"Stracciatella are strands of fresh mozzarella, soaked in heavy cream," says Hastie. "They're beautiful melted and infused with the green, bright taste of lemon leaves." Eat the cheese by drawing the leaf through your teeth - but don't eat the leaf itself.
- For barbecuing: seasoned hardwood, preferably lemon
- 20 unsprayed large lemon leaves (see note)
- For drizzling: extra-virgin olive oil
- 400 gm stracciatella, or buffalo mozzarella or burrata, cut into 3cm pieces
- 1Burn wood slowly down to smouldering embers and medium heat (see below).
- 2Brush lemon leaves lightly with olive oil, then top with stracciatella.
- 3Grill, in batches if necessary, until the leaves gently blister and cheese melts (2 minutes). Remove from heat, finish with a pinch of sea salt, season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of olive oil, and serve.
Note Lemon leaves are available from nurseries.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: A dry, crisp rosé is an ideal barbecue wine and they don't get much more delicious than the 2013 Cillar de Silos “Rosado de Silos” Tempranillo from Spain. Drink suggestion by Lok Thornton
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