Cooking With Fire: Rediscovering the Tastes of Traditional Wood-fired Cooking
By Paula Marcoux
Storey Publishing, May 2014

I have wanted to make a mud oven in my backyard for years. While I haven’t gotten around to that, yet, I knew I had to get this book as soon as I read the description. Not only is there a detailed section on how to build the oven of my dreams, there are also quite a few recipes that utilize it in its various stages of heating, from when it’s blazing hot to cooling down.

While I work up the courage, and muscles, to build my oven there are other fire cooking techniques that I can experiment with. This isn’t a book about grilling. Gas or charcoal grills are not used, but there is a way to repurpose a grill grate. The book builds from basic skills, cooking over a campfire, to the much more advanced building of the oven and cooking in it. In between there are sections about cooking on open hearth fireplaces, underground cooking (think lobster bake or a New England bean hole) and even making a tannur (authentically baked naan!) of clay chimney liner. There’s a fire cooking technique, and accompanying recipes, for any skill level. I can’t wait to try the mussels cooked under a layer of flaming dried pine needles this fall.

Ms. Marcoux used to work at Plymouth Plantation, demonstrating fire cooking from the Colonial era. This book goes way beyond that time period though. It goes around the world and details cooking methods that even date back to ancient times. If you are interested in cooking outdoors (or indoors if you have a fireplace) and would like to move beyond a gas grill, I would highly recommend this book. Even if you do nothing more than whittle down a stick and roast a marshmallow from the instructions, it’s still a fascinating book to sit down and read.

This post is part of Weekend Cooking at Beth Fish Reads.

I bought this book and was not compensated for this review in any way.


9 thoughts on “Cookbook Review: Cooking With Fire

    1. We’ve never visited Plymouth, but were in the area about 10 years ago. The kids were too little to really appreciate it, so we didn’t go. Would like to make it there sometime. I’ve seen smaller versions of mud ovens, so maybe I’ll try those before a big one. 🙂

  1. I love cooking over a wood fire! And one of these days I’m going to have pizza/bread oven in my yard. I think I need to get this book.

    1. It really is very interesting. I’ve never heard of make a tannur, but I want one now!

  2. I enjoyed Plymouth Plantation and learning about open hearth cooking.
    When you mentioned cooking underground, I first thought about my home state of Hawaii and cooking whole pigs in underground ovens. Delicious!

  3. I remember those demonstrations at Plymouth Plantation! Those were school trips, and I think they had similar demonstrations at Sturbridge Village as well. This sounds interesting and might help us when we camp since we’re crap with cooking over a campfire…unless its s’mores

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