Pub In The Park With Charlie Ovens by David from Spice Punch

Pub In The Park With Charlie Ovens by David from Spice Punch

It's Friday 27th May and I'm on my way to Pub In The Park Wimbledon to support Charlie Ovens, a new British company making charcoal & wood fuelled outdoor ovens. These pieces of kit are absolutely fantastic and come in a wide range of eye catching colours (they can also make custom designs if needed). They are made in Nottingham and are constructed of steel and are heavily insulated. They come in at a whopping 230kg which means they have some incredible thermal properties, we had these lit from 10:00 to 22:00 and used just 4kg of charcoal through the day with the ovens running from 110c up to 200+c for the entire day needing just a handful of charcoal throughout the day to maintain the temperatures.

I first saw these ovens on stage at last years Meatopia (2021) being used throughout the day and I thought they looked so different. Rather than being called a BBQ, its labelled as an outdoor oven or an aga for outside, you really can cook anything from super low temperatures 50-60c all the way up to pizza's at 300-400c quite easily.

The premise of the day was that I would come along and cook up a whole load of different dishes to show off what the oven can do and to generate some recipe ideas and interest from the public.

We certainly put the oven through its paces with grilling, smoking, barbecue, direct / indirect cooking throughout the day. I really liked how deep the Charlie is, you can easily fit in a 28 litre gastronorm pan into the oven so they are a lot deeper than you might initially think.

Reverse sear steak crumpetsReverse Seared Steak

Roast Dinner Crumpets

We started off the day with roast dinner crumpets, we toasted a few crumpets on the grill to warm them through then spread on a healthy portion of horseradish sauce.
I reverse seared this beautiful 70 day dry aged ribeye steak that we dry aged at home. We set the grates high into the oven and bought it up to around 47c then allowed it to rest for 10 minutes. We then finished the steak over screaming hot coals to caramelise the natural sugars in the meat and to allow the steak to finish at 57c for a perfect medium rare.
We topped the crumpet with crispy garlic potato cubes, then thin slices of the beef, a little seasoning and topped with peppery rocket. These came out an absolute treat, will absolutely be making these again.
Grilled Prawns

Vietnamese Summer Rolls

Next dish I cooked up was these Vietnamese Summer Rolls, by now the sun was out and it was an absolutely gorgeous day. We used the Charlie to grill some king prawns up then folded them into summer rolls with vermicelli rice noodles, siracha sauce, carrot & spring onion. After wrapping, I drizzled in sweet chilli sauce and coriander to finish. Really refreshing on a hot summers day and nice to see the prawn through the rice paper. Super simple dish to make and something a bit different to cook up on the Charlie.
Spicy Polenta Cake

Savoury Polenta Cake

The next dish I cooked up was this savoury polenta cake, this disappeared so quickly once people started tasting it but I did manage to have a piece myself and it was an absolute winner! A crisp exterior with a soft fluffy interior topped with feta, red onion, candied jalapeno and a good splash of JD's Hot Honey for good measure.
Through the batter is egg, sour creme, cayenne, coriander, toasted sweetcorn and jalapeno's, this was baked at 200c for 40 minutes until a skewer came out clean. We cut this into thin 'cake' size portions and everyone absolutely loved it.
Beef Ramen

Ex-Dairy Beef Short Rib Ramen

The next dish was another cracker! We managed to get hold of some Meat Matters Ex-Dairy beef short rib, we cooked these 'hot and fast' in the Charlie Oven at around 180c in the highest position in the oven. Meat facing towards the coals 3/4 of the way through the cook & then flipped bone towards the coals for the last 1/4 cook time.
The meat was then rested for an hour to ensure a juicy rib, this was then sliced and placed on the ramen. The ramen was a pork broth with Udon noodles, thai basil, spring onion, coriander, lime and siracha. A deep flavour from the broth, buttery ex-dairy contrasting against the fresh ingredients.

Hasselback Butternut Squash

The next dish was a vegetarian dish of hasselback butternut squash. This was split, peeled then roast for about 30 minutes at 200c until tender but not cooked. At this point, I cut most of the way through the flesh of the squash and intermittently placed some sage to perfume the veg. Back into the oven to finish cooking until probe tender all the way through.
10 minutes before serving, I used some Waz BBQ Sauce (Hawaiian Tropics) mixed with melted butter to glaze the squash and added a few pieces of goats cheese for contrast. This is such a great way to cook squash, we used the hasselback slices to service up some vegetable tacos later in the evening.
Pulled beef chuck tacos

Pulled Chuck Tacos

As the Pub In The Park festival kicked off into the evening, I put together this cracking dish to entice people over to see the Charlie ovens in action and to try some food.
This was beef chuck spiced with Turkish red pepper, Black Peppercorn, Garlic, Cumin and Salt. The chuck was seared over direct heat, smoked indirect and then braised in a homemade stock until completely fall apart, the meat had a good 2 hour rest before pulling to ensure it remained juicy and delicious.
We crisped up some of these blue corn tacos and served the pulled chuck along with crispy onions and a charred pineapple salsa (charred pineapple, red onion, chilli, salt pepper and olive oil). The sweet pineapple fresh punchy chilli contrasted well against the deep rich chuck really well and was an excellent way to show the Charlie in action.

I was really impressed with the Charlie oven through the days cooking. The temperatures were really stable and we used only 4kg charcoal cooking a number of different dishes over the course of 12 hours.

They are incredible looking bits of kit in person and up close, the attention to detail is really impressive and would make a real statement in anyones garden. I dont think there is much you couldn't cook on one of these but for me to cook all this food without using one before really shows how intuitive and simple it was to use. I would love to use one in the Spice Punch Garden and see if it has any limits.
(All photos by David at https://www.spicepunch.co.uk)

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