By: Blonde Two
Last summer Mr B2 and I cooked around one meal each week over a wood fire (in the comfort of our back garden). I love the challenge of open fire cooking and developing campfire recipes, it brings everything down to the basics, brings out my nurturing skills (fires need lots of looking after, cannot be hurried (sometimes can’t be slowed down) and can make for a very companionable way to spend the evening. We usually use a few bits of well- aired foraged firewood but this, as well as depriving a few insects of their home, can make for a very unpredictable cooking environment. My favourite cooking achievement last year was spatchcocked chicken, which was delicious slow cooked over charcoal, but really quite horrid cindered over treated wood (I know, a bad idea for so many reasons but you live and learn).
On Wednesday night I decided to reintroduce the outdoor tea sessions and concocted a recipe for vegetable couscous with chicken. All cooked in one marvellous outdoor frying pan (a much-prized possession) and ranging from edible (the chicken) to delicious (the couscous). Here’s the recipe:
Two smallish chicken pieces (I used bone on breast)
One packet of flavoured couscous (you could use plain)
A selection of very finely chopped vegetables (large chunks take to long) – I used onions, butternut squash and cauliflower
Fresh garlic, chilli and ginger
Salt, pepper, Worcestershire Sauce (I put that in everything), chilli oil, olive oil, dried coriander (I didn’t have any fresh)
Plenty of water
Mix everything apart from the chicken together until all of the vegetables are coated (use a bit more oil than you usually would). Put (carefully balance) the pan over the fire and chuck in the vegetable mixture. Stir it around for a while (you may notice here that I am not a very accurate cook) then make room for the chicken pieces where the pan is hottest (this may well change so be prepared to move the chicken). Add the couscous and plenty of water. Keep cooking and adding water until almost all of the food is cooked.
Of course, recipes are not really the secret to open fire cooking, it is the fire itself that is the most important. It is rare to get a fire that doesn’t attempt to go out, let alone one that gives an even heat.
I had the perfect fire on Wednesday and although this fact is partly down to my skills as a pyromaniac, I have to admit that our log box from Ashby Logs played the bigger part in my even, long-burning cooking experience. Containing natural firelighters (just as effective as the nasty smelly kind), kindling and some beautiful, kiln-dried logs, all I needed to add was matches. I would like to mention, at this point, that two matches were sufficient.
From time to time we Blondes are sent free outdoor products to field test and promote on social media. We will always be honest about our findings and any products we don’t keep for ourselves find their way into our expedition stores. Great for us, great for you and great for our youngsters!