During college, Michael Fuller guided canoe trips in Ontario's Algonquin Provincial Park. He found himself spending more time planning meals than poring over maps and realized that his real avocation was cooking red meat over hot coals in the woods. "It's all about the smoke, the primal feeling of being in the outdoors," he says. Fuller, now an architect, continues to hone his grilling technique on long paddling trips. These are his tips—with commentary from chef Andrew Carmellini, co-creator of The Dutch, a Manhattan chophouse, and co-author with his wife Gwen Hyman of American Flavor, a road food—inspired cookbook. Note: Sub charcoal for wood and this advice pertains to backyard grilling, too.
BEFORE YOU GO
THE GOODS / Go for a bone-in 2-inch-thick strip or rib-eye. The bone acts as a heat sink for even cooking.
THE PREP / Freeze the steak overnight, Fuller says. It will thaw as you hike or paddle in.
THE SEASONING / Never add seasoning at home. "Salt sucks out moisture, so wait until the last moment," Carmellini says.
THE TOOLS / Take tongs, not a fork; a small grate or uncoated wire refrigerator shelf; fireproof mitts.
AT THE CAMPSITE
1 SET UP THE PIT
Fuller's system calls for a long fire pit with three sections: a fire area for producing coals; a space to move those coals to, topped by a grill; a cooler section of the grill for slow cooking.
2 SEAR THE STEAK
Cook for a few minutes per side over high heat. Caramelized sugars mi with fat will provide that classic grilled-steak flavor.
3 COOK OVER LOW HEAT
Move the steak to the cooler side of the grill. In cold weather, cover with foil or a pot lid.
4 WAIT BEFORE EATING
Once it's medium-rare, let the steak rest for 10 minutes off the heat. Then toss it back on to warm up.