This weekend, some friends rented a house in Vermont. It was requested that I make “tandoori” lamb for Saturday’s dinner. I knew it wouldn’t be as good as past versions when I’ve roasted the meat over a wood-charcoal grill. It wouldn’t get the intense heat of the grill to caramelize the meat nor the nuanced flavor only achieved by wood smoke. I doubted the rental house would have a grill (and given the weather, didn’t know that I would be able to cook outside anyway) and I didn’t want to make the mess of searing the meat on the stovetop either. But when I saw the wood fireplace in the dining room, I knew we were in business!
Cooking in the hearth requires a vigilant eye while the food is cooking. The temperature fluctuates depending on the strength of the fire. And as the logs burn and the fire moves around, the cooking pots will need to be rebalanced. Occasionally rearranging of the logs and the pots ensures even cooking. I use pots that I don’t mind getting dirty, as it’s tough to clean off the smoky residue. Better yet, you can use
…and if you wonder why I prefer wood burning fireplaces over gas, this is it! Hopefully, someday I will again live in a house with a fireplace.