It’s been a while since I last used my Outdoor Kitchen Kotlich set (read about it here) and I’ve been looking forward to cooking with it again. To make it worse, reading recipes in my Kotlich cook book, on Trish’s blog and on sites like Campfire Magazine have really been getting my appetite going! After much deliberation about what to try next, I decided that I would cook up some mussels using the Kotlich. I thought this was a great idea as mussels are such a brilliantly natural food and cooking them outside just seems right.
I’m a massive fan of the River Cottage Handbook series, in particular Sea Fishing by Nick Fisher and Edible Seashore by John Wright, they are both simple and straight forward whilst remaining substantial enough to be very useful. In the later book John gives the following advice about gathering mussels:
- There is no EU landing size but local byelaws often set one, anywhere from 45mm to 51mm.
- Although there is no closed season for Mussels, May – August should be avoided as the mussels will be underweight and susceptible to algal blooms and bacteria which are at higher levels in the warmer months.
- To remove them from their rocky home, give them a gentle twist and try not to disturb their neighbours.
- Before cooking just give them a scrub under cold running water and debeard them
- A bag of mussels
- 2 onions
- 3 cloves of garlic
- Cider or white wine
I used some of my dads home brewed Cider, which is pretty strong but pretty tasty too! You can also use any herbs or seasoning you fancy. Whilst I was chopping my ingredients I lit my fire and got it going nice and hot.
Here is a little side idea that you could do whilst you’re waiting for your kotlich to cook or for puds afterwards!
Get two metal sieves and duck tape them onto a length of bamboo (or any stick really). Then you can place a handful of popping corn inside. You need to find a good distance, close enough to the embers but not so hot that the popcorn burns (I find gently shaking the corn helps but this could be purely psychological). Then you just need to wait a few minutes and you’ll have popcorn which you can eat plain or flavour however you wish.
I love how you can watch them pop!
Back to the Kotlich Mussels…
My mussels were good to go, the smell was amazing and the steam was making my kotlich meal look especially tantalizing. I got the big stirring spoon and started serving the mussels into bowls, making sure to give everyone a good amount of the juices from the bottom of the kotlich.
I think it’s an unwritten rule that mussels must be served with crusty bread. It must be something about the softness of the mussels counter balanced by the crispy, crusty bread that makes it so brilliant. Plus you need all that bread to soak up that amazing garlic and mussel infused, cider sauce. The bakery was out of white crusty rolls when I went to buy them. This meant I had to use a crusty brown loaf instead, although this was still delicious.
You just can’t beat cooking over an open fire. The whole process, gathering the wood and tinder, building the fire, lighting it, the actual cooking, they all just add to the pleasure and the satisfaction which inevitably comes with the eating. This is a brilliant, simple recipe which I will be cooking and adapting again and again. Kotlich cooking as always is the most emotive and joyous way to cook.