Like so many other new owners of the Boring Company's Not-A-Flamethrower, my first thought was a simple but crucial one: "Now, what am I going to do with this thing?" Ellen Ripley cosplay? Make some new wood look vintage? Bend metal into jewelry? But the most obvious answer is practically as old as human history: when you have fire, you cook. So, after cooking, I jotted down some recipes in case anyone else wants to try them.
Though the Boring Company has suggested crème brûlée as a natural use for its souped-up propane torch, I am not an especially sophisticated cook, I don't own ramekins, and I have never successfully executed a water bath. So I kept it simple: steak and s'mores.
Before we begin, let's talk safety. The most salient rule of cooking with an open flame, as far as I am concerned, is that you need to make sure your hair is tied back. Not only is setting your own hair on fire dangerous and embarrassing, but the smell of burnt hair will completely ruin the flavor of whatever it is you are trying to make. Also, you probably want to have a fire extinguisher on hand, just in case.
A few thoughts on this particular cooking implement: igniting the Not-A-Flamethrower is a three-step process. First, you have to open the valve to the propane tank. Then, you need to press the button to ignite the pilot light. Then, you pull the trigger and continue squeezing for as long as you need the flames. In the case of the steak, condensation formed on the propane tank while I was searing, which is not uncommon when you work with propane. The liquid in the tank becomes vapor before passing into the Not-A-Flamethrower valve, which can draw heat from the surrounding air. How much condensation you'll see depends on how much moisture is in the air and how quickly the fuel is used.
How far the Not-A-Flamethrower shoots depends, in part, on how far you open the propane valve. While we made some impressive fireballs — the biggest was about five feet — it's possible to control the amount of flame you get by limiting how much fuel runs into the body of the device.
Now, to be clear: I've never made steak before because I don't eat meat. But I figured it couldn't possibly be that hard, especially since our producer, Felicia, did the hard part for me: she cooked the steak sous vide, then chilled it. I was just there to sear.
If you, too, own a flamethrower and want to expand your culinary horizons, explore a few handmade starter recipes below — and, as always, exercise extreme caution.
- chocolate bar
- graham crackers
Step 1: Open the packaging on all your ingredients. Break the graham crackers in half, and place pieces of chocolate on one or both of the halves.
Step 2: Place the marshmallows on an empty grill. (You may wish to grease the grill first, so any escaping marshmallow goo is easier to remove. I did not do this because I was concerned that oil would change the taste of the s'mores.) Turn on your Not-A-Flamethrower, and give marshmallows a once-over. While placing the flame close to the marshmallow will get you a nice charred outside, you may want to step back and let the marshmallows cook more slowly to get the insides nice and gooey, before crisping up the exterior at the end.
Step 3: Using grill tongs, a fork, or another utensil, remove the marshmallows from the grill and place them on the graham cracker pieces with chocolate on them. This will soften the chocolate.
Step 4: Optionally, you can place graham cracker lids on your s'mores to create a sandwich.
Not-A-Flamethrower Seared Steak
- steak (we used a T-bone that was about 1 1⁄2 to 2 inches thick)
- kosher salt
- seasoning to taste (rosemary, thyme, garlic cloves, and shallots are popular, I hear)
Step 1: Sweet-talk someone into cooking the steak sous vide for you, using the salt, the seasoning, and — of course — the steak. This is considerably easier if you are Tom Sawyer or if the person you're hoping will do the hard part is a video producer who wants to shoot a cool video. Ryan Sutton, Eater's chief food critic and friend of The Verge, suggests chilling the steak after sous vide, so tell your friend.
Step 2: Place the steak on an empty grill. Turn on your Not-A-Flamethrower, and get in there. The steak is tougher than the marshmallow, but you'll see a crust start to develop after several seconds of direct flames. The steak will begin to drip fat.
Step 3: Turn the steak over using tongs. Sear the other side.
Look, I'm an amateur cook, but even so, I'm not sure the Not-A-Flamethrower is the most effective method for getting the job done. A more focused flame or a hotter flame — like a kitchen torch — might be better on the steak, but I am told the sear was "surprisingly good" using this implement. Anyway, even though a Not-A-Flamethrower may not be the best tool for either recipe, it's definitely the most badass. I have certainly never before pretended to be Ellen Ripley while I cooked.