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‘Man Fire Food’ looks for a ‘Fiery Mexican Feast’ on Cooking Channel

Roger Mooking loving the branzino
Roger Mooking loving the branzino
Photo courtesy of Cooking Channel used with permission

On last night’s episode of “Man Fire Food,” Roger Mooking, chef, musician and lover of all things smoky and delicious, met up with his friend and fellow chef, Johnny Hernandez in San Antonio, Texas, to search for a “Fiery Mexican Feast.’

Johnny runs three restaurants, an event space, a catering company. In his spare time, he built a fifteen-foot outdoor kitchen, similar to those found in Mexico. This contraption has a fire pit, a grill and an area for the fire to burn. It is big enough to cook an entire feast.

They started building a fire using oak, pine and mesquite. While the fire was coming to its own, they prepared the Lamb Barbacoa with several spices and onions, then wrapped it in layers of banana leaves. Johnny used pulleys and chains to drop the drum containing the fire into the pit, and had someone tend to the fire for a few hours while they went to check out some sights in San Antonio.

For Roger’s first time in San Antonio, it was great to have Johnny along to show him around. At Market Square, they visited Mi Tierra, a restaurant open 24 hours. Johnny wanted to show Roger the bakery, just one of the several rooms inside. When Roger tasted the sweet Mexican breads, he was loving every bite. So rather than make dessert for the large party they are hosting, they bought lots of the sweet breads and sweet empanadas.

When they returned to the fire, it was perfect, so they loaded up a basket with giant leaves and wrapped the 25 pounds of lamb loosely in the leaves. They lowered the basket into the fire pit and covered it with a large clay cover, that will cook for about four hours.

Once the lamb was cooking, they started making the food on the grill. Starting with a fresh branzino, they used another large leaf with a citrus/licorice flavor to put inside the fish along with other herbs and flavors. Then put the same ingredients on the outside of the fish and wrapped it with the leaves and tied them. As they cooked them on the grill. Next, they made tortillas; Roger's first try at the tortilla press was a disaster, but fortunately, the masa was rolled again, and the next try was perfection. They cooked them on the clay tray that covered the lamb while it was smoking. The feast was fit for a king, and Roger was loving every bite on this episode of “Man Fire Food.”