this romani bacon open-faced sandwich over an open
fire with slab bacon.
scents of wood smoke and burnt sugar remind many people of
times spent around a campfire singeing marshmallows for símores.
people ever move beyond cooking marshmallows or at most, a
hot dog on a stick, over a fire.
of recent books aim to inspire people to rediscover the joys
of cooking over fire: "Smoke: New Firewood
Cooking," by Houston chef Tim Byres, whose book won a
James Beard book award earlier this year, and "Cooking
With Fire," by former archaeologist and food historian
says the renewed interest in firewood cooking dovetails with
broader trends: a desire to eat more local foods, to know
where food comes from, to move away from processed foods.
is touching a nerve. People are tired of being divorced from
their food," she said. "Turning on an electric
stove or gas stove ó those are things that donít have
the same kind of satisfaction or the social life as around
over a fire is more than meal; it becomes an event. Not only
does it allow people to reconnect with a childhood pleasure,
but now as adults they have a kitchen full of tools and
skills at their disposal.
style of cooking cannot be rushed. The food tastes better
cooked slowly ó a lesson learned by anyone who has tasted
a blackened marshmallow with a springy center. It creates an
opportunity to gather together, tell stories, sip a beer or
a glass of wine and savor the experience.
will pay off in the end in terms of taste, said Johnson
& Wales cooking instructor Robert Brener, who built an
outdoor fireplace for cooking at his Charlotte, North
Carolina, home six years ago.
cannot create the amount of heat with gas or electric,"
he explained. "You canít get man-made heat that
high heat, Brener said, creates a better crust and
caramelization, as well as that smoky flavor: "You get
much better texture and a much better flavor profile."
indication that cooking with wood may be catching on in the
Carolinas: Thereís enough interest to support a company
that sells locally harvested firewood.
Williford started Carolina Cookwood, which is based in
Upstate South Carolina, in 2009. His restaurant customers
include North Carolina and South Carolina locations of
national chains, Firebirds and Romanoís Macaroni Grill, as
well as Charlotte restaurants Roosters, Fahrenheit, Upstream
and Mimosa Grill. Bags of Willifordís wood chunks, a
product for grilling and smoking enthusiasts, are sold at
Whole Food stores across the state.
some, the obsession with cooking over fire begins with
camping trips or Scouts.
Krause got involved with Scouting with his 12-year-old son,
Campbell, and Pack 3 at Myers Park United Methodist Church
in Charlotte. Starting as Cub Scouts, Krause said, the boys
learn how to light a fire (with adult supervision, of
course); how to toast a marshmallow; how to make what is
called a "hobo pouch" (pieces of food in a foil
packet and placed on the coals); and eventually graduate to
cooking with a Dutch oven.
boy doesnít like to play with fire?" Krause asked.
"So weíre teaching them how to do it responsibly. The
boys walk away feeling empowered. . . . Itís great to
watch." Krause now competes on a barbecue team.
aficionados are seduced by different wood-fired foods, like
bread for N.C. State University assistant professor David
Auerbach, who built a wood-fired oven in his Durham, North
Carolina, backyard 16 years ago. Or tomato pies, like Bob
Radcliffe, who holds monthly pizza dining events at his
Lynch Creek Farm in Franklin County to use the wood-fired
oven that he built.
desire to create a space to indulge in wood-fired cooking
delights Marcoux. She says so many people have told her:
"Your book inspired me to make a fire pit in my
she said, is her greatest pleasure: "So many people did
it. Iím excited to inspire people to do the simplest
WILL YOU NEED
pit: Fireplace or a cleared space in the yard. (Fire pits
can be as sophisticated or humble as you like. It can be
lined with bricks or rocks or not. At its simplest, just
pick a patch of dirt clear of debris and away from
Kindling (twigs, pine needles, small pieces of bark, pine
cones, paper); small pieces of softwoods, like pine, to
start the fire; and larger logs of hardwoods, such as oak,
maple and hickory.
Lighter or matches, fireplace tools or a shovel are
necessary; leather barbecue gloves can be helpful.
tools: Long metal skewers, grilling forks and grilling
spatula, a flat griddle and bricks or a cast-iron skillet
will be needed for campfire baklava.
from "Cooking With Fire," by Paula Marcoux (Storey
Italian frying peppers, seeded and diced
Hungarian wax peppers, seeded and diced
large white onion, diced
pinch of salt
tablespoon balsamic vinegar
ground black pepper
rye bread or other rustic bread
pound very best quality slab bacon, with rind
peppers, onion, salt, vinegar and black pepper in a small
bowl. Set aside.
bread, about 4 to 6 slices. Toast slices and set aside.
bacon into oblongs of about 1 by 2 inches. Then carefully
cut crosswise repeatedly into the meaty face of your piece
of bacon, making parallel cuts about 1/4 inch apart; do not
cut all the way through. Imagine that the chunk of bacon is
a little book, and that the rind is the binding.
several spoonfuls of pepper-onion mixture on top of the
toasted bread. Have a plate close at hand while cooking the
skewer through the "bacon book." Use a fire shovel
or stick to drag out some glowing coals in front of the
fire, making a nice coal bed.
everyone roasts his or her own bacon over the coals. This
can be slow going and cannot be rushed. Turn to cook all
around. As bacon sizzles, pull off the heat and let
drippings fall on the bread. Once bacon is crispy all over,
you can pull off chunks and top the bread. Or remove bacon,
chop it before topping the bread.
recipe requires a flat griddle. Our recipe tester used the
cast-iron one intended for her gas range, perched on bricks
over a bed of hot coals. A cook could also improvise by
setting a cast-iron skillet on top of some coals. Either
way, barbecue gloves are essential to place the griddle or
the skillet over the coals. Adapted from "Cooking With
Fire," by Paula Marcoux (Storey Publishing, 2014).
ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
teaspoon kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup lukewarm water
cup walnuts, finely chopped
tablespoons butter, melted
dough: about an hour before you intend to bake them, mix
flour, salt and 2/3 cup water together in a small mixing
bowl with a fork. Add a bit more water as necessary to make
the dough come together. Knead dough until it is very smooth
and uniform. (You may have to dip your fingers in more flour
to be able to work the dough.)
dough in four equal pieces and knead each one into a nice,
smooth ball. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and
let rest for an hour.
walnuts, sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and set aside.
Combine honey and water in a small measuring cup. Stir to
thin honey and set aside.
flat griddle over a bed of coals.
flour work surface. Take one ball of dough and press it into
a disk. Flour a rolling pin and roll dough into as large a
circle as possible. Pick up dough and place your hands,
knuckles upward and under center of dough circle. Gently
stretch your fingers and hands apart, rotating dough to
stretch it evenly.
dough center is pretty thin, move on to stretching the
edges. Take dough by the edge and work your way around the
perimeter, stretching little sections as you go. If you make
a little tear near the edge, do not worry; it will be buried
in the pastry. Be careful not to rip the center.
pastry back on a very lightly floured surface. Brush surface
of dough with melted butter and deposit one-quarter of the
filling in a 3-inch square in the center. Fold the upper and
lower edges in part way, covering the filling. Brush a touch
more butter on any unbuttered surfaces, then follow suit
with the left and right flaps. You should end up with a
nice, compact, square packet. Repeat with three remaining
balls of dough and filling.
have a clay pot, place honey water in it and nestle that in
the coals to bring to a simmer. If not, just warm the honey
water in the microwave and set aside.
many of the pastry packets as will fit onto the hot griddle.
Brush any exposed unbuttered surfaces with melted butter.
Bake for 4 to 6 minutes on one side. Flip. Brush with butter
and bake another 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from griddle to a
plate. Cut in half diagonally and drizzle with honey. Enjoy
is the campfire version of grilled cheese. Have toasted
slices of your favorite bread on a plate nearby. Use a
skewer, grilling fork or a stick to impale a 1-inch cube of
cheese ó such as cheddar, Gouda, Muenster or whatever is
your favorite ó on the tip. Hold skewer over bed of coals,
turn slowly for even exposure to heat. No quick movements.
When cheese starts to drip, move away from the coals and use
the bread to catch the drips. Return to heat. Repeat. Be
attentive and ready in case the cheese falls off the skewer
into the coals.
and bread can always be enhanced. Consider these toppings
alone or in combination: mustard, fig jam, mango chutney,
tomato jam, thinly sliced onion, tomato slices, avocado,
sliced apple or pear, prosciutto, sliced olives, jalapeno
slices, chowchow and olive tapenade. Or better yet: top with
some toasted hunks of slab bacon from the Romani Bacon
from "Cooking With Fire," by Paula Marcoux (Storey