cover image Michael Chiarello’s Live Fire

Michael Chiarello’s Live Fire

Michael Chiarello. Chronicle, $35 (224p) ISBN 978-1-4521-0181-1

Chiarello, the Napa Valley chef and vintner, thinks big in this oversized and highly enjoyable harbinger of spring. These 125 recipes are not about traditional barbecue, they’re about taking a variety of heat sources and maximizing their potential. Seven fiery methodologies are explored employing the grill, the hearth, the plancha, the pit, the hot box, the rotisserie, and cooking in embers. The author’s Italian roots show through in dishes like grilled pasta with grilled meatballs, where the spaghetti is lightly oiled and cooked in a grill basket before being sauced. There are a few whole-animal bacchanals, including baby goat on a spitjack, and lamb on an iron cross; and for white meat lovers, a hot-box recipe called chickens for twenty. Sliders are ignored in favor of a three-pound burger, which is flipped using a pizza paddle and served on a bun made from an entire loaf of country bread split in half. Slightly smaller but equally playful options include a leg of lamb on a string, which hangs and twirls from a hook beneath a fireplace mantel, and “smashing pumpkins with mint pesto and goat cheese,” which calls for the entire gourd to be covered in embers, then slammed into a sharp object. Heatproof gloves are a necessity, and should liquid courage be required, there is a chapter offering nine cold drinks, including a smoked tequila margarita. (May)