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Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way Hardcover – May 12, 2009
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-The New York Times
From the Inside Flap
From first spark to leaping flame to last dying ember, grilling has a new frontier and Francis Mallmann is its trailblazer. He offers more than one hundred recipes, ranging from griddled mussels to a whole salmon thats salt-roasted to juicy perfection, from beautifully burnt tomatoes to crunchy smashed potatoes and lusciously charred oranges, from a butterflied leg of lamb that cooks in just minutes toif you can imaginea whole cow that roasts for fourteen hours! He also shares the secret to perfect steak
every single time.
Born in Patagonia, Mallmann grew up in the Andes, in a house where everything from the heating to the hot water to the kitchen stove was sustained by ever-burning fires. As a true prodigy, he trained in the greatest French kitchens and went on to become South Americas most venerated chef. But at age forty he had an epiphany. He was, in his words, "tired of making fancy French food for wealthy customers in Buenos Aires." In an audacious move, he abandoned the fussy fine-dining scene to return to his roots and the language he describes in his mother tongue: fire.
Mallmann calls his techniques the Seven Fires and all are represented in this book, with some extras thrown in for good measure. In glorious photographs, Mallmann illustrates technique after technique, from parrillawhich is cooking on a grillto his boldest method, asador, in which a butterflied spring lamb or pig is fastened to an iron cross, where it cooks for hours in the glow of live coals.
A TV star in South America, Mallmann is a showman who adores cooking for a crowdhes served presidents, princes, and celebrities as diverse as Madonna and Francis Ford Coppola. Seven Fires is filled with food that anyone can prepare with little equipment beyond a heat sourcewhether its wood, charcoal, or gas fire. Signature dishes include Smashed Patagonian Lamb with Lemon Confit and Herbs; Salt-Baked Striped Bass; Boneless Pork Chops with Honey Gremolata; and Whole Andean Pumpkin Salad with Mint, Arugula, and Goat Cheeseas well as a surefire recipe for the perfect steak. And because we cant always cook outdoors year-round, indoor variations are given for nearly all the recipes.
With evocative photos that showcase Mallmanns food and the exquisite beauty of his home turf, Seven Fires will thrill grillers ready to explore the magic of fire, fine foods next frontier.
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Positive: The author's view on "the taste of burnt" alone will have you rethinking your grilling philosophy and tweaking your techniques. (Think of "burnt" as another positive facet of the food's taste and appearance.) Just thinking about the "Life of a Fire"--flames, coals, embers, ashes and cinders--will open your eyes to the possible ways that these stages can be utilized in the cooking process.
Positive/Negative: Indoor alternatives are provided to grilling the Argentine Way outdoors. You will need a WELL-ventilated kitchen. And the indoor alternatives are really not that exciting....(like cooking in a cast iron pan on the stove).
Negative: Unless you have a large untended yard, or live in a rural area on the edge of a forest or large field, the relatively simple techniques described will require a fairly elaborate set-up. The chapter "The Ways of Fire" threw up roadblocks for me, and I bet, will do so for most of you who live in established neighborhoods. For me, reading those few pages was like dosing a beautiful roaring fire with buckets of cold water. The book instructs you to: Use hardwood--chip-size up to 6"-9" in diameter and not less than 16" long; keep the fire away from buildings, fences and overhangs; avoid paved areas, lawns and underground piping; build a ring of large stones or have made a customized metal fire ring; find a solid, large solid piece of metal to use as a grill top; find a large grill grate, and build a structure to get your cooktops off the ground, and, hey, watch the wind direction, too. I've estimated that I need at least 8 square feet in which to set up my fire pit--if I want to do this correctly. And I can't find a place in our very large yard to put this whole scenario together: I've got to have a place to store the wood and then get it to the fire pit without too much effort; the fire pit can't be located under a tree; it can't be on top of underground pipe; I'm going to have to give up some grass, and then, when the fire is out, I've got to get rid of a big pile of ash.
So if you have a small manicured lawn, or no yard at all, or a poorly ventilated kitchen you may end up very frustrated if you buy this book! But if you do a lot of camping or picnicing out in the wild, or can find even a small place to burn on the ground in your yard, I bet you will be able to realize some value from this cookbook.
Cons: this was a gift for my husband and he has since went out and bought 6 more cast iron dishes to cook on! And now he needs some kind of outdoor wood oven$$$
Don't say I didn't warn you!
This is a real fire cookbook like no other. Its a masterpiece.
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