Recipes for a Wood Fired Oven
When I started thinking about this article, writes David Jones of Manna From Devon, I had in mind a range of lovely Mezze-style summery snacks for eating whilst watching the Olympics or all the other events in Dartmouth this summer – the J80s, the Squibs, the Tour of Britain Cycle Race as well as all the usual summer events.
With the weather as it is and not looking to improve in the short term, I’m now thinking a warming pot roast would be more appropriate.
I’ve kept in one of our favourite baking course recipes for pitta breads. Now I know you can buy pitta bread in the shops but if you have the inclination to make your own, the results will be nothing like you’ve ever tasted before – in a good way. The shop-bought ones are fine if you are off on a long sea voyage or need a new sole in a hurry but the pittas you make yourself are fluffy, light, soft and so good you’ll want to make them again. We make them in our wood fired oven when the heat is around 300C but a regular oven is fine at its highest temperature.
Remember to have a basket lined with clean tea towels handy so you can cover the breads as soon as they come out of the oven to keep them soft.
Makes 12 x 20cm
• 500g strong white bread flour
• 1 level tsp salt
• 300ml warm water
• 30ml plain yoghurt
• 7g dried yeast
1. Sift the flour and the salt together into a large bowl. Stir the yeast into the water and yoghurt and pour this liquid into the flour. Stir together to make a very soft dough. Knead the dough on a clean surface until smooth and leave it to rise in a clean bowl covered with clingfilm for at least an hour until doubled in size in a warm place.
2. Heat the oven to 240C/Gas 8. Put a large baking sheet in the oven to heat up.
3. Take the dough out of the bowl and cut into 12 equal pieces. Roll each piece into an oval about 12x18cm/5x8’’. Put on a well-floured work surface and cover for 20 minutes to prove.
4. Put 3-4 of the pittas on the baking sheet – remember it’s hot - and keep the others covered so they don’t dry out. They will take about 2-3 minutes to puff up and cook through. Be careful not to overcook the breads as they will become crisp and impossible to split for filling.
5. Wearing some thick oven gloves, take them out of the oven and put them in a basket. Cover them with a clean cloth to prevent the crust going hard.
Now the pittas are ready for filling with salads, hummus, tzatzki, cooked meats, baked fish or falafels and a chilli dressing. That’s if the weather improves.If not, try this fantastic slow-cooked shoulder of lamb – still full of the flavours of summer but with a satisfying warmth.
Slow-cooked shoulder of lamb
• ½ shoulder of lamb, on the bone.
• 1 onion, peeled and sliced
• 1 carrot, peeled and sliced
• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
• 2 red peppers, deseeded, deveined and chopped
• 1 fresh red chilli, deseeded, deveined and finely chopped
• 300ml chicken stock
• 2tbsp balsamic or red wine vinegar
• 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme
• 30g pitted olives – green or black, doesn’t matter
• Salt and pepper
1. Heat the oven to 150C/Gas 3.
2. Put the lamb in a tight-fitting ovenproof dish with a lid.
3. Add all the rest of the ingredients and put the lid on the dish.
4. Put it in the oven and bake for 3 hours until perfectly tender and the meat is falling off the bone.
5. Take the dish out of the oven and cool. Chill in the fridge overnight so the fat solidifies. Take off the fat and discard.
6. Take the meat out of the sauce and take the meat off the bone. Shred into smallish pieces.
7. Discard the sprigs of thyme if you can find them – they might be a bit woody.
8. Liquidise the sauce with a hand blender until semi-smooth ie still with lumps in.
9. Heat gently on the hob and add the meat to heat through.
10. When hot, serve the lamb with some creamy mashed potatoes or couscous or your delicious pitta breads and maybe some wilted spinach or some other greens.
This is perfect spectator food – you can do all the preparation in advance and reheat it when you want to eat whilst watching all the sport on offer.
First Published July 2012 By The Dart