Indoor Charcoal Cooking - Parilla
I am about to begin a big renovation that will include a fireplace in the kitchen. I am considering an attempt to make this a potential cooking opportunity. Mostly for grilling not as an oven. Has anyone tried this? Any ideas on a particular mason in the Boston area who may have experience with this?
You'd have to find one who's willing to work outside the building code, if you're explicitly trying to incorporate charcoal. An apparatus for hanging food near a wood fire would presumably be another story...
My next door neighbors had a charcoal grill built into an old chimney. But that was done in the late 1950's or in the 60's and I doubt any building inspector officially knew of it - though I imagine more than one saw it over the years and turned a blind eye. The grill was a cut out and that meant the ash would fall while the smoke was directly below the flue and didn't fill the room. It wasn't large enough to roast a turkey or the like. My point is that ventilation becomes key if your cooking is generating a lot of smoke. You could put a charcoal grill on your stove and use it but the smoke would go everywhere because vent hoods aren't meant for that.
I haven't a clue about housing codes in Boston, but perhaps there are provisions if you go with industrial equipment. Maybe ask around more recent restaurants which have similar grills about their installers/contractors. lergnom hits the nail on the head: "ventilation becomes key". Not so much for the smoke, but for the carbon monoxide which comes with burning charcoal.
I'm thinking you'd need a make-up air source to bring in fresh air and a proper hood to evacuate the poisonous fumes and particulates. The system should be somewhat negative (the hood sucking more air than the make-up provides) to ensure proper ventilation. At least this was the case when putting a grill into a commercial kitchen years ago.
If you're interested in year-round operation, the make-up might have to be heated.
You might be shocked at the cost (I was) to be done properly.
A conventional alternative is to go with an indoor grill such as a Jenn-air. OK, not true charcoal grilling, but a much cheaper and practical alternative.
According to my Argentinean DH, normally the parilla (parilla quinchos for the home) is found outdoors, sometimes in a covered porch. The only indoor parillas are found in restaurants. As per lergnom, whether you can build something like that to code is another matter. I did find this site where they built a parilla quincho in their covered porch area, reminiscent of the parilla quincho found in DH's homeland: http://www.firepit-and-grilling-guru..... Good luck!
I used to cook in my fireplace all the time when I had one. I just used a camp grill over the wood embers. It worked fine. My chimney sweep was aware of it and said it wasn't causing any problems for him.
I learned how to do it from the owners of Al Forno restaurant in Providence. They just used some fire bricks to hold an oven grate and cooked on that.
I wouldn't use charcoal just wood that you would burn in the fireplace anyway.
Most of the cookware catalogues have tuscan grills with adjustable heights to use this way.
There are a fair number of resources for cooking in a fireplace and you can get grills, rotisseries and all sorts of devices. As long as you retrofit those after the fireplace is inspected and you don't add something permanent, you are presumably ok (although there is no guarantee how your insurance company will react if you were cooking when damage is done to the house). If you want a local resource for this, I think the BBQ Barn in Arlington may have some such items, but the Internet is probably the best resource. Alternately you could look into pellet grills which is still a developing technology and I know that Cookshack UL-lists much of their equipment, but it looks like not the charbroilers. The most sensible things, though, would be a pro-style range with a charbroiler and IR oven broiler, implements to cook in your fireplace, and the built-in grill of your dreams in your backyard!
Installing a permanent solid fuel grill is going to be very different. If you really want to go that route I would suggest you find someone who has done something similar, get advice from them, and make good friends with town inspectional services and your insurance agent (you probably want to get to know their insurance agent and have the name of the inspector in their town who approved the oven). I would also call local vendors like the BBQ barn to see if they know of anyone doing something similar. There was someone on chowhound a few years back who was installing a wood fired pizza oven in a new kitchen on the North Shore (Beverly?) and had gone through the insurance and permitting hurdles -- you might find them or someone else who has done that on the forno bravo forums. The advice to look at commercial installations is not helpful -- it will be as complicated and possibly more than a hand-built device installed in your household (there are different clearance, ventilation, fire suppression, grease cleaning standards, and more -- in general if its not UL listed, its not going in your home without a big fight). If you do a masonry grill with a separate chimney which is almost guaranteed, you are also talking a fair amount of additional weight, so there are structural considerations too.
In Brazil inside BBQ grills are becoming more common, although I am not certain if they are being put in houses where they get heavy use. In order to save on weight, they are often enclosed in tempered glass and use stainless hoods. You can get an Argentine style grill "grelha argentina" as an insert on a stainless frame with a pulley or in such a frame with fixed levels. However, Brazilian houses are built differently and in particular are usually made out of masonry materials and not wood. Building codes are different and enforced less (no CO detectors), plus the buildings themselves are not so tight. Traditional houses are so drafty, that wood stoves are still used inside (it used to be common to dry/smoke sausages over such stoves) with no chimney at all. In any case here is a picture of an installation like I mentioned with glass on a closed-in porch, but I don't think Brazil would be a good reference for here.