An insanely good little chef’s perk to knock up while you are getting the oven hot for a cooking session or when you have a gap between cooking other dishes, making cheese toasties in your wood oven couldn’t be easier. In this version, I’ve spiced it up, as is often my way, with some punchy aubergine pickle, but you can take this idea any way you like. The trick to perfection is buttering the outside of the bread so that it crisps up beautifully.
Wood-Fired Oven Temperature: 280-300°C
a couple of slices of your favourite bread, cut to about 1cm thick
soft butter, to spread over the bread
about 75g mature Cheddar, grated
1 spring onion, finely chopped
a little chopped fresh coriander
a tsp or two of brinjal (aubergine) pickle
freshly ground black pepper
Temperature here is not that important, but a few embers pulled from the fire will speed up toasting considerably.
Butter the slices of bread and lay them butter side down on a plate.
Sprinkle the cheese over one slice of bread and scatter the spring onion and coriander on top. A good grind of pepper wouldn’t go amiss either. Spread the brinjal pickle on the other slice, then turn it butter side upwards as you press it onto the cheese topping.
When you are ready to grill your sandwich, use a metal peel to pull a few embers into the centre of the oven. Rest a grill over the embers to heat up for 5-10 minutes. Place the slices on the hot grill rack and slide it into the oven near the fire, toasting for a few minutes until the bread is crisp and the cheese is melting. Turn it over halfway through and rotate it to make sure it’s cooking evenly.
And another thing…
Instead of spiced pickle and coriander:
• Try a few slices of ripe tomato tucked in between the grated cheese.
• Use a dollop of pesto instead of the pickle, or use traditional autumn apple and tomato chutney instead of the Indian flavours.
• Or try a smear of mustard: English, Dijon or wholegrain.
• Brie, Gruyère, smoked Cheddar, some sort of blue cheese are all good cheese swaps.
Extracted from The Ultimate Wood-Fired Oven Cookbook by Genevieve Taylor (Quadrille, approx €17). Photography © Jason Ingram.
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