Sunday, January 18, 2009

Throw Dinner in the Fire

Here's a fun idea for all you kids: cook your dinner in the fireplace! While the idea might sound kind of silly, it's not much different than cooking over a wood fired grill. This technique was first brought to my attention by my good friend The Caveman. Only joking. Seriously though, the fireplace is a perfectly acceptable place to cook your dinner provided you have the right equipment... like a fireplace. Instead of just dropping food directly on the fire I used a nice cast iron grilling grate that I bought a couple weeks ago (more on that grilling grate in later posts).

Step one was to prep the vegetables. I wrapped some medium sized carrots and radishes in a foil packet which would later steam/roast in the fire. The foil obviously protects the veggies from absolute annihilation in the heat of the fire and keeps those dirty ashes off your prized produce. You can season your veggies any way you want but I sprinkled in some thyme, olive oil, a squeeze of fresh orange, and salt & pepper.

Step two is to arrange the logs off to one side of the fireplace. It helps if you've given the fire ample time to burn to create a nice bed of hot coals. This fire was burning for about 6 hours before I started cooking. It's hard to see here because of the camera flash but believe me, there's plenty of heat going on. The cast iron grilling grate fits PERFECTLY on top of my fireplace grate which was a nice surprise considering I was doing this on the fly. Anyway, I would suggest keeping a fire going on one side of the fireplace. Obviously it generates additional heat and coals during the cooking process, but after you're done cooking you probably want to spread the fire back over the entire fireplace again to help burn off any grease.

Step three, cook that chicken. Below is the main course: a Poulet Rouge chicken from Harry's. This particular chicken is from a farm in North Carolina. As far as I know the farm supplies all the Whole Foods stores in the Atlanta area. They are quite different from your usual supermarket chicken. To achieve the Label Rouge status they have to be a slow growing breed, and have to be a minimum of 81 days old, among other parameters. Check out the website above for more info. The meat is more firm and has a distinct, chickeny flavor that is a far cry from the boneless skinless breasts from Tyson or Perdue.

The final result is below after about 45 minutes over the fire. Even if you don't cook your entire dinner over the fire, you can still have a little fun and toss in some foil wrapped sweet potatoes or other veggies.