Page 17 - The Hunt Magazine - Winter 2019
P. 17

                  During this time, I subjected friends to sitting on cushions in front of the fire while we took turns melting sections of a large chunk of raclette cheese firmly situated on a small, clean, black shovel. Each would,
in turn, scrape the melted raclette unto halves of small, boiled, red bliss potatoes, then adding a dollop of Dijon mustard. This would be accompanied by slices of sourdough bread, a few zesty gherkins and giardiniera (an Italian relish with pickled vegetables). Everything was washed down with a floral but crisp white Swiss wine.
Alex Kaplan smiles when I tell him this story as he shows me around his Chadds Ford Fireside Store on Route 202. “We used to have more fireside cooking instru- ments at our old store,” he says.
“But today, everyone is interested in the automated fireplace.” That said, he points out items that would be helpful for those just getting used to cooking with fire:
1. A multi-pronged fork that can be used to roast hot dogs or marshmallows.
2. Wide fireplace shovels that can be used for making raclette or roasting chestnuts.
3. A wire holder at the end of a long han- dle for making grilled cheese sandwiches. 4. A cooking “crane”—a swiveling metal bar that can be mounted on a fireplace wall to swing out over the fire holding a cast iron pot to cook everything from soups to stews.
5. Sturdy trivets that can be placed at the edge of the fireplace as a base for skillets or pots to cook meats and vegetables beside the flames.
“Food cooked in a fireplace tastes mar- velous, better than food cooked in most conventional ways today—the charcoal [grill] included,” says Suzanne Goldenson in the preface to her revised edition of
The Open-Hearth Cookbook: Recapturing the Fla- vor of Early America. “And with a few minor exceptions—large cakes, soufflés and other delicate confections—most anything one could desire to eat can be easily prepared in a fireplace.”
Local chef and university instructor Brian Shaw gives this succinct advice on cooking temperatures: “Slow and low for stews and braising, hot as hell for searing, and indirect,
controlled flame for a roast.” Indeed, most cooking is done beside, not over, a fire.
Spitjack, an online fireplace supply
firm founded by New England chef Bruce Frankel, offers a variety of specialty items for more advanced cuisine. A horizontal rotisserie on a base and tripod allows large pieces of meat to be cooked and rotated so each side can face the fire. An adjustable Tuscan grill can be set up easily above the flames for flat cooking. For large fireplaces, there are spits for roasting pigs or legs of lamb. (For more, visit www.spitjack.com).
Of course, there are dangers to cooking inside that you won’t face on an outdoor grill. The main one is setting the house on fire. Cooking flames should be small anyway, and easily flammable articles, including loose clothing, should be kept well away. You’ll also need caution to avoid burns both from the fire and from superheated cookware.
Obviously, the fireplace needs to be tested in advance to be sure the chimney draws well and doesn’t send smoke and cooking odors into the house. In fact,
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