Long Wine-dy Road: Camp cookouts with Chef Dave
Ask us our thoughts on camping and we’ll have our gear ready within the hour. It’s up there with our favourite things to do. Cold nights and crisp mornings, river swims, red wine, crackling campfires – it’s all good – even waking to a demonic kookaburra’s laugh after a horrific night’s sleep can’t bring us down.
As a whole, our camp skills are pretty ace but they do fall short in the kitchen. We’re simple creatures, and rice and tuna can satiate us for days on end in the bush, but not even the most delicate, fruity wine will get our taste buds revved up after the third bowl of rice for the day. It’s this cuisine cluelessness that forced us to take our good mate Chef Dave Powell away on our latest trip out bush. It even inspired us to create our own collection of wines that we reckon go with camping life: The Long Wine-dy Road. Click here to check ’em out.
Chef Dave by name, just Dave by qualifications, his only formal training came as a kitchen hand in a small Spanish restaurant as a young lad, but still he’s run classes and catered for dinner parties all around Melbourne. He’s completely self-taught, gets excited over French and Italian styles of cooking and won’t touch anything unless it’s in season. He also spends way too much time sharpening his knives on the weekends which is fine, I guess, if we keep referring him to as Chef Dave and not admitting he may just be a psychopath who happens to cook like an absolute champion.
Chef Dave had never cooked on an open fire before so we provided moral support by sitting around, drinking wine and offering no assistance whatsoever. He’s the professional, after all, and it’s just as well we didn’t get involved because he served up simple dishes that had us instantly salivating, requiring nothing more than foil and some cast iron cookware. Check ‘em out below for all your foodie kicks, and better yet, Chef Dave has given us his recipes (all of which serve 6) so you can conjure up some magic either next time you’re out enjoyin’ nature.
Mussels with pancetta and cider
Pair with: A crisp and funky chardonnay like this 2016 Yarra Valley number.
2kg mussels (cleaned, scrubbed and bearded)
200g pancetta or guanciale, cut into small cubes
50g unsalted butter
3 golden shallots, sliced thin
1 clove of garlic, diced finely
half a bunch of thyme, leaves picked
half a bunch of parsley, leaves only, finely chopped
200ml cider (something dry)
100ml creme fraiche
- Clean the mussels by running them under cold water until it runs clear then take off the beards (if they have any). Throw away any mussels with broken shells, as well as any that don’t close tightly when tapped a few times.
- Heat the butter in a large pot over a medium heat, then add the pancetta or guanciale and cook for around five minutes until semi-crispy. Add the shallots, garlic and thyme and cook for a couple of minutes until softened but not coloured. Now crank up the heat to maximum and add the mussels and most of the parsley, along with the cider. Give everything a stir and pop a lid on while you cook for about six minutes, or until all of the mussels are open. Don’t overcook.
- Remove the mussels with a slotted spoon and place in serving bowls. Bring the remaining liquid to the boil and stir through the creme fraiche. Season to taste with salt and pepper, but be careful with the salt. Top mussels with the sauce and a sprinkling of the remaining parsley. Serve immediately with a heap of crusty bread to mop up the sauce.
Lamb chops with salsa verde
Pair with: Get around a cabernet sauvignon, the perfect accompaniment to keep your flavours flavoursome and your body warm. Check out our Black Market Deals for some of the best value cabernet sauvignon in town.
12 lamb loin chops from a butcher you trust
For salsa verde (makes about a cup):
1 golden shallot, very finely diced
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar
4 anchovies (good ones, don’t skimp)
bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves only
bunch of basil, leaves only
2 tablespoons of salted capers, rinsed well and roughly chopped
150ml good quality extra virgin olive oil
- Make the salsa verde. Put the shallot in a small bowl with the red wine vinegar, and soak for half an hour. After this, bash the anchovies in a pestle and mortar, then gradually add the leaves and capers, leaving a bit of texture at the end. Add in the shallots and a bit of the liquid, then gradually stir in the oil until you reach your desired consistency. Taste and season to your liking with salt (carefully), pepper and some remaining vinegar (or lemon juice) if required.
- For the lamb, bring to room temperature before cooking, then season each side with salt and pepper, plus some neutral oil (sunflower or vegetable). Grill over high heat in a cast iron pan (or on a BBQ grill) until cooked to your liking (medium is best for this cut of lamb). Rest for a few minutes before serving with the salsa verde.
Rainbow trout stuffed with winter herbs
Pair with: Break out the rosé, like this brilliant McLaren Vale pink.
3 healthy, good-sized rainbow trout, clean and scaled
3 handfuls of winter herbs (good suggestions are dill, tarragon, parsley, sorrel, marjoram, lemon balm and thyme)
1 lemon, cut into thin slices
1 clove of garlic, sliced very finely
100ml dry white wine
75g unsalted butter
- Place each fish on a double layer of foil or baking paper, leaving enough room to wrap them up after stuffing. Open the cavity and season with some salt and pepper. Stuff each fish with a handful of the mixed herbs, as well as a few lemon and garlic slices. Pour a little white wine over each fish, top with a couple of pieces of butter, and then wrap up the parcel making sure there are no gaps anywhere.
- Place on an oven tray and into a 200 degree oven for about 15-20 minutes, or until the flesh is flaking away from the bone. Alternatively, place the parcels directly on some hot coals from a fire, and leave for about 15 minutes.
New potatoes with tarragon and crème fraîche
1.2kgs of baby new potatoes, cleaned well and skin left on
Bunch of fresh tarragon, leaves picked and left whole
2 tablespoons of creme fraiche
- Put the end of a sharp knife into each potato a few times, then add to a shallow oven pan. Cover the pan with some foil, making sure it is very tight. Put into a 180 degree oven for around 30 minutes, or until each potato is cooked through. Reseal the foil if you need to add them back in.
- When the potatoes are done, add them to a mixing bowl and while hot, combine them with the tarragon, creme fraiche, salt and pepper. Eat while warm.