Four Types of Cooking Fires and What Foods to Cook on Them

[This article contains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]

THE FIRE THE FOOD THE BURN
TEPEE Build it with standing lengths of wood. Use when you need a steady, hot heat source for a reflector oven. The tall flames produce the high-level heat required for even cooking. Have plenty of small- and medium-size pieces of wood ready to add to the fire for temperature regulation.
PINWHEEL Lay out 1- to 2-inch-diameter sticks of firewood in a starburst pattern. It's perfect for throwing a fish fry. With a relatively small diameter, the blaze is close to the ground and has precise temperature control. Build it inside a ring of rocks or logs to hold the frying pan, and feed dry wood into the fire to keep the oil roiling, which is key for crispy fish.
LOG CABIN Stack 4- to 6-inch-diameter sticks in a crosshatch pattern. Build a log cabin when you want a deep bed of coals for roasting or grilling meat. Cook foil-wrapped game or use a Dutch oven. The log-cabin fire provides lots of air circulation and plenty of wood surface for an even blaze. It results in a quick supply of cooking coals.
KEYHOLE Construct a rock fire pit in the shape of a keyhole. In the round part, build a tepee fire; in the narrow end, a log-cabin fire. This is a great multipurpose fire. Build it when you're multitasking for a campfire feast. The tall flames of the tepee fire provide both heat and light and will give you a constant source of coals once the log-cabin fire burns down.