Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Pork & Paprika Over an Open Fire


Inspired by a gloriously hot weekend in the Cotswolds, this is heart warming, slow cooked camp food at its best. I served this with garlic potatoes cooked in foil over the embers.

The promise of endless sunshine was too hard to resist so we took Roxy, our beloved 1971 VW Dormobile, for a spur of the moment weekend at the camp site at Folly Farm in Gloucestershire, about 20 miles from where we live.

I raided the freezer for some pork shoulder I knew I had, then discovered an unopened spice jar of paprika in the pantry and only had to top up with the remaining ingredients on the day. This was also an opportunity to test our newly aquired X-Grill folding portable barbeque.

INGREDIENTS (4 big serves):

- 1.2kg pork shoulder off the bone
- 2 medium onions, finely chopped
- 2 large capsicums, finely chopped
- 1 large tomato roughly chopped
- 4-5 cloves of garlic, crushed
- 1 small bottle of lager (or stock)
- 20g (4 heaped teaspoons) paprika
- Olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste


First, cut the pork into large (5cm) chunks and mix in a bowl with a dash of olive oil and half of the paprika to marinate. Then prepare the onions, garlic, tomato and capsicums so everything is ready for when the fire is on.

Prepare a charcoal cooking fire suitable for a paella dish or flame proof pot, and once mature, sear the marinated pork while the heat is high in a dash of olive oil, then take it out and wrap it in foil. Add some more olive oil (I used the rind of the pork for the fat) and cook the onions until soft. Then add the capsicum, garlic and lager (or stock) and simmer it down for a while before returning the pork to the pan. Stir in the remainder of the paprika, cover in foil (or a lid if you have one) and keep an eye on it for a couple of hours until the pork is meltingly tender and the sauce nice and thick.

You may have to add a bit of water, beer or stock from time to time depending on how hot your fire is. The good thing about a charcoal fire is that it starts off hot, and then subsides steadily to give a constantly reducing cooking temperature.

I made a few customisations to the new X-Grill for this one. I kept one end open so I could easily access the fire, and kept the fire to the other end so I could move the pan along if the fire was too hot. This worked a treat and I was well impressed as to how versatile this new piece of cooking kit actually was. For half the price of a 'Go Anywhere Weber' the X-Grill won't last a lifetime (one summer if you are lucky) but it is a very practical and versatile open fire cooker. It also makes a great fire pit once the meal is done and the sun has set.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Garden Spit Roast - Chapter 4

This is a bit like putting a normal sized kebab on a photocopier and making it ten times the size. This experiment is actually the precursor for the giant goat kebab fantasy that I am promising myself will happen this summer.


- 1.9kg leg of lamb, boned and cut into about 6 fist sized chunks.
- 1 red onion cut in half
- 2-3 mixed peppers cut in half and de-seeded
- 1 tablespoon of freshly ground cumin
- 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 handful of fresh coriander leaves
- 1 teaspoon of salt


Mix the lamb, olive oil, ground cumin, and coriander leaves in a bowl and cover for a few hours to marinate. Prepare the charcoal fire and let it mature whilst the giant kebab is being assembled. Good lumpwood charcoal is best, and keep the coals to the sides, not beneath the food.

On a 60cm spit, alternate chunks of lamb, onion and peppers and pack them tightly together. Season the surface of the lamb with salt. Start cooking the kebab when the charcoal is at its hottest, then let the embers burn down a bit, only adding small amounts of fuel every 30 minutes or so.

To get meltingly tender lamb, you need to let it cook slowly for 2-3 hours over coals that are just hot enough to create a very gentle sizzle on the surface of the meat.

This one of course was done on my trusty battery powered rotisserie which has featured since Garden Spit Roast - Chapter 2 (and still running on the same two batteries I have to add), but with proper dedication, it could have been done by hand in the same way many Italians cook capretto (roasted baby goat or kid) beside an open fire.

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