When it comes to fireside cooking, there’s almost no chance that you’ll end up disappointed with the flavor. Gourmet cooking firewood options like cherry and pecan impart a unique flavor that adds nuance to any dish–whether you’re grilling a steak, making healthy kebabs, roasting marshmallows, or just roasting up a classic hot dog. However, making great fireside food isn’t just about flavor. In the age of food-photo-sharing on social media, the presentation of the food can be just as important. And the way you decide to cook your food over your fire pit–whether it’s directly on the grill, using a roasting fork, or in a putting it on a skillet–can go a long way for determining the aesthetics of your final meal. Read on for five tips that can help you optimize the presentation of your fireside eats this summer.
Tip #1: Grill your meat and vegetables on the grill grate.
When you visualize grilled meat and vegetables, your mind immediately jumps to the characteristic grill marks on the sides of your meat and vegetables. These brownish-black diagonals won’t make your food taste like charcoal, but they will signal to whoever sees it that this gourmet cuisine was cooked on the grill. Therefore, in order to optimize the aesthetics of grilled meats like steak and chicken, as well as vegetables like bell peppers, onions, squash, and zucchini, simply lay them on the grill grate over your fire pit, use tongs to flip them over after a few minutes, and arrange them on a plate when you’re ready to show off the tantalizing grill marks to your family and friends.
Tip #2: Cook smaller foods on a skillet.
It is important to note that not all of your fireside eats are conducive to direct cooking on the grill grate. With smaller foods–like broccoli florets, cherry tomatoes, and small shellfish like shrimp or oysters–there’s a chance that they will fall into the fire if you lay them directly on top of your grill grate. While it might be possible to salvage them with your fire pit tongs before they become inedible, they definitely won’t end up with an optimal aesthetic, since you’ll have to brush off charcoal and dirt before serving. Therefore, with these smaller foods, it’s typically best to arrange them on a slat-free skillet before roasting them over your fire pit. Alternatively, you can slide them onto roasting forks and twist them over the flame until they are browned to perfection–another easy way to optimize the aesthetic of your meal.
Tip #3: Embrace color.
It’s summer, which means that you have an endless variety of color options when it comes to seasonal foods. Contrast a dark steak with bright red tomatoes and pearly white onions, or slide a rainbow of vegetables onto your roasting forks when you’re cooking up kabobs. For a patriotic treat on holidays like the 4th of July and Labor Day, roast up strawberries and blueberries, and then mix the warm fruit with bright white yogurt. No matter what, when you embrace a variety of summer colors, you’re bound to end up with a delicious-looking fireside cuisine that tastes just as good as it appears.
Tip #4: Make sure your marshmallows are evenly roasted.
For fire pit enthusiasts, roasting up the perfect marshmallow can be a singularly difficult challenge. Especially when you’re trying to roast the marshmallow using a curved stick, it can be almost impossible to brown the marshmallow evenly on all sides. The ultimate trick is to use a high-quality roasting fork. Roasting forks are completely straight, so it’s easy to aim for the perfect spot in the fire pit to roast your marshmallow. And when you rotate the stick, the marshmallow will be evenly heated on all sides, so you won’t end up with one blackened side and one side that looks like it was just plucked from the bag. Instead, you’ll end up with a marshmallow that’s perfectly golden, all the way around–an aesthetic victory that is matched only by the delicious s’mores that you can prepare with all your perfect marshmallows.
Tip #5: Keep your hot dogs and sausages well-cooked on all sides.
The same is true for hot dogs and sausages. Just like the perfect marshmallow, you don’t want one side of your hot dog to be blackened and the other side to be so raw that you’re not sure it’s safe to eat. In this unfortunate hot dog grilling situation–which often happens when you use a stick that’s not perfectly straight–the flavor will be dominated by the charcoal, and even adding condiments won’t make it look any more appetizing. Again, roasting forks are the solution. You can roast hot dogs and sausages two at a time, and the forks are perfectly straight, so as long as you keep turning the stick, your hot dog will end up well-cooked on all sides.
Cutting Edge Firewood is eager to see what you’re cooking up over the fire this summer, so don’t forget to tag us on Instagram in all of your fireside photos. Go to our order page now to get everything you need to have a great fire pit experience this summer!