FIRE COOKING by Nick Weston
Cooking directly onto coal, or dirty cooking as it is also known, is the purest form of fire cookery that there is. It means cooking food directly on hot coals, just as our ancestors would have done.The flavour is much more intense than anything that’s been on a grill, and dirty cooking isactually a lot gentler than you think. The ‘char’effect on both meat and vegetables adds to the end product, giving a depth of flavour thatgrilling wont deliver.
1 roe deer haunch
30 small soft corn tortillas
FOR THE SPICE RUB
1tbsp cumin seeds 1tbsp coriander seeds 1tbsp garlic powder 2tsp cayenne pepper 3tbsp olive oil
FOR THE SLAW
1 red cabbage, finely sliced
1 large red onion, peeled and finely slicedJuice of 2 limes
2tbs cider vinegar
4tbsp olive oil
FOR THE BURNT ASH SALSA
2 brown onions
1 bulb garlic
2 large tomatoes
2 long red peppers
1 long red chilli
Handful of wild fennel stalks 2 limes
1tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
First, get your fire on the go. It is great to start the haunch off suspended over a fire on atripod, so that it begins cooking and takes on some of the smoke. You’ll want a good indirect, gentle heat to cook over at the beginning.
Prepare the rub for your meat. Toast the cumin and coriander seeds in a small pan over thefire for 2-3 minutes, stirring continuously untilfragrant and toasted. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind to a powder. Then return to the pan off the heat and add the garlic powder, cayenne pepper, olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Rub the spice rub over the haunch thensuspend the meat over the fire to start cooking.Turn it now and again to ensure even cooking and cook for about 45mins – 1hour. At this point it doesn’t matter how well cooked themeat is as it will finish its cooking later on.
Meanwhile, prepare your slaw. Put the cabbage and onion into a bowl and toss together, then season with salt and pepper, and toss well. In a separate bowl, mix together the lime juice, vinegar and olive oil. Set aside until 10 minutes before serving.
Now get your charcoal or wood below the tripod prepared for your dirty cooking. Before dirty cooking, make sure you have a really good bed of embers. It should be at least 5cm thick, with a good spread so that when you
go to flip you are able to put the meat on afresh bed of coals. If cooking on burnt-down logs, make sure you have a second one up tospeed and ready to go, so you can flip the one just used back onto the fire in case you need itagain.
When the embers are red hot, flatten out a bedfor the haunch and fan any ash off the embers. A tray or similar is great for fanning off the ash.
Put the haunch directly on the hot coals
for a good sear. Remember, its all about
the temperature, not the timing. Check the haunch to see if its forming a good crust andthen flip it over onto a fresh patch of coals. Youare looking for an even internal temperature of 55C (for medium rare) which you can check with a digital thermometer.
Start your vegetables off for the burnt ashsalsa. Put the onions and garlic on first, layingthem directly on the charcoal or embers, and cook them for about 10 minutes, turning every so often so they get a good even char on them.
Add the tomatoes and red peppers. They will take on colour quite quickly, so have a pairof togs handy to flip them around as needed.Finally, add the chilli and fennel stalks and keep a close eye on them because they cook quickly, in about 5-10 minutes, and can quite easily disappear and become part of the charcoal bed.
Once all the vegetables have a good bit of softness to them and are charred all over, remove and give them a light dusting. Put them on a metal baking tray and cover withcling film, leaving them to rest for 30 mins.
Wrap the tortillas in foil and put them near the coals to warm through.
When the meat is ready, take it off the heat and dust off any clinging embers. Wrap it in foil and leave to rest for 15 minutes.
Once the vegetables have rested, deseed the peppers (and chilli if you want your salsa to
be less spicy), peel the onions and squeeze
the garlic out of their skins. Chop all the vegetables and put them in a bowl and squeeze in the lime juice. Add the oil and season with salt and pepper.
Dress the slaw with the lime juice mixture, toss well and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Slice the haunch and let everyone build their own tacos, adding the slaw and salsa.
More of Nick's recipes can be found in out latest cook book -
THE FORGED KITCHEN
or head to www.huntergathercook.com for more info