Zucchini is a great vegetable to not only grill but ember cook. It has the density to hold up over the high heat. Add a distinct char taste to this abundant vegetable either as a side dish or an ingredient by making ember fired fresh zucchini.

Zucchini is a great vegetable to not only grill but ember cook. It has the density to hold up over the high heat. Add a distinct char taste to this abundant vegetable either as a side dish or an ingredient by making ember fired fresh zucchini.

EMBER FIRED ZUCCHINI

How to cook your zucchini on hot coals.

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I love thick-skinned vegetables that come in season during Summer.  They are the perfect items to light a fire and make some hot coals to ember fire flavor into them.

We’re getting ready to coal roast one of my favorite vegetables – zucchini!  This is so simple to do and produces an extraordinary flavor for zucchini to be eaten on its own or to be used in your favorite recipe.  Clean out the fire pit, charcoal grill or outdoor fireplace and prepare to roast “ember fired fresh zucchini” directly on the hot coals.

Building A Small Fire

Starting the fire to burn down the wood into coalsKnow this from the start – You do not need a large fire!  A small fire is best to accomplish your cooking in about an hour’s time.  For my fire, I am using ten SmokinLicious Single Filet Wood Chunks in Ash with a couple of pieces of chardwood that were left over from a previous cook.   Why Ash hardwood?  Because it is hands down, the best hardwood to produce an even bed of coals which is what you want when you coal roast.

I stack the wood so there is quite a bit of air space between the pieces.  This ensures I have good oxygen flow to produce combustion quickly. My technique is to stand the wood pieces on their end and make a circle. I try to have a couple of pieces in the center kind of tipped on to each other.  Remember, you want to produce hot embers quickly so it only requires a little wood and a lot of oxygen to burn things down.  I light my wood using a small butane torch. Leave the torch in place until I’m sure the wood has ignited.  I keep the lid off my charcoal grill so I can push the combustion process through completion and get those ash covered, hot embers.

Red Means Hot

Red Hot coals is the goal before adding the zucchiniYou will know when the coals or embers are ready for cooking when you have uniform coals and they are glowing red from the bottom and gray on top.  I keep a couple of larger coals banked to the side to maintain heat and for reserved hot coals. Just in case I need to rake more to the cooking side.  I like to nestle a high heat metal cooking rack on the hot coals and then place my whole zucchini on the rack.  This allows for little ash to accumulate on the skin.  Remember, those coals are very hot so the zucchini will take less than 20 minutes to tenderize and char.

 

Turn For Full Char

Zucchini on the grilling rack over the hot fire coalsWith the zucchini and coal rack in place, I give the embers about 8 minutes to char and cook the first side of the zucchini.  After that time, I gently turn the zucchini so that each side gets an even char.  Once the first 8 minutes are done, there will be less time needed for each of the other sides as the zucchini will hold heat.  I’ve added one additional wood piece to my banked fire just to be sure I have enough heat in the coal area.  I will not put the lid on the unit during the entire cooking process as this is open fire cooking.  My total coal cooking time is approximately 16 minutes.

 

Perfection In Smoke & Char on Ember Fired Fresh Zucchini

Dr. Smoke's clock for the cooking time requiredAfter placing my ember fired fresh zucchini on hot coals for about 16 minutes total, turning several times to get an even char, this spectacular vegetable is ready for eating.  You will see, there is very little coal bed left following this technique so remember, if you are cooking more than a couple of zucchini, you will need a larger coal bed.

For those of you thinking that the black, charred skin will be bitter and not appealing to eat, think again.  Most of the char will rub right off but the flavor will be infused throughout the ember fired fresh zucchini.  I’ve sliced mine about ¼-inch thick as I plan to make a galette of ricotta, garlic oil, and basil.

Check in soon for our post on that recipe.  Did you love this wood-fired technique?  Leave a comment and subscribe as we continue to bring you new ideas, tips, techniques and recipes for all things wood-fired, smoked, and charred!

You may also enjoy reading:

-Top 10 Vegetables to Cook in Hot Embers

-EMBER FIRED ZUCCHINI & RICOTTA GALETTE

-SUCCULENT WOOD FIRED STUFFED TOMATO WITH HERB RICE

-Ember cooked Sweet Peppers

Purchase products:

Wood Chunks- Single Filet

Charwood

 

Our coals showing their hot embers and ready for direct ember coal cooking!

Our coals showing their hot embers and ready for direct ember coal cooking!

THAT EMBER GLOW DIRECT EMBER COAL COOKING!

So what exactly is an ember and why is it suddenly gaining attention as a method of cooking?  Well, first, it’s most certainly not a new cooking concept.  Cooking over a fire and hot coals have been around for thousands of years.  Recently, some Chefs and well-known restaurants have taken to returning to this method of cooking because they know where great flavor can come from and they know how to manage the heat from hot coals.

An ember is a glowing, hot coal made of greatly heated wood, coal or other carbon-based material that remain after a fire.  The heat radiated from hot embers can be as hot as the fire which created them.  You can see this first hand, by placing new wood pieces on hot embers and watching a full fire develop.  An ember is usually formed when a fire has only partially burnt a piece of fuel and there is still usable chemical energy in that piece of fuel.  It continues to stay hot and does not lose its thermal energy quickly because combustion is still happening at a low level. The small yellow, orange, and red lights are often seen among the embers are actually combustions. There just is not enough combustion happening at one time to create a flame.   Once the embers are completely ‘burned through’, they are not carbon as is commonly believed (carbon burns, and is not normally left behind), but rather various other oxidized minerals like calcium and phosphorus. At that point, they are commonly called ashes.  But why cook on the embers versus over a live fire?  Because embers radiate a more constant form of heat, as opposed to an open fire which is constantly changing along with the heat it radiates (think water trapped within the wood and you’ll understand why there is heat fluctuation).

Ember cooking techniques include placing thickly skinned food items directly into the embers (i.e. garlic, onion, peppers, eggplant, steaks, etc.), placing a cast iron skillet into the embers that can hold any food items from vegetables, meats, poultry, fish – really anything.  The results produced from this method are super moist, super flavorful, and the aromas are exceptional.

Peppers being cooked over embers

Sweet Peppers over direct ember coals cooking

Dr. Smoke- You don't need a flashy grill, a simple fireplace with enough room, just like Asado, you can do your direct ember coal cooking

Dr. Smoke- You don’t need a flashy grill, a simple fireplace with enough room, just like Asado, you can do your direct ember coal cooking

Be sure to follow us on Instagram (Smokinhow-to-download-instagram-video_thumb800licious) and Twitter (@DrSmokeSmokin) as we highlight some of our ember cooking techniques, especially as we enter Farmers Market season!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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