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The Roasting Method Jacques Pépin Wants To Be More Popular
Wood-fire roasting is not practiced nearly as often as it once was, thanks to modern stoves and ovens, but legendary chef Jacques Pépin wishes it were more popular.
Speaking to Food & Wine, Pépin says that most foods can be drastically improved by contact with a wood fire, and even says that burnt foods have the best flavor.
Ovens are convenient, but they don't reach nearly high enough temperatures to create a charred exterior and tender and juicy interior like a wood fire does.
A fire is too hot to cook over directly, which is why meats are usually put on a rotating spit in front of the fire, limiting direct contact with the heat for too long.
The rotation also helps to cook meat more evenly and seal in all the flavorful juices. You can put food further away from the fire or dampen the flames to adjust the heat.
Intense, dry heat also greatly enhances Maillard reaction, which is responsible for browning foods and creates a charred, crispy surface that bursts with savory flavor.