The joys of fire, from keeping us warm to cooking delicious food, this magical element has enticed and lured us for close to a million years and cooking with fire has never been as popular.
The world’s top chefs obviously use fire and heat for the preparation of their food. However, one chef has taken it in another direction and centred his whole style of cooking around fire, turning humble ingredients into high-end cuisine with the simple method of cooking with glowing embers and different levels of heat.
He states that the BBQ is not just for the summer months, saying;
“A warm, sunny late afternoon . . . should not be the only time you cook out of doors. Cold days, windy days, snowy days, rainy days, dark and cloudy days all have their charms and challenges to the builder of fires and the griller of food.”
It’s his simple philosophy of enjoying the outdoors and more importantly, the moment, adding;
“Just like you might pack a favourite sweater for a journey, I take my grill wherever I go. For this book, I travelled from Patagonia to Paris, from Brazil to Berkeley locating new ingredients, building fires, making meals that let fire work its timeless magic. All I need—all anyone needs—for this primal pleasure is flame and food.”
And we must agree, what is the better experience? Sitting at home and rustling up a breakfast sausage sandwich or hiking through the forest to find your own slice of solitude, before building a fire and grilling sausages on a carved tree branch with loved ones, as seen in the image below… it’s a no brainer really!
Francis Mallmann sat down with GrindTV where he opened up about all things surrounding flame and food, as well as the joy of cooking with fire brings to him.
On what cooking outdoors means to him… “For most people, the mere thought of grabbing a basket packed with a picnic and thinking of an outdoor space to enjoy is just that—only a thought. Cooking outdoors captures the romance of a place and creates a moment where you can remain silent beside the aura of fire.”
For those who are about to venture outside to cook for the first-time Mr Mallmann offers the advice that people should “be attentive, and stay aware of the wind! The weather can affect temperature and timing. Wind can blow heat away from the coals or can cause the coals to burn more intensely. Many beginners try cooking food on direct flame. Avoid it and instead make use of the mature, glowing coals.”
He goes on to mention the different stages of the fire and notes how much you can get out of your fire when you replenish it. At the first stage of the fire the charcoal burns extremely hot; this is perfect for cooking thin slices of marinated meat and vegetables. As the coals get covered in white ash the fire is the perfect temperature for slow roasting bigger cuts of meat, obtaining the much-desired crust and the caramelisation of vegetables and fruit.
He also touched on one of his top tips for maintaining a desirable fire for cooking over a substantial period of time, commenting;
“One of the main differences between Argentine and North American styles of grilling is that we often add mature coals to the fire for longer cooking, rather than lighting more coals and waiting for them to burn down.
The best way to do this is to start some more charcoal in a separate spot (a second grill or any fireproof surface is quite handy for this purpose). Then add the already burning coals to your cooking fire once they are uniformly glowing. Rake the coals into larger piles for high heat, or spread them out evenly for more even lower heat.”
You can watch Francis Mallmann on Netflix on ‘Mind of a chef’ and ‘Chefs Table’, watch the trailers below to get all the inspiration you need to start cooking outdoors all the time!
If you don’t want to head out into the wilderness just yet, due to the cold, you can always grab a commercial griddle for sale at Tasty Trotter and start your outdoor culinary journey in your back garden. We also have a charcoal spit roast BBQ for that authentic taste of smoke that meat eaters the world over seek out!
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