For taste connoisseurs there’s nothing quite like grilling in the great outdoors. Many of the better restaurants do their best to recreate the outdoor grilling experience, which just goes to show the simplest things are usually the best.
But grilling is not the ultimate example of simplicity in food preparation. Roasting, broiling or frying over an open hearth is the forerunner to grilling and is the oldest style of cooking in the world.
Home fireplaces pay homage to the old-style open hearth. But they are viewed more as a quaint relic than a fully functioning “appliance” with practical value for heating or cooking.
The association of fireplaces with nostalgia or aesthetic values is unfortunate, because it blinds us to the cooking potential that blazing fireplace infernos actually possess.
Yes, it is true, you can cook food inside your fireplace just as surely as you can prepare it outside over an open charcoal-, gas- or wood-fired grill. Exquisite taste experiences can be created right in our very own rec rooms or living rooms, and it doesn’t take advanced culinary ability to produce them.
Methods of Fireplace Cooking
Inventiveness is always encouraged, but there are three dependable cooking methods that can turn help turn any aspiring fireplace chef into their neighborhood’s version of Bobby Flay.
Scrumptious fireplace foods can be prepared:
- Directly in or among the embers: foods like potatoes, onions, eggplants or sweet potatoes can be wrapped in foil and baked, while thick steaks can be successfully pan-fried in a heavy skillet.
- On metal skewers: shish-kabobs are always a treat and you can customize your fireplace recipes to meet your own preferences.
- Over the embers, as in grilling: a serviceable grilling platform can be created from two parallel rows of firebrick with space in between that can be packed with a layer of red-hot coals. Grills, frying pans, griddles or roasting pans can be placed on the bricks directly above the glowing embers, depending on what type of food you’d like to prepare.
You Can’t Beat the Open-Fire Cooking Experience
The benefits of fireplace cooking are many.
It allows you to replicate the outdoor grilling experience year-round and with far less expense. Fireplace cooking is possible at a wide range of temperatures, ranging from 160 degrees for roasting to 700 degrees or more for fast grilling. Weather and climate are no factors with fireplace cooking; in fact even power outages won’t be enough to stop you from preparing a full-course dinner on your home version of the open hearth. Finally, the experience itself has a real “pioneer” or camping feel to it, as if you and your family and friends were in the great outdoors roughing it and having a ball.
If you have a fireplace in your home, why not give this cooking thing a try? Start slowly, experiment, and discover what works the best—and tastes the best—for you. But please be careful and use caution, just like a normal there is a risk of fire. So be safe enjoy your new cooking ways.
Follow us at The Family Dining Room for more fascinating facts about food and food prep