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.