Roll back time just a few decades and British cuisine was stuck in the dark ages, a nightmare of squishy, overcooked vegetables and tough meat. Eating alfresco was something we only did on holiday, and the barbecue scene was in its infancy. Now things couldn’t be more different. These days many Brits are budding master chefs, obsessed with cooking and extremely adept at knocking up dishes to die for. We’ve caught up with the Australians with our love of BBQs, alfresco living is something millions of us enjoy every summer and the nation has fallen head over heels with chiminea cooking.
3 simple chiminea recipes for summer
Bearing all this in mind, here are some wonderful, quick and easy recipes for you to test-drive in your chiminea, a top piece of outdoor entertainment kit that keeps you warm and snug as well as delivering wonderful food with that unmistakeable ‘cooked outdoors’ flavour. Here are three tasty chiminea recipes for a searing hot summer… we hope!
Scrumptious outdoor-cooked pizza
Pizza is one of the most popular foods to cook on a chiminea, which is why we sell so many pizza stones. If you’re using a pizza stone, remember they’re not designed for direct heat. Let the flames die down first, then fix the stone inside and pre-heat it for quarter of an hour so it’s piping hot for a lovely, crispy pizza base. You can line the stone’s surface with foil if you like, to stop it sticking. Your pizza should only take a few minutes to cook.
Once the base has gone a lovely brown at the edges, and the topping is bubbling, you’re ready to rock ‘n’ roll. Bear in mind too much topping makes a pizza top-heavy and it can end up with a soggy base whether you bake it in an oven indoors or a chiminea. Remember veg and spuds take longer to cook than pizza, so set them off well beforehand.
Baked spuds, a great British favourite
You can’t go far wrong with a tasty, fluffy baked spud. It’s such a popular dish that Guy Fawkes has been named the unofficial patron saint of baked potatoes. And they’re so easy to cook in your chim, as well a pretty difficult to burn! Special baking potatoes are your best bet because they turn out lovely and fluffy. Go for Maris Pipers or King Edwards.
Wash the spuds and sprinkle them with sea salt. Don’t oil them, it can make the skin soggy instead of crispy. To avoid blackened skin, which tastes nasty, wrap your spud in tinfoil. In a regular indoor oven they take around an hour at 190C but every chiminea is different.
Set a fire first and let it heat up. Pop the foil-wrapped spud on the embers. Extract it after 30 minutes using tongs for safety, and examine it to check whether it’s done. If not pop it back for another ten, then repeat as necessary. A chunk of real salty butter finishes things off to perfection or there’s a wealth of toppings to choose from, including these popular big hitters:
- Baked beans
- Tuna and mayo
- Tuna and sweetcorn
- Melted cheese
- Chilli con carne
- Coronation chicken
- Cheese and ham
- Blue cheese and leek
- Smoked fish and cream cheese
Baking bread in your chim
The ancient Mayans did it. So do Mexican people. A chim is great for baking tasty bread, and that just-baked flavour is very hard to beat. Flatbreads are the simplest, without yeast, and the chiminea’s conical chimney and bulbous body make it an excellent oven.
Once the fire is at medium heat and not throwing out actual flames, place your chim grill on the coals. Then put a few unglazed fire tiles on top of the grill, available from hardware shops. When they heat up, they create the perfect oven, particularly good for baking things like naan bread and focaccia. Lots of heat in a small space means the bread cooks in no time. Just keep a regular eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn.
Top chiminea cooking tips
If you can cook it in an oven you can almost always cook it in a chiminea. So how, exactly, do you prepare for a chiminea cook-fest?
- There are two ways to cook on a chimenea, inside and on the top, using a special grill that fits on the chimney
- Kick off your fire a good 20 minutes before you want to cook, so it’s hot and ready when you are
- Pre-prepare your food so you can pop it in as soon as the temperature is right
- It helps, when cooking meat in a chiminea, to make sure the slices are roughly the same thickness, so they’re all ready at the same time and all properly cooked
- The time your food takes to cook depends on the size of your chiminea, the kind of fuel you use and the foods in question. That’s why it’s so important to check regularly. Once you’ve made a dish once, you’ll know the score with your particular chiminea
- Whether you’re using metal sheets, skewers or tinfoil packets, keep similar foods together
- For safety’s sake use tongs to put the food in your chiminea and take it out
- You can either put tinfoil packets of food directly on top of the coals or on a metal sheet or special grill
- You can either put food onto skewers on your grill, or set them above the coals at an angle
- Check your food regularly to avoid burning or over-cooking. Chimineas cook food really fast because there’s heat coming from below and from the immediate surroundings, a bit like a fiercely efficient fan oven
- Bear in mind food wrapped in foil packages take longer to cook than food exposed directly to the fire
If all this sounds good but you don’t have a chim, it’s time to invest in one. We stock loads, and they’re all as good-looking as they are practical. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Visit us today at Chiminea Shop.