Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way by Francis Mallmann and Peter Kaminsky (Artisan Books, 2009) is a 2010 IACP Cookbook awards finalist in the International AND Single Subject category AND a 2010 James Beard book awards finalist in the Photography category. For a list of all the finalists check out the Project Foodie IACP Finalists' Guide and James Beard Finalists' Guide.
Of all the cookbooks out there that 'I want to have', Francis Mallman’s "Seven Fires: Grilling the Argentine Way" was definitely at the top of the list from the first moment I learned about it. Then after its release, foodies far and wide were singing its praises, which of course heightened my desire for it even more.
Photo by Santiago Solo Monllor
Last month after what seemed to be a lifetime (almost a year) I finally got my very own copy! I have to say that so far it has lived up to every positive review that I’ve read.
This book is far from your average tome on grilling. Chef Mallman, the most famous and popular Chef in South America, along with writer Peter Kaminisky takes you on a journey recalling Mallman's memories from childhood to the present day. Along the way they also share his skill of grilling great food on an open flame.
As I pour over the recipes and take in what are some of the best food photos that I’ve seen, I can almost smell the embers from the fire. I even have to stop myself from heading out into the backyard to start building my own wood burning fire pit or Parrilla (which literally means “torture“, or refers to the type of grill used for Barbeque in South America). Although some have said that the recipes would be hard to attempt in a more conventional grilling setting, I disagree. There are several recipes that would adapt brilliantly to any home grown fire pit or even a Weber kettle.
The first recipe I tried was a real showstopper, Braided Beef with Anchovies and Olives (see recipe below). This is one of the most unique ways that I’ve seen beef tenderloin prepared. The presentation is elegant and simple. The flavors of the olives and anchovies worked far better than I could ever imagine. And that’s just the start!
Braided Beef with Anchovies and Olives
Excerpted from SEVEN FIRES by Francis Mallmann (Artisan Books). Copyright 2009. Santiago Solo Monllor photographer.
I created this recipe for a restaurant I helped launch in São Paulo, Brazil. Serving meat, meat, and more meat to six hundred customers a day can get the chef in a rut. I was looking for some variety on the menu. This braided fillet is the result. You need to have a good relationship with your butcher for this-or become one yourself. It is essential to use a solid center-cut piece of beef fillet, partially butterflied so that you can cut it into three long strips still attached at one end. This is expensive, and many butchers don't like to give you this cut, because then they're stuck with the ends. If that's the case, you can buy a whole filet and trim it yourself; cut the rest into tournedos or meat for kebabs and freeze.
- 15 anchovy fillets, rinsed and patted dry
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 center-cut beef tenderloin roast, at least 12 inches long, partially butterflied
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Crush the anchovies to a paste in a mortar (or pulse in a food processor). Chop half the olives, and crush them together with the anchovies. Cut the fillet lengthwise into 3 long strips, stopping 1 inch from the end. Spread the anchovy mixture evenly along one side of each strip. Braid the meat tightly, tying it firmly together at the end with kitchen string (see photographs opposite). Use your palms to flatten the braid to an even thickness, then push any anchovy stuffing back into the braids. Brush the meat all over with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Brush a chapa or large cast-iron griddle with the remaining 1tablespoon olive oil and heat over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles on the surface. Add the beef and cook for 10 minutes, without moving it, or until it is nicely browned on the first side. Turn the meat over and sear on the other side for about 6 minutes-the meat should still be quite rare. Continue turning and cooking the meat until all sides are seared and it is done to taste. Transfer the meat to a carving board and let it rest for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, lightly smash the remaining olives and place alongside the meat. The juices will run together. Remove the string, carve the beef into thick slices, and season with pepper. Serve with the olives and juices.
Win a copy of Seven Fires
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Disclosure: Review copies of books discussed in this post may have been provided to Project Foodie by publicists and/or publishers.