Wood Fired Oven: Roast Chestnuts

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Chestnut season is here and my mind turns to wonderful wintry recipes where I can add my own wood roasted chestnuts: chestnut stuffing, butternut squash and chestnut soup, cassoulet, bread and my list goes on. So, this isn’t so much a recipe as making an ingredient for my other recipes.

I simply criss crossed the chestnuts ( otherwise they explode!) and put them into my wood fired oven for 15-20 minutes at about 350-450 F. They should peel reasonably well and then chop up for your recipe.

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Wood Fired Pizza Oven

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There is a lot of choice when choosing the best kit for your outdoor kitchen and it is very important to make the right choice for your lifestyle and the type of food you want to cook. I am a huge fan of ceramic barbecues (sure you’ve realised that by now) and up until now I’ve used my Grill Dome for cooking pizzas and was pretty happy with it. Now I have a pizza oven I can directly compare the two types of outdoor cooking.

A wood fired pizza oven is a lot more interactive than a ceramic barbecue, the joy of a ceramic is you can set the temperature and walk away for hours without any worry. A pizza oven needs more tending and watching but, in its own way, its more interactive and fun to use. If you enjoy watching your food cook and poking around with fire and adding logs, a pizza oven adds that experience to your alfresco cooking.

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A ceramic barbecue is a closed unit and is purposely built to be like an oven, this gives it its incredible temperature control and very high fuel efficiency. A pizza oven is open to the elements and so is more difficult to get consistent temperatures, as you add logs you’ll get temperature spikes but that’s part of the learning curve of using an outdoor oven.

However, there is no reason that you can’t use lump wood charcoal in your pizza oven and then add logs, to increase its fuel efficiency and longevity.

Also, as a pizza oven is open to the elements, it’s not so waterproof. Ceramic barbecues can be used all year round and in all-weather. Not sure I’ll be using my pizza oven so much in the rain or high wind – but looking forward to firing it up in the snow.

If you are an authentic pizza fan but are also looking for an outdoor oven – wood fired pizza ovens are for you.

If you love barbecuing (low and slow, searing, dirty steaks etc)  and then want the versatility of an outdoor oven – ceramic barbecues are the best choice.

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Fornetto: Wood Smoked Beef Lasagne

 

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It is amazing how much cooking in a wood fired oven can transform any recipe – something like lasagne takes on a a whole new life. The pasta, cheese and sauce absorbs the smokiness of the wood and makes a stunning recipe.

This is how it is done:

ImageUsing a little oil brown off the mince in a large saucepan. Once browned remove from pan and then add a little more oil and all the vegetables and gently sweat down until they are all soft. Add the meat back into the saucepan along with the tomatoes and garlic and all the herbs. Mix together and cook for 5 minutes. Add the remainder of the ingredients and cook for another 30 minutes.

Start by placing a layer of dried lasagne sheets on the bottom covering the base. Then spoon over a good layer of the meat followed by a layer of the béchamel sauce followed by lasagne and repeat until you have reached the top. Sprinkle over 75g of grated cheese and place the sliced tomato on the cheese.

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Place in the pre-heated Fornetto at 250F for approx 40 minutes or until the lasagne has softened when you spike it with a knife.

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Recipe: 

100g finely chopped chestnut mushrooms, 230g finely chopped deseeded red and green peppers, 200g finely chopped red onion, 1 cup vegetable stock, 1/5 cup red wine, 2 tsp of fresh / or dry Parsley, Rosemary and Thyme, 2 cloves garlic peeled and crushed, 2 bay leaf, 2 tomatoes – sliced 800g tinned tomatoes, salt & pepper for seasoning, 200g mature grated cheddar cheese, 200g tomato puree, 800g lean minced beef, dried pasta sheets aprox 15, 1 tsp sugar

Béchamel sauce

500ml milk, 1 slice onion, 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick, 50g butter, 40g plain flour, 75g grated cheddar

Begin by melting the butter gently – don’t over-heat it or let it brown, as soon as the butter melts, add the flour and, over a medium heat and using a spoon, stir to make a smooth, glossy paste. Add about a ¼ of the milk still stirring mix it all together. Once the mix starts thickening add more milk and repeat until all the milk is used. Add 75g of grated cheese and gently mix together cooking for a further 2 minutes. Add salt & pepper to taste.

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So easy to make and easy to cook but the woody flavours in the lasagne are fantastic. Well recommended.

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Fornetto: Oak Wood Smoked Chicken with Thyme, Rosemary and Sage

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There really is no need to be fancy with a chicken when you wood smoke it. Just let the natural wood smoke flavour do its job and you end up with a perfectly cooked, perfectly tender roast chicken.

Fire up your Fornetto at least 20 minutes and get it up to 220 C (Fornetto is quick and easy to light and to control its temperature), I use a mix of lump wood charcoal and wood sticks; the wood gives a great smoky flavour and the charcoal gives longevity on the heat.

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Finely chop all the herbs and garlic and mix with the salt, pepper and olive oil. Use this mix to thoroughly coat your chicken, add some of the mix to the chicken cavity for extra flavour.
For the wood smoked roast potatoes and vegetables – peel the carrots and potatoes and chop into medium sized pieces, peel and quarter the red onion. Place on a heat resistant tray and add olive oil, salt & pepper.

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Place the chicken in your Fornetto on the lower tray, followed 25 minutes later by the potatoes, carrots and onions. Halfway through the cooking add a couple of small pieces of oak, close the vent and add some great smoky flavour. The chicken should be cooked in about 1 ½ hours but this depends on the size of the chicken. Once it has reached an internal temp of 74 C+ it is ready, take readings from both the breast and thighs.

ImageNot a fancy recipe, in fact just a typical Sunday lunch, but a million times better because of it being cooked outdoors and wood smoked. A chicken should always be cooked like this – if I had my way.

Recipe: 4 large sage leaves -finely chopped, 2 tsp rosemary- finely chopped, 1 tsp finely chopped thyme, salt & pepper, 1 whole chicken, potatoes – peeled and chopped into medium chunks, 1 cloves garlic -unpeeled and lightly crushed.

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Fornetto Wood Fired Oven: Four Cheese Deep Pan Chicago Pizza

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For those who think barbecuing is a still step too far but still want to cook outdoors – a Fornetto Wood Fired Oven is the perfect choice. Incredible easy to use and brilliant temperature control, I really enjoyed cooking on my Fornetto. This recipe is for a super large sized Chicago style pizza with 4 cheeses and three meats (I had to feed quite a few teenagers)  so to make normal 9″ deep pan pizza just reduce the recipe by half.

My Recipe:

Dough: 3¼ cups plain or pizza flour, ½ cup cornmeal, 1 ½ tsp salt, 2 tsp sugar, 21/4 tsp rapid rise dry yeast, 1 1/4 cups water (room temp) 4 tbs soft butter and 5 tbs olive oil.

Sauce: 2 tbsp unsalted butter, squirt of olive oil, 6 large chestnut mushrooms (peeled and sliced), 1 medium red onion peeled and sliced, 1 medium white onion peeled and sliced, ½ fresh oregano roughly chopped, 4 garlic cloves minced, ½ teaspoon fresh basil, ½ tsp sugar, 3 crushed bay leaves, 3 tins chopped tomatoes and 1/2 tsp rosemary and salt & pepper.

Topping: 125g mozzarella cheese – shredded by hand, 8 slices raclette cheese, 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese, 200g grated cheddar, 8 pork and nutmeg sausages with skins removed, 15 slices Italian salami, 5 slices ham.

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My Pizza Sauce:

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In a large saucepan, add the olive oil and butter and once melted over a low heat add the onions, mushrooms and garlic. Gently cook them down. Add the herbs and mix together. Finally, add the chopped tomatoes and allow to simmer until the sauce has reduced by at least a third. Add salt & pepper and once reduced allow to cool. You don’t want the sauce runny or this will soak through the dough when cooking.

 

My Deep Pan Pizza Dough:

In a food mixer – mix the flour, cornmeal, salt, sugar and yeast together until completely mixed and then add the water and melted butter and continue mixing. Start adding the water and butter until you have a ball of dough. Once the mix is complete, take the dough and put it into an oiled bowl cover with a towel and put somewhere warm to allow to double in size. This should take about an hour. Even easier is to throw all the ingredients into bread making machine and let it do the work including the proving.

Once the dough is ready (doubled in size) knock back for 2 – 3 minutes.

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Flour a surface and using either the palm of your hand or a rolling pin, start rolling out the dough until is circular in shape and about 1 ½ cm thick.

 

 

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Place this in your pre-oiled pizza dish allowing the sides to rest before adding the ingredients. Do ensure that your dish is quite deep as the dough will rise as part of the cooking process.

 

 

Add your layers of ingredients one by one starting with the mozzarella, 1/2 of the cheddar and racklette cheese. Follow this by adding the salami, sausage meat and ham – spreading all the ingredients evenly. Add the sauce on top, trim away any excess dough leaving a couple of inches and fold over to form a beautiful crust, brush with olive oil. Lastly, spread the parmazan evenly on top of the sauce.

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 How good does that look ?

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Place the finished pizza into your pre-heated Fornetto (approx 400 F) and leave to cook for about 30-40 minutes or until you can pull the pizza away from the side which should look a golden toasty brown.


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 By using lump charcoal and beech wood in the Fornetto, the pizza was gently smoked – adding extra flavour – making it a real wood smoked pizza with a crispy crust.

I’m really looking forward to cooking more recipes on my Fornetto….

 

Fornetto Wood Fired Oven: Wood Fired Cornbread

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Cornbread conjures up images of the Deep South of America, as a South African I have fond memories of a similar bread called Mealie Bread. These type of breads are quick, easy and cheap to make and are a fantastic compliment to chilli – I love Cornbread with my home made chilli.

Preheat your Fornetto Oven to 200 C using either lump charcoal or wood or a mix of both. Prepare a baking dish by greasing the sides and layering greaseproof paper on the bottom.

In a large bowl mix together all the ingredients (except the sweetcorn) until it looks and feels like a basic sponge batter, then mix in the sweet corn and give one final good mix.

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Pour your mixture into your prepared baking tray  and place in your Fornetto, cook for approx 25-30 minutes.

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Check if it is cooked by inserting a knife in the centre, if it comes out clean your corn bread is ready. Take out of the Fornetto Oven, transfer to a wire cooling tray and leave for about 30 minutes.

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Recipe:

350g plain flour
250g cornmeal (Palento)Image
1 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp
480ml milk
2 medium eggs
110g melted butter
small tin sweetcorn kernels, drained (or use fresh sweetcorn)