Sun is shining. The weather is sweet. Makes you want to.... cook jerk beef curry of course. Once again we wanted the hearty dinner with minimal effort so we deployed the cast iron garden hob and slow cooker. The best of the BBQ and the best of slow cooking.
Now this didn't go quite to plan and was a little less successful that the previous adventures with lamb a la boatyard. I want to stress here that, despite my tendency to always blame my tools, this was very much a case of user error. We had lit the hob and used the first blast of the heat from the charcoal to smoke some fish; this meant that the leftover heating power wasn't quite enough for the MASSIVE slab of beef shin we put in the pot. In short, don't put in a huge whole chunk of meat if you have already burnt most of the charcoal. Simples.
The events that unfolded as a result of this were hilarious and tragic in equal measure. One of the key ingredients in the Jamaican style curries, alongside the cinnamon, garlic and allspice, are one or two scotch bonnet chillies. We stuck in two for a bit more of a kick and sliced one in half. In to the pan also went a couple of onions, a bunch of thyme, some stock and a can of tomatoes. We were broadly following this recipe. This bubbled away on the hob for a couple of hours, more charcoal being added to the hob to top up the heat and the sweet potatoes added half way through.
As we had spent the early part of the evening playing with the smoker and the beef shin was just so darn big, darkness fell as the pot continued to bubble away. How delightful, a beautiful sunset before dinner was served. Well that's the theory. The reality was that, by the time the curry was ready, darkness had well and truly fallen and we ate lit only by the stars. This is where the romance ends. The pitch black night meant that eating dinner was more than a little complicated. I think you can guess where this is headed. Yup, I accidentally ate a whole scotch bonnet chilli. A WHOLE scotch bonnet chilli. My tongue was on fire, my tonsils set alight and my throat started to constrict. I gulped down a whole litre of water but still couldn't quash the flames. I was rescued only by a slightly tepid blackcurrant yogurt and copious dribbling. I shan't go into the affect this had lower down my digestive tract but I am sure you can imagine that it is probably best not to experience this while in a tent.
Some words to the wise. Big chunks of meat on the bone do take ages to cook. Take a closer look at what you are eating before you stick it down your gullet, as camping and scotch bonnet chillies do not mix.
Saunders tells me that the curry was delicious. We might have put the sweet potatoes in a little later but the overall flavour rocked his world (and my gut).