How to Cook a Steak in Your Fireplace

Categories: Cook This

Fireplace Steak Artsy.jpg
I expected a strange look and a question or two from my dinner guests. After all, I was standing in front of a red hot fireplace with a wild look in my eye and a large flap of meat dangling from my fist. "Why aren't you using a grill?" one asked, which was easy to answer since I didn't have one. "You might use a cast iron skillet or your broiler," another offered before pointing out the obvious. "It would be easier."

And it would have. But I wasn't cooking a steak in the fireplace because I was worried about simplicity or ease. This was a matter of culinary adventure. Besides, it's not even that crazy. It's been done here, and over here too.

Fireplace Steak Coals.jpg
I let a massive oak fire burn down to coals and repurposed an oven rack as a cooking grate. A few extra logs help lift the rack to control the heat, but it was like trying to control a jet engine. The coals were very hot, and my steak burst into flames the second it hit the metal.

Fireplace Steak Start.jpg
A little water bottle wasn't going to control this flare up. I felt like I was cooking on the surface of the sun. I used tongs and moved the steak almost constantly as the flames chased me around the spitting coals. I turned the meat frequently to help it cook as evenly as possible.

In that moment I recognized it: the way the surface of the meat bubbled away like sugar turning to caramel in a dry pan. This is exactly what a steak looked like as it cooked the infrared broilers I've seen at high-end steakhouses. I was cooking with the same heat the pros used.

I'll admit the char I ended up with on the exterior of my steak was a bit aggressive, but it was earthy and brash and worth it. I let the steak rest under a sheen of olive oil and a foil tent for 15 minutes before I cut into its ruby center and opened a bottle of wine.

This steak tasted more like a steakhouse steak than any other I have ever prepared -- grill, broiler or otherwise. While the fireplace was a bit theatrical, burning oak into coals may be my new go-to method for cooking steak for friends. If anything, the spectacle is impressive. And the meat is all the more delicious for the effort.

Fireplace Steak Upskirt.jpg

Fireplace Steak Finish.jpg

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20 comments
NotAnon
NotAnon

"the char I ended up with on the exterior of my steak was a bit aggressive". I'm gonna borrow that next time someone questions my ability to gauge if something is done.

CitizenKane
CitizenKane

Can you please post a location map of this fine dining establishment?


J_A_
J_A_

How long was it over the fire?

primi_timpano
primi_timpano topcommenter

Sorry I cannot recall the source, but very recently I was reading something about a family's visit to one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten's restaurants in NY. The diner was talking to the chef and mentioned he wished he could could get similar results at home. The chef mentioned that it was easy, just keep flipping the steak every 15-20 seconds until it achieved the desired level of doneness.

Maybe next time you just need to flip more and faster.

Great experiment. Waiting to hear about the joint of beef being slow roasted in the fireplace.

KEVINK8
KEVINK8

If I bring the meat and potatoes, can we have dinner at your house? We ain't got a fireplace nor a grille ...

Joshstruckoutagain
Joshstruckoutagain

While burning oak into coals, in your fireplace sounds like such joy..I tend to open up a bag of charcoal, start it in my charcoal starter (genius-no lighter fluid needed, and a must have for any griller!) and then cook my steaks over that...course I'm not inside, where the ball and or chain can count my beer intake..so there's drawbacks.

Back in the day, I was known to warm a can of soup on the engine block of my truck..you might try that sometime too!

Scruffygeist
Scruffygeist

Can we not act like people haven't cooked that way for thousands of years?

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

I've done this before, and my wife has since banned me from doing it again!  She said, and I quote, "it smells like Lake Texoma".  I also wanted to put a fire ring in the backyard, and she quickly swatted that idea away-She says the City of Plano will arrest me. In the town that I grew up in in Massachusetts, people as late as the 70's were still cooking most meals on the hearth, in the back yard.......oh, how far we've come. 

Mervis
Mervis

Started reading thinking "WTF". Got to the end and thought "where can I get some of that?"

Sharon_Moreanus
Sharon_Moreanus topcommenter

Truly amazing. Can't wait to see what's next....hotdogs, s'mores???

Scott Strong
Scott Strong

Surprised he didn't melt the oven rack. Next time, he needs more space between the meat and the heat. It'll control flare-ups.

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@NotAnon 


As my dad used to say, "It's not burnt, it's golden brown. Shut up and eat."



kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@Joshwillbatforfood

The wife never worries about the beer intake; I mean how many can you drink  before you are full.....it's the semi annual bout with tequila that she worries about. 

"Back in the day, I was known to warm a can of soup on the engine block of my truck..you might try that sometime too!"  Back in the day my favorite road sandwich was ham and swiss, on a nice bun, placed directly on the block.  I usually put said sandwich on the engine in Amarillo, and take it off in Tucumcari-yum!  Don't want to waste a minute on the road!  Last year, on one road trip,  my bank shut DOWN my credit card because I had traversed too many states in a "reasonable" amount of time.  

scott.reitz
scott.reitz moderator

@Joshwillbatforfood Keep your soup. The fire place is a pain in the ass, but cooking over hardwood is worth the effort. You might try burning some smaller logs of oak or pecan down in a large kettle grill and try a steak cooked over that.

kergo1spaceship
kergo1spaceship

@Sharon_Moreanus 

f+ck that shit...stick a whole brisket in there!  Or atleast slather up a whole turkey with mustard and Tabasco, and if you cook it inside, "them bandits" won't get it. 

TheCredibleHulk
TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@scott.reitz @Joshwillbatforfood 


That steak looks pretty good and all, but good hardwood charcoal for your grill is available and easy to find. Any variety you like.


Also, I've got to imagine doing that on a regular basis is going to mess up your firebox pretty badly, not to mention the fact that a grease fire in your chimney would be a really, really bad thing. I wouldn't recommend continuing this practice unless you are planning a little grill out for your local firemen.

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