Summer is the favourite time of year for many Australians because of the extra hours of sunlight and the opportunity to cool off in the ocean on one of the many beautiful beaches our country has to offer. The warm season also delivers some of the yummiest produce that can be eaten straight away at a picnic in the park or exquisitely prepared in an outdoor kitchen.
The history of outdoor dining goes back to medieval times when hunting parties used to enjoy a feast of various meats before setting off on the hunt. It was only later that the more formal version of the picnic emerged due to early urban planning that provided gardens and green areas in major cities. The arrival of public transport and automobiles in the 20th century made picnicking in the great outdoors popular for families and in this era, the wicker picnic basket became a favoured accessory. Today, most Australian restaurants and pubs offer a patio dining area or beer garden where meals and a beverage can be enjoyed.
Whether it’s for a weekly catch up or a special celebration, alfresco dining is a pleasure we all enjoy during the warm months and for most of us, it means firing up the barbecue.
But with the dream of owning a house with a backyard or patio for entertaining, outdoor kitchens have made their way into the lives of many and alfresco dining is now not only restricted to barbecuing. As dining al fresco is not left to the restaurants anymore, many Australian homeowners consider adding a pizza oven to their outdoor kitchen to surprise their family and friends with succulent dishes. With a wood-fired pizza oven, great cooking experiences can be enjoyed which go way beyond the Neapolitan pie, from smoked meats and fish to local favourites such as roast leg of lamb or homemade Chicken Parmigiana, there are only a few dishes, which cannot be created in a pizza oven.
If you consider adding a wood fired oven to your alfresco dining area, find out the best recipe to inaugurate the new gadget this summer.
Mussels with chorizo the Portuguese way
Mussels are great food for entertaining. Steamed in beer and paired with delicious spicy sausage, this wood-fired recipe is sure to please the gourmet taste buds of your guests. The recipe is made for three people but easy to double.
Ingredients: 1,5kg mussels, 300g sliced chorizo, 1 yellow capsicum diced, 3 cloves of garlic minced, 1 jalapeno diced, 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 onion chopped, 1 small can of diced tomatoes, 2tbsp parsley chopped, salt and pepper to taste, 200ml ale, crusty baguette
Method: fire your pizza oven and let it cool down to a temperature of about 450C. Meanwhile, pour the olive oil in a large skillet, add the chorizo slices and let them brown off. Once the sausage is caramelized, add the onion and capsicum and let the vegetables sweat for about 4 mins stirring occasionally. Season the mix with salt and pepper. Add the jalapeno and garlic and let cook for further 3 mins. Pour in the ale, bring the mix to a boil and let reduce by three quarters making sure nothing sticks to the bottom of the skillet. Add the tomatoes and let simmer until all flavours have come together for about 10mins and the liquid has reduced. Clean your mussels and check your pizza oven. Place the mussels in a large roasting pan and pour over the chorizo sauce. Slide the pan into the oven and allow to cook until the mussels open -this should not take longer than 3 mins. Give the pan a little shake after about one minute for the sauce to distribute and all shellfish to cook evenly. Remove from the oven and serve immediately with some crusty bread and a cold beer.