It is clear that I was an arsonist in a previous life. I love fire. I love cooking. So cooking with fire...that is the best.
Let's start at the beginning. In the beginning man cooked meat over an open flame. He survived, so really, how hard can it be? Well, harder than one might imagine. There is fire, but what kind of fire? Charcoal? Wood? What kind of wood? What kind of fire container? There are wood ovens, campfires, grills, big green eggs. Yes, meat is the obvious but what about breads and vegetables and seafood, oh my!
This is where Mary Karlin and Wood-Fired Cooking comes in. She has answers to all these questions. If they are not in the book, there are many answers at her web site, Elements of Taste. There you can also sign up for special cooking classes and find the most eco-friendly charcoal among other things.
Most cooing with wood type books are heavy handed on the barbecue side. Meat, sausage, a rub, a glaze, a sauce, throw in some beans and grilled fruit and there you are. With Wood-Fired Cooking one could just as easily leave out the wood-fired and have a great cookbook. (This is, of course, a bad idea as one would not get the nice char marks and smokey goodness that cooking over fire produces, but I digress.)
The book provides several cooking options depending upon each individual cooking nerd. (I mean that in a nice way, but if you have a roasting box and a big green egg invite me over!) Here is Karlin offering several ways to cook a duck or a chicken.
Tea-Brined Mahogany Duck
8 cups water
1/2 cup Darjeeling or oolong tea leaves
3 slices fresh ginger
2 star anise pods
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup honey
Two 3-pound ducks, or one 5-pound roasting chicken