Having a supply of windblown wood that could last at least one lifetime, is not all bad. A case in point is the first dish out of the rebuilt brick oven, some glazed Salmon with herbs. I also took the advice of the authors of a new British book on brick oven cooking, and bought a battery powered infrared digital thermometer. The one I found records temps up to well over 1100 degrees F, which is very helpful, as I will later explain.
1 Fillet of Wild Salmon
Salt and Pepper
Lemon Juice (We have two Gallon freezer bags full of last year’s Myer Lemons)
Maple Syrup to taste
Fresh Fennel, Dill, and Parsley
A good ridged cast iron skillet is the perfect cooking device for this dish. I didn’t even bother mixing the glaze together in a bowl, and just put them on the fish in the order listed above. The cooking is just as simple.
I built a stick fire out of long deceased yellow pine limbs, and in no time it registered at 1000 degrees F. The plan was to let the back wall heat up to 250, and then put in the Salmon. I pushed the fire to the back when the temp was reached. Then I roasted the Salmon until the pan hit 200 degrees–the thermometer has a laser pointer, so you know what object you’re measuring. Time for a check (see top picture). The left hand piece flaked well–done!
Should you burn pine in a brick oven? The Brits say definitely no, the Americanos who published the design for the oven I built say burn nothing but pine. Going by the results, in an oven, nothing matters but heat, as opposed to a smoker or smokehouse, where the smoke is a flavoring agent. As long as it is not treated–and I had a relative who built a fire once out of treated wood, and was rewarded with a no expenses paid trip to the hospital–it doesn’t matter. I happen to have a few tons of pine blown down and lying on the ground, so pine it is for the near future. If that hurts anyone’s feelings, I offer my sincere tots and pears.