• Letter From the Editors

    Technology has continually changed the way we cook. First, of course, was the world-shaking invention of cooking itself, which basically consisted of dangling food over flames. Many anthropologists mark this as the point when humans became truly human. Millennia later, the development of clay-fired bowls allowed us to begin boiling, stewing, and braising. After many more centuries came roasting in an enclosed space, also known as an oven. Then came gas and, eventually, electricity as cooking fuels. These not only made life easier but also eliminated the near-constant presence of ash in everyone’s home.

    More recent years saw the introduction of the microwave and induction, technologies that took cooking into the arena of the seemingly magical. The latest in culinary technology is sous vide, which involves cooking food very slowly, submerged in a liquid that’s at the temperature you want the food to be when it’s done.

    Each of these developments along cooking’s evolutionary arc has its advantages. But we find a particular satisfaction in going back to the beginning of it all—grilling outside over a live fire. In New England, where our test kitchen is located, this doesn’t begin in earnest until warm weather arrives. But we know that those of you in less frigid parts of the country grill year-round—plus, we’re always anxious to get back to our grills. So in addition to the many “indoor” dishes in this issue, we’ve got a couple of live-fire recipes to whet your grilling appetite. Andrea Geary uses the low, slow heat of the grill to make chicken drumsticks supertender. Steve Dunn explores every approach to cooking over a half-grill fire to grill pork tenderloin perfectly.

    We’ve got one more live fire–related story for you in this issue, though ironically it brings us back inside: Lisa McManus takes you with her as she personally tests a range of kitchen fire extinguishers. Because, though it’s been with us since we became human, fire is a friend that must always be treated with respect and care.

    —The Editors

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