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Another wintry barbecue. Hoorah! There’s no reason not to cook outside just because it’s a damp and dreary November night. If we can stand around a bonfire with sparklers, then it’s just as fun standing round a barbecue listening to the sizzling meat of a heavily spiced spatchcock pheasant. I also paraffined up some ‘Swedish Log Fires’ to try and see better (or actually just to set fire to more stuff). Swedish log fires are great. All they are are logs, that you cut a cross into with a chainsaw, then start a fire in the middle, and they burn like an enormous candle. Apparently they’re good for cooking on too as you can just place a pan on top.

SONY DSC

Anyway, back to the dinner. We had a pheasant. We had potatoes and leek from the allotment. We also had the desire for something hot and smoky, so rather than go down the classic French routewe thought we’d spice this bird up rather like Siobhann had some months before with her poussin. Jamie took a quick lesson in spatchcocking, and I lit the fires. Hoorah!

The fattoush happened towards the end of the planning stage as we realised that although it was a damp November night, we needed something zesty and fresh to counter-balance the smokeyness. A fattoush is a Lebanese salad, often consisting of strips of cucumber, stale flatbread, olives, coriander and tomatoes. It’s often sprinkled with sumac or za’atar, but we were all out. That’s what happens when you move to the country.

So, having googled spatchcocking (you basically turn the bird onto the breasts and remove the backbone, butterflying the bird and then stick some water soaked kebab sticks diagonally through it to hold the shape); the bird was prepared. The marinade was harissa, and as we didn’t have enough solely red chillies, we used both red and green. Again there appears to be many versions of harissa, and you can also buy it ready-made. It’s basically chilli, garlic and caraway seeds. We used:

Harissa

5 fresh chillies

1 tsp caraway seeds

1 tsp paprika

2 garlic cloves

Good pinch of salt

Handful of coriander, chopped

50ml olive oil

You then smear it all over the bird and marinade for at least 6 hours or even overnight. When it comes to the barbecuing, just cook and wait ‘til you can’t wait any longer before you devour it there and then. I.e. you want it to be blackened and the limbs to be falling off.

Fattoush (or our version given the ingredients at hand)

½ cucumber sliced lengthways, discarding overly seedy bits

Handful of green olives, sliced

8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

Few baby rocket and lettuce leaves

Handful of coriander, roughly chopped

Handful of parsley, roughly chopped

1 pitta, sliced in half lengthways, brushed with melted butter on both sides, baked in medium heated oven until crisp

The Dressing

1 clove of garlic, smashed up with pinch of salt

Few good glugs of olive oil

Juice of half a lemon

Throw into a bowl, and toss.

The Potatoes

4 largeish potatoes, cubed and par-boiled

1 leek, chopped

3 rashers of smoky bacon, finely chopped

5 or 6 cloves of garlic

Sprinkling of paprika and cayenne

Get roasting pan hot (190c), and throw in the above. Toss every twenty minutes or so. Cook until golden (just less than an hour).

To Serve:

Some good dollops of greek yoghurt.

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