I have a serious crush on Francis Mallman. The Argentinean chef takes the best ingredients and cooks them over live fire to create food that’s sensuous and rustic, lusty and delicious. Watch him on Chef’s Table and fall in love with him yourself. Watch, and like me, you’ll want to invite your friends over and cook everything over a burning fire, from a charred tomato appetizer on grilled bread to dessert.
This weekend, we skewered a rack of pork chops and let it turn over a pan of potatoes set atop the grill. The pork sizzled and popped, and its juices dripped on to the potatoes as they caramelized and crisped up. We grilled peaches and tossed them with arugula and torn prosciutto and the merest drizzle of vinaigrette. This was an elemental dinner, smoky and complex, with the fire acting as an essential, mysterious ingredient. We put everything on big platters and turned on Nina Simone and everyone ate unabashedly with their hands.
We’re in the full flush of berry season now — inspired by the plump ripe strawberries at the market and Adam Sachs’s editor’s note in Saveur’s grilling issue, we chose Ember-Roasted Strawberries as the perfect end to a perfect dinner. There’s not much to them in terms of ingredients or technique, but the alchemy that happens when you put the best berries over mellow coals is magic indeed. These would be perfect for your July 4th cookout — when the meat comes off the grill, just brush the grate and roast the berries through dinner.
- 1 quart of strawberries, washed and hulled
- 3 c. red wine
- 3 T. honey
- 1 half gallon best-quality vanilla bean ice cream
- Place the strawberries on grill grate over embers. As they cook, turn them gently so they cook evenly. You want to cook them very gently so they absorb the wisps of smoke from the fire, but you don’t want them to char or blacken or get grill marks, just cook gently so they are warm, plum, and soft.
- When they’re cooked, remove them to a pan and set aside.
- While the strawberries are cooking, reduce red wine down to 1 cup in a small saucepan. When reduced, swirl in honey. Serve strawberries over vanilla ice cream, drizzled with red wine sauce.