Since it’s the middle of winter, you’re probably not heading outside and building a campfire to roast some marshmallows anytime soon. But when a craving for s’mores calls, don’t ignore it -- I can’t be the only one who’s made one over the fireplace. The idea had me musing, though, on what else we can make over the fireplace. Fire is fire, and it must have worked before ovens and stoves were a thing, right?
And in fact, cooking over wood gives your food extra flavor you won’t get from the gas grill in your backyard or kitchen oven. Before you get started, though, get yourself the appropriate tools: Things like a heavy-duty tongs, fireproof gloves, a durable meat thermometer and a good cast iron skillet will go a long way when you’re without the security of a standing grill.
There are a few different methods, and most require some extra equipment, but if you’re looking to get rustic and adventurous, here’s how to do it.
The most obvious way to roast a piece of meat over the fire is string turning, or à la ficelle (still a widely-used method in the south of France). By attaching a hook to the mantle directly above the fireplace and fastening kitchen twine tightly around your uncooked food, you can string it up and let it turn in front of the flames. You’ll have to be patient and spin it a few times for even cooking, but it basically guarantees an even roast and you can brag about it for a good long while.
Investing in a fireplace grill may not be at the top of your financial priorities list, but if making your dinner over the indoor fireplace is something you’re interested in, it may be worth it. It’s a lot more multifunctional than string turning, for one -- you can essentially cook anything on it, since it’s just a grate held aloft over the flames. Steak, veggies, a shrimp kebab perhaps?
Get a fire burning, and once it’s settled down, you can plop a Dutch oven on top of the hot embers. Keep an eye on whatever’s in the pot -- soups or stews are great choices -- and rotate and mix as needed until everything’s evenly heated and cooked through.
Grilled cheese, anyone? Just like on your family camping trips, a cast-iron pan is perfect for making everything from quick paninis and sandwiches to tacos. The pie iron is easy enough to wield that the kids can even (carefully) get in on it, and the possibilities for sweet treats like cinnamon rolls and mini pies are equally as endless. Grab the butter and go nuts.