The Outdoor KitchenThe Outdoor Kitchen The Outdoor KitchenCooking outside on a kotlich

Outdoor Cooking in Winter

The kotlich is double dipped enamel with an attractive grey and white easy to clean enamel inside. I never clean the outside and my kotlich lives in a bag ready for any adventure. Cooking with a kotlich is really straight forward and you can be as sophisticated or as simple as you wish.

A few tips to help things run smoothly.                                  marmalade in snow

  • Keep a good supply of wood.

  • Make sure there is some liquid or oil in the kotlich when you hang it over the fire, start slowly. It is easier to build up the fire than damp it down.

  • Use more liquid in a stew than you would normally, the kotlich cooks by reduction. Once it is boiling a meat stew will take about 1hr 20mins to cook, vegetables much less.

  • Keep an eye on your cooking and stir regularly. Don't let it get dry.

  • To clean, refill kotlich with water, hang over the fire for 5-10 mins and wipe clean. Don't use brillo unless you have a burning episode.

It's probably a bit late for jams and jellies but if you have any wind falls or surplus fruit stored in your deep freeze get it out, light a fire and get preserving outside. The kotlich is perfect for jam making not least because you keep all that sticky mess out of the kitchen! Use all your favourite recipes but just do it outside for a change.

Pride of place in October in the vegetable patch are pumpkins and gourds. I grow types with firm, dry and sweet flesh that are excellent to make soups, pumpkin pie, chutney or just roasted. Each plant has many fruiting bodies maybe 4-5 each! They take up a lot of room but can be trained and tied up or maybe simpler, just planted in a big space and left alone.

Pumpkins Soup. This as a creamy smoky tasting soup, most suitable for chilly days outside.

2oz butter to start with

6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon finely chopped

2lbs pumpkin cut into chunks

3 medium potatoes cut into chunks

3 large tomatoes de skinned

2pts/1lt water or more

s and p

a little milk if necessary

3 large Tbs of double cream to finish with chopped fresh herbs

The quantities can be doubled, always make sure the potatoes and pumpkin are well covered with liquid.

Fry the finely chopped bacon in the butter gently, throw in the chopped pumpkin, potatoes and skinned tomatoes, (tinned tomatoes can be used instead), cover with the liquid, boil till well done, wiz up, put over the fire again to reheat, add milk if necessary and finally the cream. Serve piping hot with herbs and fresh bread.

A delicious alternative is to leave out the bacon and instead fry up onions and curry spices. Sprinkle with coriander before serving.

There are many locals supplying welsh lamb near us, nothing can beat it. At this time of the year we want to make the most of what is in the vegetable plot, mostly onions, roots, brassica and squash. So here is a recipe for Welsh Lamb Hotpot with dumplings using seasonal vegetables.

Lamb Hotpot  For an 8lt kotlich roughly

garlic

2 onion

1 swede/gourd

2-3 carrots

2 leeks/celery stalks/cabbage/chunks of marrow

400g chopped lamb

Stock, and maybe beer or cider to fill Kotlich

Tinned tomatoes, optional

2 Tbs sweet paprika

chili to taste

Sour cream and chopped mixed herbs to garnish

The simplest way to cook a hot pot is to just put everything in together, vegetables and meat should come half way up the kotlich, and cover with your liquid. The potatoes will let out starch and thicken the stew. Add your 2 Tbsp of sweet paprika 10 minutes before serving. That way the hot pot will be a lovely red colour. Season with salt and pepper and chili if you like it peppery. Serve with sour cream stirred into each serving and sprinkle with fresh chopped herbs.

The dumpling recipe is 2:1 SR flour to suet, s & p, herbs and water to mix. Last time I mixed chilli into my dumpling mixture to great effect. They should be added to the pot about 45 minutes before the end.

I have tried something new and very sweet in the kotlich, great to make for presents one warm autumnal day, fudge. It is quite pains taking and you need to manage the fire well to prevent burning. But I was able to do quite a large amount in a much shorter time than I would have inside on the cooker. It was amazing how little clearing up I had to do afterwards.

Fudge recipe

2lbs brown sugar

1/2pt milk

1/4lb butter

optional, 3Tbs powdered chocolate

Vanilla essence

  • Soak sugar in the milk for an hour.

  • Melt sugar in milk over fire slowly.

  • Add butter and bring to the boil, stir regularly and twizzle kotlich to prevent burning. Adjust height,

  • Boil for 10-15 mins to reach “boiling point”, try not to splash mixture up the sides of the pot.

  • The sides will start to crystallize and the centre will sink, test by dropping into a bowl of cold water. It should form a soft ball when you handle it.

  • When ready take off the fire and leave to stand for a few minutes.

  • Add 2 drops of vanilla ess. And beat with a wooden spoon or hand whisk. Mixture will become creamy and start to set.

  • Quickly pour into a buttered tin and leave to cool. It does not need the fridge.

  • In 2hrs it will be set and you can cut into squares. It will keep several weeks in a sealed jam jar. Ours usually gets eaten or given away within the week.

There are many opportunities to celebrate outside in autumn and winter. We all love Harvest Festival, and children enjoy Bonfire night in fact they love any chance to go outside after dark, look at the stars and hear the noises of the night. Don't forget Christmas day and Boxing day. So here is a Chai recipe which is great for an outdoor, evening winter event with friends. I drank it first at a small festival in Devon and fell for it. It may be easier just to make mulled wine or cider but this is a little different and the children can drink it to. There are loads of chai recipes on the internet and they all include a mixture of the same ingredients in differing amounts. Very much adapt to taste.

Chai,Tea of your choice, Cardamon pods, crushed a bit before adding, Cloves, Cinnamon stick, Sliced fresh root ginger, Black pepper corns, Bay leaves, Vanilla bean cut up, Nutmeg. Kotlich ¾ full of water. Honey or brown sugar to taste.

Try mixing a small amount first with a little of each spice in your favourite tea, in a small pan. When you decide which flavour you like predominantly then reproduce it in your kotlich for greater numbers. Vanilla is very expensive so you might decide to leave that out!.

Simmer for at least 15 mins then raise the kotlich so it is just keeping warm and serve. But I'm sure it does not matter if it simmers on for a little longer.

Marmalade

We will always remember our first year in Herefordshire as the year of the big snow, when we made our marmalade outside. I did chop and prepare the Seville oranges inside and sterilised the jars in my oven but apart from that we sat in the sun stirring the marmalade waiting for setting point to be reached in our thickest winter woollies drinking coffee and feeling exhilarated. Choose any of your favourite marmalade recipes but for a change add some chopped fresh root ginger or some grapefruit skins.

Cooking outside regularly throughout the winter might be a challenge for some of us. But if you choose simple things to cook, always have a supply of suitable wood and are well organised then you will not only save money by cooking off grid but will give your family a different perspective on life, a sense of resilience and adventure.

Copyright on all content to Trish MacCurrach - Outdoor Kitchen © 2017