If you’re having a party on bonfire night, why fire up the oven? Here are some ideas for foods you can cook on the bonfire itself.
The ultimate fireside treat. Just spike the marshmallow onto a fork or long stick and hold it near the heat of the fire. As you rotate the marshmallow, it will begin to toast, turning golden first and eventually charring black on the outside. But be careful as you bite into it - the centre can be very hot inside. You can either nibble the toasted marshmallows directly from the fork, or make your own version of American s’mores. Just arrange a couple of toasted marshmallows and a square of chocolate between two digestive biscuits. An almost instant Bonfire night pudding.
[Related: More simple bonfire night recipes]
You’ll need to plan a little more ahead for this one, but you can use the heat of the bonfire to cook fluffy jacket potatoes. Just wash and dry the potato and prick a few times with a fork. Then, wrap in a double layer of foil and place in the hot embers of the fire for about 45 minutes. Pull it out carefully using a long fork and unwrap the foil, seasoning with butter, cheese and perhaps some chilli flakes as well. Try cooking sweet potatoes in this way too.
If you’re partial to nibbling sweetcorn kernels off the cob (and admit it, who isn’t), then try cooking them on the fire. If they have their husks intact, you can soak them and then push them into the embers so that they steam inside their husks. Or spread them with butter and wrap in a double layer of foil, leaving them to cook on the embers for 15 minutes, or until they’re tender.
Sausages, steaks, burgers and chops
Sausages and burgers can be cooked by spearing them with a fork and holding them over the fire. But sometimes they fall off, crumble apart or don’t cook evenly enough. The easiest way to cook them is to get hold of a sturdy piece of chicken wire or other metal to make a grill. Then you can place this over the embers of the fire and cook them until done, just like on the barbecue.
This also opens up the possibilities of cooking steaks, chops and even butterflied joints of meat on the bonfire - just make sure meats are thoroughly cooked before serving.
Sandwiches are the ultimate portable snack, and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t make an appearance on Bonfire night. Just prepare sandwiches with various fillings; for example try ciabatta with tomato and mozzarella or croissants with ham and cheese. Wrap them in foil and place in the hot coals of the fire for just a few minutes, turning once, until the cheese inside has melted.
Don’t forget sweet sandwiches like Brie and cranberry or sliced brioche with banana and peanut butter, too.
Beans and stews
Find yourself an old saucepan that you don’t mind getting a bit charred and you’ll be able to cook beans, stews and sauces on the fire. Tuck the pot near the outside edge of the fire to warm, or place on top of the grill you made to cook the meat on. Just make sure you choose a pots without a plastic handle.
Try barbecue-style baked beans, beef and ale stew or have a pot of chilli con carne on the go for friends to help themselves to. To save time, you can always cook the stews beforehand and use the fire to keep them warm.
Fish and seafood
There are two main ways of cooking fish and shellfish on a bonfire. The first is to wrap the fish in a double layer of foil, along with some vegetables and seasonings like sliced fennel, dill, a splash of white wine and some cherry tomatoes. Then place over the hot coals (but away from direct flames), or on the grill mesh for 15-20 minutes, until the fish is cooked through.
The second way is to make kebabs. Shelled prawns and scallops thread easily onto skewers and will only need a few minutes to cook. Have some lemon wedges and black pepper handy for sprinkling over afterwards. You can also cook them straight onto the grill mesh, but be careful they don’t fall through the holes.
Do you cook on the bonfire? Which foods do you like to cook for bonfire night?