There’s a chill in the air, absent since early spring, and together with the golden foliage, it can only mean that it’s my favourite foodie time of year: autumn.
Although party season is still a couple of months away, simple, filling, hot autumn food such as baked potatoes or burgers are perfect shared outside as the evenings close in.
Cooking and eating outside aren’t just for summer months – in fact, using open fires or ovens to create meals designed for the great outdoors adds a additional element. Bonfires, barbecues and firepits crackling and glowing are bliss to warm the toes and fingers, but really special for adding a different kind of heat to your home-prepared food.
For this feature we’re using one of Jamie’s gorgeous wood-fired ovens to create our dishes and so, with the help of Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise and Hellmann’s Ketchup, we’ve got three inspirational show-stopping dishes for any weather. So warm up your ovens and chill out.
First up is a bite-sized autumnal miracle – mini baked potatoes filled with a beef slider (or miniature burger) and topped with an incredibly simple but gorgeous Russian dressing. We’ll call them Burger nutshells.
The method for this, in a nutshell (now you get it), couldn’t be simpler:
Bake 6 medium potatoes, halve them and scoop out the fluffy, hot potato. Brush the skins all over with olive oil then season well.
Use clean hands to mix 400g minced beef, a finely chopped red onion, salt and some chopped parsley before dividing into 12 equal balls.
Wet your hands and roll them into burger-shaped patties. Place sliders inside the oiled potato skins, and cook in the heated oven – they will take three minutes, so watch closely. You can of course use a normal indoor oven for this – at its highest setting if possible.
For the Russian dressing – mix equal parts of Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise and Hellmann’s Ketchup, add a chop a red onion and a red chilli, and that’s ready to be spooned on top of the sliders when they’re cooked. The dressing keeps the burger super-juicy and adds a lovely background without losing the texture or flavor of the meat.
For a cheesy alternative, pack a few of the skins with the fluffy potato and a couple of teaspoons of mayo mixed with some grated Cheddar. Top with extra grated cheddar and a little of the ketchup to season, and bake until bubbling and browned.
Enjoyed with a mulled cider warmed through on the bonfire – this really celebrates the season.
Now for an extraordinarily showy, yet super-simple dish of pre-cooked lobster halves finished in the oven with a mustard-tinged topping.
For each lobster, mix 2 tablespoons of Hellmann’s Real Mayonnaise with 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard and spoon over the split lobster, along with a tiny splash of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Place in the oven till bubbling and serve piping hot.
Buffalo wings (or chicken wings for the easily confused) are an American favourite. They’re sticky, sweet and tender treats marinated in a tasty sauce that can be slurped right off the bone, once they have been caramelised in the oven.
Mix together 100g tomato ketchup, 100g mayonnaise, some red chilli and a chopped white onion. Marinate 500g of chicken wings and 500g of chicken drumsticks in this for at least 20 minutes before roasting, preferably using wood. At 300°C, they will cook in about 10 minutes, so keep the dish turning to cook evenly.
To finish it all off, a chai latte – a feature of most high street coffee shops these days, but so much better when created at home and warmed over the bonfire to really release the spiced secrets within.
In a pan, put a cup of black tea, and three cups of full fat (don’t hold back!) milk, a cinnamon stick, three or four star anise, some cloves, and few cardamom pods. Add plenty of sugar, to taste, and simmer for 10 minutes. You can keep topping up the milk and tea – the longer it simmers the better the flavour.
Serve in small cups to keep the drink hot.
Whatever the celebration, whatever the temperature outdoors and whatever your cooking method, the fresh open air is yours for the taking this autumn – just make sure you take some lovely, piping hot food with you.
Words Jim Tanfield
Stylist Cara Hobday
Pictures Matt Russell