Burgers sizzling on the grill are great for a barbecue with friends and family. But let's face it, a few patties aren't nearly as impressive as a whole pig roast or heaps of tender, melt-in-the-mouth brisket. You don't have to be a pitmaster to build and cook in your own barbecue pit. Nor is there any need for complex structures. Make a simple barbecue pit with just fireproof bricks or cinder blocks that stack and fit together neatly with no need for mortar. Simply slot in a grill and you'll be ready to go whole hog.
Do the Groundwork
Before you get to the fun bits (cooking and eating) there are a few essential bits of prep to ensure your pit is safe and sturdy. You'll need an outside area around 5 by 6 feet to have enough room to roast a whole pig. The rule is to leave about a foot of space in each direction around whatever you're cooking. Clear the space of any rocks, loose soil, twigs or weeds before smoothing with a shovel and raking. You're aiming for a smooth, flat surface free of anything that might catch fire. Use a spirit level to check, if needed.
Brick by Brick
You'll need around 40 to 50 cinder blocks in total. Create a rectangle four bricks long and three bricks wide but leaving the corners clear for a bigger pit. Turn the outermost bricks on the longer sides so the hollow parts face outwards for airflow. Repeat the layer of bricks lengthways, this time with all bricks facing hollow side up. Place two more bricks either side widthways, leaving a gap in the middle.
Start the Fire
If you're cooking straight away, now is the best time to build and light a fire. Once the coals are glowing, spread them so that they're piled higher on either side. Rest a grate slightly bigger than the pit across the bricks. It's important to choose non-galvanized metal, as galvanized metal can emit toxic fumes. Add one more layer of bricks on top, repeating the pattern of the ground layer but with all hollow sides facing upwards. Now is the time to add the whole pig or other meat, if you're ready.
Pack it Up
The beauty of this design is its flexibility. It'll stand happily in a garden or backyard as long as needed. The simple, non-permanent structure can also be easily dismantled and quickly reassembled next time hungry guests gather in your garden. That makes it ideal for big camping gatherings, festivals or al fresco weddings too – just pack it up, take it wherever you want and doubly impress friends with your barbecue-building prowess.