Writer Katy McLaughlin started simple when she began cooking in her fireplace, roasting meat in a cast iron skillet placed directly over the embers of a fire made with supermarket firewood. After speaking with some live fire cooking experts, she refined her technique a bit. Here are the tips we gleaned from the article:
• Use fruit wood. Although the cooking happens over hot embers after the fire has died down, fruit woods will impart a subtle flavor to the food. Other types of well-seasoned wood are fine, except for pine, which is too smoky.
• Stay away from foods with a lot of fat. The grease from meat like chicken or rib eye steaks will create a lot of smoke, leading to a dirty flue and (we're assuming) a smellier, less pleasant grilling experience.
• Once you have a fire, use it! When you've taken the trouble to build a fire, it makes sense to cook as much as you can in the embers. In addition to grilling the main course, use the fireplace to prepare your side dishes — and while you're at it, maybe a little something for tomorrow's dinner too.
• Don't forget the vegetables. Chef Russell Moore describes an improvised dish of eggplants roasted directly on the embers, then mashed with olive oil, mint, garlic and lemon juice. With the added smoky flavor of the fire, this sounds so simple yet divine.
The article also includes step-by-step instructions for cooking in your fireplace, as well as this lovely description of the experience:
There are really no words to describe the pleasure of listening to a fire's hiss and sizzle as flames lick and embers pop and the living room fills with the aromas of roasting meat and burning wood. It's an instinctive passion, instilled in us from a time before words.
It's enough to send us hunting for an apartment with a fireplace! Have you ever cooked over an indoor hearth? Do you have any tips or favorite recipes to share?
• Read the article: Charred to Perfection, in Your Fireplace - The Wall Street Journal