Many hands make light work

Many hands make light work

There is nothing better than getting together to put a meal together.

‘Fired wood Oven Cooking’ has over 100 simple recipes and top skills to master the wood fired feast. Anyone with an outside space, from a city centre balcony to a leafy green country garden, can pick up and outdoor oven and start cooking.

‘Fired wood Oven Cooking’ is a great book written by Jon Finch and Ben Merrington – from a first time user, to the most adventurous wood-fired cook. It will teach you how to amp up your Sunday roast, one pot stews, breads and desserts and much more.

Let’s Get together and Cook!

Pizza day, so put them to work

The dough stretcher:

This person is responsible for making sure the dough balls are brought out in a timely manner, stretching them out and getting them ready for the topper to get to work.

The fire monitor:

A great job for that friend who loves burning stu_! The main responsibilities here are regular oven temperature checks and the addition of logs, as and when required. My friend George chooses to ignore the laser thermometer and just stick his hand in the oven to gauge the heat. The sooner his hand hurts, the hotter the fire.

The topper:

There are two approaches here. Either have one person responsible for topping everyone’s pizza for them – shout out your order and the topper will make it for you. Or set up an area where everyone can create their own pizza with the help and guidance of the topper when required.

The cook:

This job is all about sliding the finished pizza into the oven, watching it, turning it and sliding it back out. One for someone that likes staring at fire all afternoon.

The slicer:

The cook should transfer the pizza onto the chopping board, where the slicer slices it up and distributes it to the crowd. While they have very little to do with the actual pizza-making process, they tend to take all the glory for the good ones.

The beer bringer:

With everyone so hard at work it’s very important to have the beers brought to the team members on a regular basis. A critical role.

As with all well-oiled machines, getting a good crew together is a great way to cook for a big crowd. Ideally, as soon as one pizza comes out the oven, the next is ready to go in, meaning that you can quite easily knock out 30 pizzas per hour from just one small pizza oven.

Huevos rancheros

A splash of oil

½ white onion, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

2 tsp taco seasoning (see page 12 of the book)

1 tbsp tomato purée

2 x 400g cans chopped

Tomatoes or 1 litre passata

4 large free-range eggs

Small bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

Small handful of crumbled feta cheese

1 jalapeño chilli, finely sliced

8 tortillas, wrapped in foil and warmed in the oven for 5–10 minutes

Method:

Add the oil, onion and garlic to a frying pan and fry gently. Don’t let the garlic brown or it will go bitter.

Stir in the taco seasoning and tomato purée and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for about 15 minutes, stirring every now and then.

Using the back of a dessert spoon, make four wells in the sauce and carefully crack an egg into each.

Slide back into the oven for another 4–5 minutes until the eggs are cooked but the yolks remain runny.

Sprinkle with the coriander, feta and chilli. Serve with the warmed tortillas.

A hearty, nutritious traditional Mexican breakfast that works beautifully in a wood oven.

Fast and easy to prepare, it’s a good one to make use of the oven if you are firing it up for lunch that day. I’ve eaten this dish a number of ways, the traditional way being with flash-fried corn tortillas as a base topped with fried eggs and a thick spicy salsa. Delicious.

The less traditional but equally tasty way is to cook up a dish of sauce and cook the eggs directly in it. I prefer the latter. Plus it is better suited to wood ovens.

Serves 4

Top tip: Once you have warmed the tortillas, keep them in the foil and wrap the whole lot in a tea towel or place inside a small cool box to keep nice and warm until you are ready to serve.