"Mussels work beautifully on the grill, each one an individual vessel that pops open over the intense heat," says Hastie. "The sweet acidity of ripe tomatoes counterbalances the salty mussel juices, which are mopped up by the toasted sourdough."
Note To clean mussels, discard any that are
chipped or damaged. Tap to check the mussels are tightly closed,
discarding any that remain open. Remove the beards and scrub the
shells clean. Soak the mussels in salted water for 30 minutes to
purge any remaining impurities, then rinse in fresh water.
How to prepare wood
* It almost goes without saying, but check the fire restrictions for the day in your area.
* Because they offer better control over airflow, wood-fired ovens are the perfect thing for burning the wood to coals; take care when you're transferring them to your grill or barbecue.
* If you're using a pit, enclose the fire with fire-rated bricks to help retain the heat and to slow the rate of burning.
* If you're using a barbecue, light the fire, close the lid and adjust the vents so the wood doesn't burn too fast. If you happen to have two barbecues, use one for burning the wood and one for grilling.
* Light the fire early - at least 1½ hours before starting cooking. Avoid using fire lighters or treated wood where there can be a residual chemical component. Wood embers burn hotter than the fire itself, so allow the wood to break down to glowing coals with a light-grey coating of ash. Too high a temperature and the subtle elements of the wood become tasteless. Optimal conditions are a slow, smouldering fire.
* Ideally you should use seasoned hardwood (at least 12 months old). Green or unseasoned wood with a high moisture content is harder to light and burns erratically, emitting smoke instead of heat, so it's worth sourcing premium hardwoods from recognised suppliers, such as Blackheath Firewood Company. If you have fruit trees, keep your prunings to use the next year.
* Woods vary in the amount of heat and flavour they produce.
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