HOW TO GET THE BEST OUT OF YOUR ENGEL FIRE
We hope you get as much enjoyment out of the fire as we do. It has certainly changed the way we cook and entertain.
With the expertise of Michael Van de Elzen, we’ve put together the following information to help you get the ‘ultimate’ out of the many different cooking methods the Engel offers. Once the basics are in place, you’ll discover your own personal ways of preparing and serving the ‘best’ flavours that wood fired cooking can offer.
GETTING YOUR FIRE READY
Before you cook on your Engel, fire it up first. You need to proof the oven and grill. Load it up with some dry wood and do a quick burn with the flue open (flue handle up). Once finished, lightly oil the grill bar with some cooking spray.
ESTABLISHING YOUR FIRE
The choice of fuel used will make for a better fire. Wood, aged for one year is ideal. Manuka/Kanuka, Macrocarpa as well as wood from oak, fruit or nut trees are good burning woods.
Bigger pieces of hard wood are good for long slow cooking while large lump charcoal is great for cooking on the grill. Smaller pieces work well for a hotter oven – perfect for pizzas and focaccia bread.
Here’s some don’ts for your wood
Don’t use mouldy or musty wood, this will release a nasty smell into your food.
Don’t leave too much bark on your wood, it can create a smoke that is bitter and very smoky.
Pine is ideal for starting the fire but because it burns quickly it imparts an acrid flavour and it should never be used for cooking.
Don’t use treated wood for cooking.
Last but not least… don’t overload the fire basket with wood as pieces can fall behind the basket.
COOKING ON THE STONES:
Pizzas & Breads
Always ensure that the fire basket has been cleaned as ash acts as an insulator and will hinder getting your bricks to an optimum heat for pizza cooking.
Light your fire and with the fire basket rolled forward, bring the temperature of the stones up to 300 degrees. Check the heat with the laser probe supplied. When hot enough, push the basket back and load your focaccia, sourdough, tin loaf or pizzas straight onto the stone. Control the temperature by opening and closing the front doors and the flue.
3-5 minutes will give you the ultimate pizza - the hotter the better, this will give the pizza the rise it needs. For thinner breads like focaccia, place it into a well-oiled shallow baking tray on around 220 degrees. Large loaf tins work really well in this temperature also. Try brushing it with a good amount of water and a drizzle of oil.
COOKING ON THE GRILL
Ensure the flames have burnt down to embers before grilling your meat.
Always bring your meat up to room temperature before grilling. Oil the meat and season with flaky sea salt and a good crack of fresh pepper (always oil the meat – not the grill).
Once you have placed the meat onto the grill, leave it until you have some good char marks, this will make it much easier to remove and turn. Rest your meat before cutting. Loosely wrap larger meat cuts with tinfoil for at least 20 minutes while smaller cuts like chops and steaks can rest for up to 10 minutes. Try raising the grill to the top of the oven for cooking food at a lower temperature and for greater smoky flavour. Things like brined chicken work well like this.
COOKING ON THE ROTISSERIE
Establish your fire for around 15-30 minutes. When you are ready to start cooking, push the fire basket to the back. Make sure you have enough fuel for the fire to last around 90-120 minutes. Feed more wood on if necessary.
Skewer your meat and or poultry onto the rotisserie shaft, ensuring that it is central and equally balanced. Secure with the rotisserie forks and tie with cooking string if necessary.
Feed the rotisserie shaft into the holes on the fire from right to left making sure it fits into the rotisserie motor and plug in to a standard 240v power supply.
Hang the drip tray from the shaft to catch the juices and if desired, place vegetables in the tray to cook at the same time with the meat.
Boned out whole lamb works well, its’ easy to fit a whole lamb onto an Engel Master rotisserie.
Using meat rubs on larger cuts of meat gives a wonderful flavour.
COOKING LONG AND SLOW
Place larger pieces of hardwood into the Engel basket and allow it to burn right down to embers so that the fire has established a constant heat. With the fire basket at the front, lower the grill down placing the rubbed meat onto it. Raise the grill to its highest position and close down the flue and the doors, keeping an eye on the temperature. You want it to be around 140 degrees. Depending on the size of the cut this could take up to six hours or until you have an internal meat temperature of 55 degrees. Once cooked, remove the meat, wrap in cling film and rest for a further hour before cutting.
Place the meat into an oven tray. Season it well with a meat rub and pour over some beer until it’s half way up the meat or Mexican chili paste works well too. Cover with greaseproof paper and tin foil, place into the Engel and cook as above. Allow the meat to rest in the juices for an hour before removing. Strain off the floating fat and place the rest of the juices into a pot to reduce until flavoursome. Shred the meat by pulling apart with forks before pouring over the reduced cooking juices.
Place your fish and or meat on a wire rack on the grill and put the grill up to maximum height. Your wood chips need to be damp to ensure they only smoke and there is no flame. Place about two cups of the wood chips on the embers. Close the flue butterfly and doors. Check every 20 minutes and add more chips as required.
This can take up to four hours depending on the thickness of the fish. Pull the meat apart slightly in the thickest part to see how cooked the fish is. Once the centre is just turning white remove from the smoker. If you smoke it any longer it will start to become dry once cold.
Try brining your fish in a salt water brine and then brush with soya, limes, brown sugar and chilli before smoking.
OTHER USEFUL THINGS YOU CAN COOK ON YOUR ENGEL
Try cooking with these foods that will gradually cook whilst the oven is heating up
Peel the garlic and place into a small pot covered in olive oil, rosemary and salt. Cook until tender.
Roasted tomatoes are great for sauces and salads. Cut tomatoes in half and place onto a bed of salt in a roasting tray and cover with herbs like rosemary and thyme. Roast until golden.
ROASTED RED PEPPER
Cover peppers in a touch of oil and salt. Place onto the grill above the burning fire and char until dark. Place peppers into a bowl and cover in cling film for 10 minutes. Rub off skins and remove the seeds.
Cut lemons in half, place onto an oven tray and gently salt. Remove when lightly coloured and let cool. Remove pith and finely dice to add to salads or hummus for extra flavour.
HOT SMOKING BABY POTATOES
Lightly oil and season your baby potatoes before placing onto the grill and raising to the top of the oven.
Foods to Cook While Your Fire Cools
Once you have added your last piece of wood and the Engel is slowly cooling down below 150ºC, give these foods a go.
SLOW COOKING JOINTS OF MEAT
Pork shoulder cooked in apple cider, garlic and herbs works well. Cover and cook at this temperature for about 4-5 hours.
SLOW ROASTING FRUITS
Cut fruits in half and sprinkle with brown sugar. Roast until tender and serve hot with vanilla cream.
DRYING OR DEHYDRATING
Drying or dehydrating works well once the temp drops >100. Try tomatoes, apples and even cut onions. Just place onto a wire rack to ensure airflow all around the items.
ROAST ROOT VEGETABLES
Season, lightly oil and wrap root vegetables in tinfoil. Place into the slow, burning down embers. Cook until a knife can pass through. Reheat the next day or use cold in a wonderful salad with a curry yoghurt dressing.
Another handy tip is ‘preparation is the key to your success’. Ensure you plan your meal ahead. Doing as much as you can before the guests arrive will free you up to entertain and cook around the Engel.