Cooking Meats With Wood Fired Ovens

Outdoor ovens can be used for more than baking bread, try cooking meats with wood-fired ovens, making soups, roasting vegetables and even baking cookies and cakes in your oven.

| October/November 2002

  • Discover how cooking meats with wood fired ovens can produce a tastier cut of meat.
    Discover how cooking meats with wood fired ovens can produce a tastier cut of meat.

  • Discover how cooking meats with wood fired ovens can produce a tastier cut of meat.

Learn about cooking meats with wood-fired ovens.

Cooking Meats With Wood Fired Oven

Many people build earth ovens for the crisp bread crust and chewy crumb texture that only high-temperature, retained-heat ovens can provide. But wood-fired ovens go far beyond bread, Cooking meats with wood-fired ovens takes some practice, but soon you will be capable of roasting, broiling, steaming or braising.

After one oven-building workshop, some new owners wrote this note: “Roasted sweet potatoes, zucchini and onions in a cumin-orange-juice glaze with roast garlic pork loin (for the meat eater). Baked apples, then roasted eggplant, squash and leeks, made rosemary polenta, herb-roasted salmon and peach pie. This morning: cinnamon rolls.”

Bearing in mind the time, effort and firewood you put into your oven, you’ll want to get the most out of it. Awareness, attention and experience will be your best teachers.

With practice, you’ll get a reliable feel for the right temperatures. For example, I know the oven is ready for sourdough bread baking (400 degrees to 450 degrees Fahrenheit) when I can hold a closed fist in the oven for a full eight seconds, or when a handful of flour tossed on the oven’s floor takes 10 to 20 seconds to turn dark brown. Thermometers are OK too, but a very hot oven will destroy a typical oven thermometer that only goes up to 500 degrees.

Here are specific examples from our own mud-oven feasts, to give you a brief idea and, we hope, inspiration for what a well-fired oven can cook up. They are in roughly the order you’d bake them, though in an average-size oven (plus or minus 27 inches in diameter), you’re unlikely to get all this food from one bake. You might need to add a bit more fire, unless your oven is extra-thick and well-insulated:

5/8/2011 5:34:10 AM

This is by far the best guide on how to build a clay oven!!

1/16/2011 11:45:52 AM

Pack a hard HALL (50 to 100 pats), and drop it from chest height. It should hold together. If it doesn’t, ACID a little water. Perhaps they meant BALL and ADD? The editor needs to proof read the "spell checker" as it's adding "correctly spelled" words, but it's adding the wrong "correctly spelled" words!

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