With the barbecue craze on everyone’s mind, it is the best time to talk about cooking in an outdoor fireplace. Even though nowadays fireplaces associate with a cosy and warm time together with your family in the living room enjoying the roaring fire, it hasn’t been like that for long.
Fireplaces for centuries were used not only to heat up the house but also cook the meals, and we are talking about indoor fireplaces here. Cooking in the living room might not be for you. That’s fine. An outdoor fireplace is a much less intimidating option. And let’s be honest, we all like grilling, so it should be an exciting challenge.
However, we are not saying that cooking complete meals in your fireplace are easy. It is a demanding process and requires skill, that we have forgotten over the years using gas and electric cookers. But here are few tips and ideas of how to do it.
There are a number of basic ways you can cook in a fireplace. Let’s start with an easy one. Wrap some vegetables, for instance, potatoes and carrots, in tinfoil and let them bake in hot coals right after the fire has stopped. The tricky part with cooking in a fireplace is that you never really know when the food is ready unless you use something to measure the heat. To know if the food is properly cooked you can use a sharp knife or a cooking thermometer.
To cook large chunks of meat, hang it in front of the fireplace and let it cook while slightly spinning it. First, you will need to put a needle or a hook in the front of your mantelshelf and secure it. Light the fire and be prepared to keep it burning for the whole cooking time. Carefully tie the herb marinated roast in a string and hang it in front of the middle of the flame. Putting a pan below it will catch all the dripping fats and juices. Extra tip: keep the string at the top wet so it doesn’t get dry and rip.
A Dutch oven is another classic for preparing meals in a fireplace. If you are not familiar with the term, a Dutch oven is a special earthenware or cast iron cooking ware with a lid. Light the fire and leave some space on the side for the Dutch oven. After preparing the recipe of your choice put some burning embers in the free area and place the Dutch oven on them. You can also put some embers on top of it to ensure a thorough heating. Depending on the time needed to complete the meal you might need to swap the coals for new hot ones. Dutch oven especially great for stews but you can also cook pies and cakes in it.
Food cooked on a burning wood will give your food an exceptional taste. For the best outcomes choose fruit wood or any other well-seasoned wood. Something that you should try to stay away from is pine as it is extremely smokey. You should also avoid cooking fatty foods as the fat dripping on the coals will create a lot of smoke. At least for us, less smoke means more pleasant cooking experience.
Now, when you’ve got the basics of fireplace cooking down, the next step is to find a recipe to try your newly acquired skills. There is a whole heap more foods you can cook in a fireplace than you would have thought. Soups, stews, steaks, roasts, pies, cakes and also mouth-watering vegetarian meals. Make an evening of it with your friends and come back to us with your best attempts.