The Art of Hanging Food over Fire

The Art of Hanging Food over Fire

Hanging proteins and veg over fire is one of our favourite ways to cook over Live Fire or a Campfire. Whether it's whole chickens, rolled shoulder, legs, whole fish or whole veg, this style of cooking adds crazy amounts of flavour and is pretty stunning to look at too. 

Hanging is the original Low'n'Slow BBQ. We slow things down completely and let radiant heat of flame and embers do the job.

Radiant Heat

An important point to understand is that we are not going to hang the food 'over' the fire. We are instead going to use radiant heat from the ember bed and flames to cook. I.e. We are going to have the food hanging off to one side of the center of the fire. The below image outlines a normal temperature arch of a fire with a good ember base and flames. If you position your food between 250-350mm from the ground, you will get good even heat from the embers and flame. You may still need to flip the cut from end to end, but far less that if you were cooking directly over the fire. This also allows room for you to place a roasting pan under the meat to collect drippings to baste with. 

Radiant heat arch when hanging foods over fire

The Spin

Regardless of what you are hanging, creating a setup that lets your food spin is a will seriously aid in the evenness of your cook. The secret here is to use twine / or butchers string for at least the top portion of your connection. You can then gently spin the food to wind up the string. It then unwinds and continues past this point going back and forth. The longer the twine the better this effect. My record is 42 minutes without touching it with a leg roast hanging from 3m up a tree!


The connection between twine, wire and your food is as varied as the different foods you can choose. For connection between the food and the twine, you can either use a meat hook or a length of stainless wire (say 200mm). For proteins with bone in, the simplest and strongest method is to drill a hole directly into the bone. Without the bone you have the option of trussing with twine (not suitable for very hot cooks) or stainless wire. 


Depending on your set up, you can control temperature by managing your fire or moving you meat to and from the fire, or up and down. For most cooks, you will be aiming for a radiant temperature of around 180-190c or 6-7 seconds using the hand hold method (Learn about this here). Keep in mind that a lot of radiant energy is coming from the flames, so keeping a good high fire burning is really important. Use 7-10cm splits of hardwood to avoid fluctuations in your flames. 

Food Specific Tips

Bone in Ribeye (3-7 Rib) - The ultimate reverse sear!! Drill holes in the end of two outside ribs and wire around the ribeye at each end. Use two long hooks to bring both connection points to the center twine. Cook with the rib bones low for 70% of the time as this radiates heat through the cut. See here for temp and finishing ideas.  


Rolled Shoulder - This method works well for rolled pork or lamb shoulder. Your rolled shoulder will likely come trussed with twine or a butchers bag. We use stainless twine, and wire around the cut long ways and at least once around the center. This allows you to put a hook under the wire on each end. You should cook this slowly, over 3-4 hours, and don't panic that you aren't getting colour for the first hour, it takes time. Baste with pan juices or sprits with salty water to ensure it doesn't dry out. Any temp over 80c will be fine, but the closer you get to 96c the better. Note that above 96c you are entering pulled meat territory so pay extra attention to your connections. 

Hanging prime rib roast and rolled shoulder. 

Leg Roast - This method works well for venison, lamb or goat legs. Either drill into the shank bone or make a very strong noose out of stainless wire and place this below the knuckle (cut into the meat if needed so the wire has contact with the bone. Cook to 70c or until the juices run clear. Rest well before serving. 


Whole Fish - This is a really fun way to cook whole fish. You can even use a fish hook as the connection! The whole cook can be done with the head up. Place the hook through the bone section on the upper jaw or eye socket (not like in the pic below). Cook until internal temp is 60c. Baste with boiling butter for extra crispy skin. 

Whole fish cooked hanging over fire. 

Fruit and Veg - Your options are reasonably endless here. You can cook whole cauliflower if you drill a hole through the base. You can speed up the cook by blanching the head for 10 minutes prior and they take spices and rubs really well. Eggplant, courgette, heads of brussel sprouts and many other veggies can be hung very effectively. The easiest way to connect them is to put the stainless wire through the head in the hardest spot available. Peeled pineapples, apples, pears and many other fruits can be done in the same way (coat the pineapple with cinnamon sugar for an end of meal treat).    


Don't hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions or need any specific advice. Happy hanging!!  

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