Now Playing

Five Ways to Cook with an Inferno

Make friends with fire

Chief among the virtues of an open fire? Versatility. From its smoldering embers to its rising smoke, a single flame offers endless possibilities.

1. Above the fire: At TBD, chef Mark Liberman hangs whole legs of lamb and more and cooks them à la ficelle (by a string), letting the hot drippings fall into a waiting pan of onions and potatoes.

2. On the grill: Tim Caspare of Cotogna grills bistecca over hot coals for a short time to get a quick sear, then lets it rest until it reaches medium-rare juiciness.

3. In the embers: To make ember-baked carrots, Hi Lo BBQ chef Robin Song covers whole carrots with a bed of hot embers and cooks them slowly until they’re ready to peel and eat.

4. Within the flames: At Fog City, chef Erik Lowe cooks broccoli di cicco directly (and briefly) in an open flame to create a smoky char and then adds it to dishes such as albacore tuna salad, where it makes an earthy foil for the black garlic–miso vinaigrette.
5. Up in smoke: Cortney Burns and Nick Balla, co-chefs at Bar Tartine, give their potatoes the Holy Trinity treatment: The spuds are roasted, smoked over alder wood, and then fried, with addictive results.

Read more: 
Porno for Food Pyros 
Equipment: The It Grill
Three Steps to Becoming a Fire Tamer 
Know Your Wood
What to Drink With Your Smoke and Char
Environmental Report: Spare the Air—or the Dinner

Originally published in the March issue of San Francisco

Have feedback? Email us at
Email Rebecca Flint Marx at
Follow us on Twitter @sanfranmag 
Follow Rebecca Flint Marx @EdibleComplex