. I imagine you can increase the amount of wood and use less charcoal for a more smokey flavor, or back off the wood and use more charcoal for just a hint of smoke. Pretty cool!

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By John Thomas
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