If you have a back-yard fire pit, you could be cooking over it. But why stick with hot dogs and marshmallows?
If you get some heavy-duty roasting forks, you can cook nearly anything you’d grill right over the fire pit or campfire. A whole meal for one person can fit on a single toasting fork.
You can use the prongs as skewers for shish kebab. Stack pieces of sausage, chunks of beef or chicken with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, chunks of pepper — anything you’d put on a kebab — and toast it right over the embers, no grill or grate necessary.
Larger items, such as chicken breasts and even strip steaks, can be speared crosswise so both tongs penetrate the food. Then it can be turned over the heat with no danger of it spinning or slipping off the fork.
If you want to do a variation of hot dogs, try smoked sausages or imported Polish kielbasa, or fat knockwurst or mettwurst.
Stack ’em up
Start with the longest-cooking items, such as chicken legs or stuffed chicken breasts. After they have cooked for a few moments, add quicker-cooking items such as strip steak or shrimp, parboiled carrots, precooked potatoes or fresh sausage, and continue to cook, then finish up with quick-cooking goodies such as corn on the cob or buttered wedges of fresh cabbage.
For added interest, brush ingredients with seasoned butter while grilling or (of course) wrap with bacon.
Using a grilling fork means you can make minute adjustments to the heat your food is receiving; move it up or down for more or less intense heat. If food is blackening before it’s cooked in the center, raise the fork higher above the flames. If the food is staying cold and nothing is happening, lower the fork.
Adjust the fork from side to side to let thicker portions of food cook over the hottest part of the fire while the thinner ends stay cooler and don’t dry out, or rotate it to gives the outer tips a bit of time in the hot spot.
A full-meal-loaded fork can be heavy. Take the old fisherman’s trick of sticking a forked stick into the ground at the edge of the fire for propping up the fork, then set back and enjoy a nice summer beverage while keeping an eye on your dinner.
Poll: Which 2013 Taste Holiday Cookie Contest entry do you most want to try?