Our wood-fired oven recipes – the year after our cookery course!
This time last year, my parents were considering getting a wood-fired (pizza) oven. My dad has never cooked anything before (literally, less than 5 meals in a 25year marriage…) but he saw this as his new lease of life…he was going to give it a go.
To be sure, we all went on a wood-fired cookery course at Manna from Devon; me, the fiancé, mum and dad. And what fun it was!
We made some beautiful meals on the day of the course, most notably a flash fried squid, sumac and orange marinated spatchcocked chicken (I still do this now, whenever I can) and roast veg, not to mention wonderful pizza, small pitta-style flatbreads and a cake for pudding. One of my favourites was a mediterranean roast veg dish (mostly peppers and onions, I think) which we then laid pollack fillets on top of, and finally drizzled with freshly made pesto. Heaven! What fun we had on the course! We learnt that wood-fired oven recipes amounted to so much more than the (undeniably delicious) pizza…
Who’d have thought that, one year on, we are a family who have an outside pizza area? We came away from our cookery course enthused with the ideas we’d learnt, and keen to get a wood-fired oven ASAP! I’m so happy my parents did, because I’ve enjoyed using it so much. It gives me and my dad space to cook together, away from my mum’s domain, the kitchen. It’s ashy, dirty and firey – all perfect for an afternoon of cookery, beer in hand!
My dad’s health is not great; he’s been off work for months now. But in a way, he has had a new start. He’s found a skill as a prodigious bread maker, and learns every time we fire up the oven! I think it’s such an awesome implement that I use every opportunity I can to get cooking in this beauty! Look how amazed I am at my cast iron skillet full of lamb, and roast lovelies (courgette, onion and peppers):
Over the last month or so we’ve done some great Sunday meals, such as a lamb leg. This one went so far – sorry, I only thought to take a photo once the ravenous wolves had mostly munched it down!
It was beautiful – I twisted my knife into the lovely lamb and shoved in a pancetta, onion, rosemary and garlic mix, which moved through the meat as it cooked. I also used this green and verdant season to the full, making a green sauce for the lamb out of wild garlic (ramsons), jack-by-the-hedge (a sort of wild mustard) and some mint leaves from our garden, whizzed up with some olive oil, pepper and lemon juice. Yum!
Anyone can cook over flame. It takes some practice, but it allows you such a connection with the cookery process – I can’t recommend it more! Wood fired ovens are not only for pizzas – the temperatures they can soar to make them perfect for the thin, crisp dough of a napolitan pizza, but as those temperatures begin to fall you can fry, roast, bake and make stock in the heat – you can even leave your stock, or meringues, in there over night – the temperature the next morning is normally somewhere between 40 and 60C. This is the stock, with the lamby oils and garlic, alongside lots of garden herbs, ready to be pushed into the wood-fired oven:
So here we go. Sunday lunch from the pizza oven. We had leg of lamb with garlicky butterbeans and roast veg (courgettem red, yellow and green peppers and red onions) and a wild garlic and jack-by-hedge green sauce. Happy Sundays for all! Long live the pizza oven, and everybody gathering around with family, on a Sunday, to make the most of what we have! x