Outdoor Kitchen, Old School–Parts One and Two, Oven and Stove

The Big Kahuna

The Freudian idea of the unconscious mind is a problem for speakers of English, and is probably the result of yet another weak translation concerning the difference between German and English. Unbewusst, usually translated as unconscious, could be better thought of as unaware, as unconscious is more often considered a medical state in English, like a blow to the head. So if we go back to Dr. Freud, unconscious, conscious (unbewusst, bewusst), are more understandable in English as unaware, aware. Because you are unaware of something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist, and doesn’t involve any head banging.

This all may help to explain my realization that I have a final plan for a five part outdoor wood-fired kitchen. I realized this when I woke up from a dream this morning, and the discovery cost me nothing in psychiatric fees. At any rate, here are the five pieces/parts/cooking stations, though I am only going to discuss the first two. I’ll get to the others later.

Brick Oven

Brick Stove

Smoke House

Tuscan Grill

Fire Pit

The Cornerstone

The brick oven will get the most use of all of these, mainly because of its versatility. I should point out that a brick oven is not a pizza oven, but a pizza oven can be made of brick, and most are, but they can also be metal and a number of other materials, such as clay. Many people, myself included, will lapse into calling this a bread oven, as that may be their primary use (this was designed to be mostly a bakery oven). However, anything that can be baked or roasted can be cooked in one of these ovens, with the added advantage that the temperature can easily be raised to 1000 degrees F, or higher. When this oven gets very far above 1100 degrees, my digital thermometer just says “HI.”

Baking traditional bread (think round sourdough loaves) also requires a door for the oven. After a fire is hot enough, which can be used to roast meat, veg, etc, it is allowed to burn down into coals. Those are then spread over the entire surface of the oven, to further heat the surface of the firebricks. After those coals are burned down to ashes, the oven is cleaned out, and the loaves are placed in the oven–this size oven will hold a dozen loaves. The door is then closed, and used to maintain an even temperature of between 400 to 500 degrees, or thereabouts. Theoretically, 36 loaves could be cooked in this with one firing, which made this style of oven popular with large bakeries, or even as communal ovens. The most loaves I have cooked in mine is a grand total of two.

Potager

This particular masonry structure fits into the category of something you don’t see every day–a Potager, more commonly called a Stew Stove in English. These were particularly popular with the upper crust of the eighteenth century, and the most famous ones in the States are at Monticello in Virginia. My Potager is a copy of one rebuilt at Ham House, a British National Trust Elizabethan period property in Surrey. It is definitely a French influenced design.

The concept is elegantly simple. A masonry firebox leads to a chimney like opening (I used flue thimbles as openings). This concentrates all the heat and smoke down to a six inch area. In the case of this stove, just sit a cooking vessel over the opening. The temperature can be varied so that it can range from a sear, to a saute, to a long and slow stewing. In short, this is a half ton equivalence to a modern cooktop, with the exception in my case, that the fuel is free and one hundred percent renewable.

As an experiment, I first used this to roast some poblano peppers that I bought at the farmer’s market, on a grill. They smoked as well as roasted, and were jet black in no time. After I cleaned and sliced them, they went into the freezer for use this winter. For stewing, shovel coals into the firebox, and use a pair of bellows to control the temp. Extra fuel is literally at your feet.

Coals from the brick oven can be used for the Potager, and a busy cook can bake and saute at the same time. Alternately, coals from the smokehouse steel wood stove, pictured above, could be used to smoke something and stew at the same time. A cook with four arms could bake, sear, grill, stew, and smoke food simultaneously. Such a creature would end up with a powerful hunger in no time at all.

Author: southernfusionfood

Writer, Woodworker, and Happy Eater

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