You can use the last heat of a wood or charcoal fire to efficiently roast garlic (or in an oven, roast the garlic at 400° for 1 hour). Napa Valley chef Michael Chiarello puts the soft, smoky cloves in salad, but doesn't stop there with roasted garlic: "I love it in vinaigrettes, pureed with vinegar as a marinade, under the skin of a chicken, spread on grilled steak. . ."
Whole heads of garlic
How to Make It
Cut tops off heads of garlic and set heads on a doubled piece of heavy-duty foil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Wrap and set on hot ash of a dying wood fire. Let roast for about 1 hour, rotating occasionally. When cool, squeeze roasted garlic cloves from skins. The garlic keeps 1 week in the fridge and up to 2 months in the freezer, wrapped airtight.
Note: Nutritional analysis is per garlic head.
The DIY Firepit
"You can do anything on this. It's a little like camping in the middle of your day," says Napa Valley chef Michael Chiarello. All you need is bricks arranged to fit under your cooking grate and some sand.
Build the pit: Spread a double layer of heavy-duty foil on the ground ("not grass," warns Chiarello, since it may scorch). Make it big enough to extend a foot beyond your cooking grate in all directions. Build a brick rectangle 3 layers high, leaving a couple of bricks out of the top layer on opposite sides, to encourage airflow. (For a standard 21-in. round Weber grate, the rectangle should be 2 bricks by 3 bricks.) Fill with about an inch of sand.
Light the fire: Put several balled-up sheets of newspaper in the center and position kindling into a tipi around it; lean larger kindling and then 5 to 6 small logs (preferably oak). Light the fire. "The tipi lets every bit of flame go up past 3 or 4 logs," says Chiarello, so the fire starts fast. Once the logs have caught, add several larger logs to the perimeter. Let them burn down to ashy chunks with low flames (1 1/2 to 2 hours). Because there's less smoke and char than cooking over a flaming fire, Chiarello says, "it makes your food taste much cleaner, gives nuanced flavor, and is better for wine."
Start cooking: Keep another log burning at the back of the pit. When it's ashy chunks, rake it into the main fire to maintain heat.
Bottega (Napa Valley, CA) and Coqueta (San Francisco)