Wood fired ovens are not just about pizza, they are great for an entire range of lovely dishes from full roasts to fish dishes. The possibilities are endless.
I am the proud owner of a Stone Bake Company mezzo 76 clay oven and since installing the heavy beast earlier this year as the centrepiece oven in our outdoor kitchen area we have had some great fun with it. Now unlike my UUni2s and my Roccbox which are more suited to my quick midweek cooking the Mezzo 76 is not a quick affair. I like to use the mezzo 76 on lazy weekend days where I can really enjoy the whole experience of real wood fired cooking on a big heavy clay oven.
I will start the oven off around 9am in the morning with the view to having whichever meat I have decided to roast low and slow ready to feast on around early evening time
Starting the fire is simple, build a kindling stack in the centre of the oven and with a natural firelighter situated in the middle once lit this this will start a good fire and just keep adding kindling until you get a good base good enough to start adding small kiln dried logs. I like to use kiln dried from a reputable business which has a very low moisture content and are all cut to a very good size for what I want. Seasoned logs from tree surgeons etc I find are too high in moisture content and size wise can be too big. Great for a big roaring open fire in the lounge but not good for my WFO.
Wood wise I like birch, oak, apple, cherry as a first choice and always ring my supplier in advance of running low to make sure I get the wood I want as it is very important to the oven running well and not producing too much smoke.
Once the oven has a good fire going I will push the fire to the back of the oven and as I continue to add wood I may wrap it around one side also. I will get the oven nice and hot then ease off on the wood to bring the temperature down ready to cook low and slow on for a good few hours.
My favourite choice of meat for this is a nice big piece of Pork Shoulder either bone in or out just remember if its bone in it will cook quicker from the inside as the bone heats up inside. Other roasts I like are shoulders and legs of Mutton, Hoggett, Lamb and our new family favourite meat Goat. All lend themselves to a low and slow treatment in the WFO and all taste great.
Ideally we are looking for 140-150c internally at the point there your meat is going to be placed and once up to temp we can get the meat in. I like to make a trivet of onions, carrots, any root veg etc for the meat to sit on so its not too close to the heat of the oven floor and I like to add a stock to the pan to allow for basting as the meat cooks ,a nice bottle of dark ale can go to making a brilliant gravy at the end.
Once the meat is in its a case of just tending to the fire adding the occasional log to maintain the temperature you cant just leave it. Its the whole process I enjoy and its a cook I like to do while spending a day together at home with the family.
Once cooked serve your chosen meat with traditional roast veg, yorkshires and gravy or shred the meat and serve in a flatbread done in WFO and a wicked coleslaw.
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