Slow cooking with a fire pit

Slow cooking with a fire pit

Posted 28th Oct 2016

Earlier in the week we looked at the history of fire pit cooking and how you could make your own - to round off, chef Valentine Warner has devised some delicious slow cook recipes for you to try, courtesy of Leffe

Camomile and Honey Junket with Fresh Strawberries

You will need:

1 punnet of strawberries (leaves and core removed), fruits then divided in 6 lengthways
2 tbs caster sugar
zest of 1 lemon
2 pints of full fat milk
100ml double cream
6 tbs of honey
3 chamomile tea bags
1 lemon verbena tea bag
22 drops of Vegeren (vegetarian rennet), measured out
6 leaves of wood sorrel


1. Put the strawberries in a bowl and scatter with sugar.

2. Add the lemon zest and stir together leaving to macerate.

3. Pour the milk into a large pan, add the teabags and honey then stir together.

4. Put over a low heat and bring to 35C and no hotter.

5. Before removing the teabags press them against the side of the pan to extract as much flavour as possible.

6. Pour the milk into a pudding basin or preferred dish and stir in the rennet.

7. Leave to stand in a warm place where it will set over the next hour, taking care not to jiggle or move it.

8. The pudding can be lightly chilled once set, but again move it carefully.

To serve:

- Garnish with wood sorrel if available
- Enjoy the milk pudding with the strawberries


Curried Lamb in the Pit

You will need:

500g fresh ginger
10 heads fresh garlic
1 small jar of Dijon mustard
2 jars of fennel seeds
1 jar cumin seeds
2 nutmegs
1 jar coriander seeds
1 jar mild chilli powder
1jar ground cinnamon
Vegetable oil
Rapeseed oil
1 jar star anise
1 jar ground turmeric
Fresh curry leaves
1 jar cardamom seeds
2 whole nutmegs
2 medium red onions
1 bottle good red wine vinegar


1. In a bowl combine the yoghurt with the grated ginger, garlic and onions and put to one side.

2. In a spice grinder blend all the spices, seeds, leaves and salt together until very fine.

3. Stir into the yoghurt mixture, followed by the lemon juice.

4. Lay the lamb on your preparation space and score very lightly in a closely spaced criss cross pattern through the fat and skin.

5. On the leg and shoulder make four deeper cuts in a row, an inch or so into the meat.

6. Rub the marinade all over the lamb taking care and time to really massage it in. Leave in a cool shaded place covered for 2-3 hours.

7. Retain a little of the marinade to smear over any parts of the lamb that appear to be cooking too quickly during its time in the pit.

8. Make a long triple layered sheet of tinfoil (the length of the lamb) and place it on the grill rack in the fire pit. This will stop the fat dripping and flaring in the initial stages of cooking.

9. Only lower the lamb onto the grill when all the wood and charcoal is white and glowing with no traces of black or flame.

10. Cover and cook for 2 – 3 hours and fifteen minutes, turning every half hour or otherwise as needed.

11. When the lamb is nearly cooked remove the foil from under the lamb and continue to cook, turning once, in order to achieve good colouring and crispy bits.

12. Place on a large board or prepared table area and carve.

13. The lamb should be ever so faintly pink in the thicker areas of the meat such as the hind leg and loin.

Braised Lamb's Hearts with Leffe Brune and Smoked Paprika

You will need:

1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 tbs olive oil
5 lambs hearts, halved and thinly sliced
1 large white onion, finely diced
4 cloves
6 whole black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
4 cloves of good hard garlic, finely minced
200ml Leffe Brune
300ml water
1 large vine tomato quartered
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tbs sherry vinegar
1/2 tsp flaked sea salt
2 tbs finely chopped fresh parsley



1. In a casserole dish toast the coriander and cumin seeds over a medium heat until their smell comes to the nose, swirl often to avoid them burning.

2. Pour in the olive oil and fry the sliced lambs hearts, until nicely browned.

3. Add the onion, bay leaves, cloves and peppercorns and cook until golden and soft for 8 – 12 minutes, while stirring often.

4. Add the garlic only when the onions are tender and continue to cook for a further 2 minutes or so, stirring often.

5. Scatter in the smoked paprika and stir.

6. Add the Leffe and bring to a simmer.

7. Pour in the water and bring to a simmer again.

8. Add the quartered tomato then put a lid on the casserole dish.

9. Take to the fire pit and place the dish in the ashes where the heat will allow the contents of the pot to simmer but not rage.

10. Cook for 2 – 3 hours until the hearts are tender.

11. It’s prudent to check once or twice that the liquid has not simmered away.

12. The end result should be that the sauce is rich and thickish, not watery or overly thick and scalded.

13. Pour in the vinegar and add the salt to finish and allow to cook for a further ten minutes or so.

14. Scatter with parsley and serve with bread to accompany the meat.

Artichoke, Goat's Curd & Truffle Pizza

You will need:

20g fresh yeast
550g warm water
1kg good strong white flour
1 tsp flaked sea salt
1 large white onion
1 tbs olive oil
2 handfuls of semolina flour
9 good quality chargrilled artichoke in oil, drained and sliced thinly lengthways
1kg windrush or other soft rindgless fresh goats cheese
2 small fresh British summer truffles
50g aged Berwick Edge cheese or Lincolshire Poacher


1. When cooking pizzas it is key to get a good load of fuel burning up at one end of the pit. To do this place a sizable piece of york stone or another paving slab at the end nearest to the fire area.

2. When the temperature reaches about 400 - 450 degrees centigrade the pit will be fit for cooking the pizzas. Remember to have a spade or shovel to hand, as well as an oven glove, to avoid burning yourself when moving the pizzas in and out of the pit.

3. While the pit reaches the desired temperature make the dough.

4. Place the luke warm water in a large bowl and dissolve the yeast into it.

5. Sift in half the flour and use a wooden spoon to turn it into the water.

6. Add the rest of the flour in two more amounts, and include the salt in the last one.

7. Continue to turn the mixture around the bowl until the mixture is a smooth dough.

8. Flour a board and your hands before turning the dough out onto the board.

9. Knead for four minutes or so until the dough takes on an elastic, stretchy and springy feel.

10. Fashion it into a ball and place it in a fresh bowl dusted with flour. Scatter a little extra flour over the top of the dough.

11. Place a small cloth over the top of the bowl and leave to rise for an hour and a half.

12. Cook the onion with a little olive oil until tender, for eight minutes or so and leave to cool.

13. When the pizzas are ready to be cooked, turn the dough back out onto the board and knock it back, kneading the air out of it for a minute or so.

14. Divide the dough before scattering the work surface with the semolina flour rolling out three or four pizzas or pressing them out into appropriate sized oven trays rubbed with a little oil.

15. Leave the bases for 15 minutes or so but no longer.

16. Divide the onions over the pizzas and then place the artichokes here and there. Scatter with a little salt.

17. Bake the pizzas for 3- 4 minutes or until crisped and browned around the edges.

18. Dot with small pieces of the goats curds and enjoy.

Pommes Boulanger (Accompanies lamb)

You will need:

2 tbs olive oil
3 white onions, peeled (skins for stock) and finely sliced
leaves from 5 sprigs of thyme (reserve stalks for stock)
1 tbs white wine vinegar
125g butter
1.5kg waxy potatoes
flaked sea salt and black pepper

For the stock:

1 fresh chicken carcass (or leftovers from a roast)
a good splash of oil or a little butter
750ml cold water
flaked sea salt


1. First make the stock (unless you have some around – you just need a small quantity). If using the carcass from a roasted chicken, ideally use one that has not been stuffed with lemon, as this makes for a faintly bitter and unpleasant stock. Chop up the chicken carcass and fry the pieces in the oil or butter in your stockpot until nicely coloured and golden.

2. Put the stripped stalks from the thyme along with the skins and trimmings from the onions you will use for the potatoes; in the pot with the water. Bring up to the gentlest simmer and cook it like this, with the lid off, for an hour. When the time is up, skim off any fat that has risen to the top and add enough salt to make the stock very tasty in its own right.

3. Preheat the oven to 190°C fan/210°C/Gas 61Ž2. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onions and thyme leaves and cook gently until the onions are totally soft but not coloured. This should take about 20 minutes. Just before turning off the heat, splash the onions with the vinegar and keep cooking until it has totally evaporated. Next grease a baking dish with 25g of the butter.

4. Peel the potatoes and slice them lengthways to the thickness of a £1 coin. Place a layer of potatoes, slightly overlapping, across the bottom of the greased dish. Take a third of the onions and drape them evenly over the potatoes. Dot here and there with a third of the remaining butter and sprinkle over generously with salt and a proper bombardment of black pepper. Now add another layer of potatoes, more onions and more butter. Do this until everything has been used up.

5. Pour 500ml of the chicken stock over the potatoes. Cover the dish with foil and bake it for 40 minutes. After this time, remove the foil and leave the dish in the oven for a further 20 minutes until the top takes on some rich golden colouring. Remove from the oven and eat with something like a good steak and an honest bottle of red wine.

Leftovers can simply be heated up in the oven and covered.

Tomato and Fennel Salad (To accompany Lamb)

You will need:

2 tsp fennel seeds
4 medium sized vine or interesting heirloom tomatoes per person
3 x 25g bunches coriander, washed drained, patted dry and very very finely chopped
2 tbs walnut oil
2 tbs pomace olive oil
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tbs dijon mustard
1.5 tbs baby capers, rinsed and thoroughly drained
1 small jar of Dijon mustard
Flaked sea salt


1. In a small frying pan dry fry the seeds over a medium heat swirling them often until their fragrant smell comes to the nose.

2. Tip onto a plate and put to one side.

3. Roughly chop the tomatoes and place them in a wooden bowl.

4. In a separate bowl mix the coriander with the mustard and capers.

5. Add the oils and stir together well.

6. Add enough vinegar to give an edge to the dressing taking care it is not too sharp.

7. Season with salt.

8. Mix the dressing and seeds through the tomatoes adding any extra seasoning if necessary.

Recipes courtesy of Leffe

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