Men like to play with fire. And male chefs sure like cooking with it.
What’s the appeal? First, the primal aspect of it all. Second, the technique makes use of the residual heat that would otherwise just dissipate and go to waste. Third, it adds a gentle yet deep smoky quality.
I thought I’d give it a try, particularly when a free copy of the new “Michael Chiarello’s Live Fire” (Chronicle Books) landed in my mailbox for reviewing. Chiarello is a major fan of live fire. Every Northern California he’s worked in or owned — Tra Vigne, Bottega and Coqueta — all feature grills with live fire.
The book includes 125 recipes for cooking everything from seafood to pizza to desserts over a live fire. Of course, not many of us may have the space to cook a whole baby goat on a spitjack in our backyard, but there are plenty of recipes easily do-able even on a compact grill.