This is a cookbook for those who love cooking with fire. It's written for people who like the taste of smoke, who aren't afraid of the right amount of char in the right places, and who want to be engaged by the act of cooking over a heat source that is never exactly the same each time you use it.
Eric Werner is the chef at Hartwood
, an off-the-grid restaurant in Tulum, Mexico, where everything possible is cooked over live fire. Here he adapts the ideas of his restaurant to the serious American outdoor kitchen, starting with a guide to building your own outdoor rig (in conjunction with an ironworker). He also addresses starting and tending the fire according to your immediate purpose.
Although there's a decided roughing-it aura around the book (it comes with a leather strip in place of the more customary cloth ribbon bookmarker), Werner's food is not meat, meat and more meat. There are cauliflower steaks with beer-raisin glaze, charred broccoli with vibrant green rice, and a grilled tomato gazpacho. And yes, meat, poultry, and seafood appear as well, from a butterflied grouper and chicken legs with onion and smoked date jam, to a standing rib roast with ember-baked potatoes and lamb chops with tomatillo barbecue sauce. There are even desserts and cocktails to round out the meals.
Not a beginner's book by a long shot, but a good choice for anyone comfortable with the flame.