"By grilling them whole, the peas are protected by their shells, which are imbued with the smoky embers," says Hastie. "Although you don't get a lot of juice from the pods, the flavour is sweet and intense."
- For barbecuing: seasoned hardwood, preferably apple
- 1.2 kg fresh peas in the pod (see note)
- 1/3 cup (loosely packed) mint leaves
- 100 gm lardo (or pancetta), thinly sliced
- 1 cup (loosely packed) young pea shoots, to serve
- 1Burn wood slowly down to smouldering embers and medium-high heat (see below).
- 2Grill whole peas in the pod in batches, turning once, until charred (1-2 minutes). When cool enough to handle, pod peas, then process pea pods in a juicer (see note) and pass juice through a fine sieve. Combine juice with peas and mint in a saucepan and season to taste. Keep warm.
- 3Grill lardo until it just becomes translucent (1-5 seconds, depending on the heat).
- 4To serve, divide peas and lardo among warm serving bowls, scatter with pea shoots and serve.
Note For the best flavour, use small peas that are young, sweet and tender. Use a slow-extraction juicer to get enough juice from the pods, or add a large handful of fresh peas when juicing.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.
Drink Suggestion: The classic Australian aged sémillon will handle both the chlorophyll and the delicious lardo here – 2005 Tyrell’s Belford Sémillon, NSW. Drink suggestion by Lok Thornton