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  • Winchester Eats

Cooking with Meat Smoke Fire

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

I started Winchester Eats as part of a campaign I had to create for a social media strategy course a little over a year ago now. Having done some form of social media strategy or another over the past ten years, I can't say it was money particularly well spent, as apart from a qualification I didn't gain a lot knowledge-wise from it. What I did gain, however (apart from a good few kilos with my reviews!) is a community of like-minded people who all happen to be passionate about food! From people who have changed career direction completely to open Winchester cafes and bars (that all help bring the wider community together), to people who opened independent food and wine shops because they want people to try good quality things from small producers rather than mass-produced items in the supermarkets. People who randomly get in touch to invite me to something foodie, or to simply say hello. Julie from Meat Smoke Fire falls into the latter category, and she also happens to be one of the best cooks, having had her own catering company for years, before moving into different foodie ventures...

The Meat Smoke Fire team specialise in Big Green Egg cooking. These big bold ceramic barbecues not only look great (like giant avocados!), but they are easy to control temperature-wise, enabling you to cook something slowly over several hours should you wish to. They are also super versatile so you can cook a wide range of things on them, from the more traditional foods to barbecue, to pizza and even your Christmas Turkey...

Julie invited a few of us for an informal networking cooking session (which may well become more of a regular thing, fingers crossed!) at her house in the middle of some spectacular Hampshire countryside one sunny Monday a couple of weeks ago.

I knew it was going to be a day full of delicious things thanks to the plates of fresh out of the oven chocolate brownies waiting for us on arrival...

Initial introductions and brownie sampling out of the way, we were then put to work in the kitchen to help prepare lunch. First up a smokey fresh Babaganoush, made in seconds after a couple of aubergines met their bitter end on the grill... They were cooked for twenty minutes or so in their skins, cooled, then peeled and mashed with garlic, tahini, lemon juice, salt and pepper. As Julie points out, you must absolutely prick the skins before you cook the aubergines like this as there's every possibility they could explode otherwise, which would not be great...

I have included Meat Smoke Fire's Babaganoush recipe below, because honestly, everyone needs to make it whatever you cook the aubergines on...


2 aubergines (roughly 700g)

3 tbsp the best Tahini you can find

The juice of 2 Lemons,

1 crushed clove of garlic;

1 handful of chopped parsley

Seeds from half a pomegranate;

2 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste...

Pierce your aubergines with the tip of a knife before putting them onto the grill. Turn your aubergines every few minutes until they’ve thoroughly softened through, this will take about 20-25 minutes. Let them cool enough so that you can handle them. Cut them in half lengthways and use a spoon to scoop out the flesh into a bowl, discard the skins. Mash the flesh a little with a fork. Add the tahini, garlic, lemon juice and parsley and mix through. Season to taste. Sprinkle over the seeds from the pomegranate and drizzle over the oil.

Obviously you can find this and many other Big Green Egg recipes on the Meat Smoke Fire site, where you can also find out a little more about the barbecue itself and learn how you can give one a home should you be tempted (believe me, I am very tempted!). You can also book a cookery lesson with Julie or Nic (who both travel far and wide to do this!) through the site to learn how to use your new purchase properly should you give in to that temptation!

Cookery lessons are all-day affairs. After discussing with you what you would like to make, you will be provided with a full shopping list before your cook turns up for the day to show you how to cook it all. An important extra is the handful of friends you must invite to enjoy your efforts at the end of the day.

I have to say that I would be hoping that Julie would be turning up with the ingredients for the lunch she made us on this particular day - an utterly delicious butterflied leg of lamb (supplied and prepared by the lovely New Forest Farmers who were also in attendance), which had been marinated in yoghurt and harissa and cooked to perfection.

The others in our group prepared an Ottolenghi green bean salad with hazelnuts and orange which went so well with a sweet potato dauphinoise (why have I never attempted a dauphinoise with sweet potato before?!!), and a freshly baked focaccia that Julie had conjured up, and of course our Babaganoush!

And over a couple of hours this group, that had been mostly strangers previously, sat and enjoyed a delicious feast that we had all prepared together, brought together by the love of really good food, great seasonal ingredients, and Julie and Meat Smoke Fire of course...


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