When it comes to grilling and cooking outside, it's fair to say that a lot of attention goes into the sourcing of meat and ingredients beforehand, and perhaps not so much on the fuel itself.
Just by uttering that, no doubt many readers of this blog will be howling in discord but given that we import 90,000 tonnes of charcoal into the UK per year, it is a point worth raising - especially which regards to global deforestation and sustainability.
However, and thankfully so, there are a small number of suppliers in the UK that are meeting this head on - by sourcing wood locally and investing back into woodland to ensure proper management and by using traditional methods of production to make charcoal.
Martin Keane of Woodsmith is one such supplier and we have a deeper connection with this young man, as he spent 3 years (on and off) working behind the counter at EC1 , in an effort to bolster his cutting skills and to explore whole carcass butchery.
Since relocating to Somerset over a year ago now and forming his new business, Martin has been tinkering away with a whole host of different woods and cooking methods, with a view to using to them to flavour a variety of food over fire and smoke - ranging from oysters to pineapple.
In the recipe that follows, he takes on a mighty piece of rump cap, using one of his favourite woods to cook with (which we are selling over at EC1):
'When cooking over wood or charcoal, a common mistake is to think that you need a roaring fire with flames lapping up and touching the food. It certainly looks impressive in pictures but most of the time it just leads to food burnt on the outside and not cooked through.
So I am going to show you how you can slowly roast a beef rump cap over an open fire to medium rare.
When you cook with fire something magical happens to your food. The smoke brings out unique flavours no amount of technology or trickery can replicate. For this recipe we are using Applewood, which is one of the best woods you can cook with.
It gives you a good heat but at the same time a nice perfumed smoke.'
- Start by building your fire. If you are using logs then we suggest using the “log cabin” method. You can find a link to this here. If you are using charcoal we would always recommend starting it with a natural firelighter.
- Once you have your fire going you should wait until you have a good bed of embers, which will normally take 20-30 minutes. Remember, you are not looking to cook directly over flames. A general rule of thumb for a medium heat is to be able to hold your hand over the grill for 7-9 seconds before it becomes uncomfortably hot.
- Make sure your rump cap has been out of the fridge for at least an hour to come up to room temperature.
- With a sharp knife make shallow cuts into the fat cap that surrounds the top of the rump. Start one side and then turn it around and go the other way. You are looking to create a diamond pattern.
- At the last minute, season the rump with salt.
- Put the rump fat side up over the embers of the fire. You are looking for this to slowly roast. If you get any flames from the fat dripping onto the embers below move the rump to another part of the grill.
- There are many variables that can affect the cooking time, but you should be looking for a total of about 60 minutes of slow cooking, moving the rump every 10 minutes.
- During this time you will need to feed the fire with either more logs or charcoal. Make sure you don’t sit the rump directly above the part of the fire you are doing this in.
- For the last 10 minutes of cooking turn the rump fat side down. At this point you can have a slightly higher heat to crisp up the fat.
- If you have a meat thermometer you are looking for an internal temperature of 55°C. Once the rump is cooked leave it to rest for 10-15 minutes whilst you prepare the chimichurri.
- To make the chimichurri, mix together all of the ingredients listed above. Adding the oil and vinegar last.
- To serve, slice the rump against the grain and spoon over the chimichurri.
- We like to serve the rump with some Jersey Royals and courgettes cooked over the fire.