Dirty Cooking

By Recipes extracted from The Artisan Kitchen by James Strawbridge

Dirty Cooking
Once you’ve tried cooking “dirty” directly on the hot embers of a campfire, you won’t look back. Dirty cooking can be fast and intense, but by zoning your fire pit into areas for direct or indirect cooking, you can also take it slow and gentle. You can roast whole vegetables or steaks straight on the glowing embers – just brush off the ash and peel blackened skins off vegetables before serving.

Serves 4


  • 4 beetroots
  • 2 red onions
    For the salad
  • 2 tbsp whole walnuts
  • 100g (3½oz) feta-style cheese, crumbled
  • 4 caper berries
  • 1 orange, zested and segmented
  • 1 tsp chopped dill
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • pinch of sea salt flakes
    For the dip
  • 2 tbsp yogurt
  • 1 tsp harissa


  • campfire (see pp.214–15)
  • heatproof gloves
  • long-handled tongs

Dirty Beets Salad

  1. The balance of sweetness and woody char in the beetroots works fantastically with orange and creamy feta, while the dirty onions are a revelation, packed with caramelized sweetness. Peel the cooked beetroot with a spoon and discard the skin before serving.
  2. Build and light your campfire. Once you have an even heat, put on heatproof gloves and roast the beetroots and onions in their skins directly on the bed of hot embers. Cook for 40–45 minutes, turning periodically with some long-handled tongs until blackened on all sides and tender in the middle.
  3. Allow to cool on a chopping board for 5–10 minutes, then carefully remove the onion skins and beetroot peel. Next, quarter the beets and slice the caramelized red onions into segments.
  4. Toss the dirty beets and onions in a rustic salad of walnuts, crumbled feta-style cheese, caper berries, and orange segments (fig. a). Garnish the salad with the orange zest and chopped dill, then drizzle with the olive oil and season with a pinch of sea salt flakes. Finally, to make the dip, whisk together the yogurt and harissa with a fork, then serve in a dipping bowl with the salad.

    fig. a

Also Try

Dirty leeks (fig. b) To make dirty leeks, simply place the leeks whole in the embers and cook for 20–30 minutes. Turn periodically with tongs and serve shredded with melted butter for a sweet and smoky side dish.

fig. b

Dirty scallops with seaweed and Prosecco (fig. c) This is one of my favourite dirty recipes. Add 50g (1¾oz) seaweed butter to 6 scallops in their shells and place directly onto hot embers. Cook for 2–3 minutes. Halfway through cooking, when piping hot, spritz with 75ml (2½fl oz) Prosecco or sparkling wine, then, using tongs, turn the scallops to sear them on both sides. Once cooked, garnish with chopped fl at-leaf parsley and lemon juice to serve.

fig. c

Expert Tips:

  • Try covering food with a layer of hot embers to bury it. This removes the need to turn the produce and is great for robust root veg.
  • Add whole sprigs of fresh herbs to the coals as an aromatic layer to cook meat, fish, and vegetables on. This will slightly dampen the fierce heat but also add more flavour.

Recipes extracted from The Artisan Kitchen by James Strawbridge, Published by DK Books, RRP $49.99 AUD/  $55 NZD

The Artisan Kitchen by James Strawbridge


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