Sunday, January 5, 2014

Wood fired, brick oven

Leg of Lamb in the Italian Wood Fired Oven

I know, I know... I don't write, I don't call... I've heard it all from my mother. But, I've been too busy cooking and building an Italian brick oven to sit and write about cooking. I'm back.

Brick ovens, pizza ovens, wood fired ovens, call them what you will. I'm here to clarify that brick ovens are not just used for pizza. Although, the pizza is pretty spectacular. What do I call MY brick oven? Life changer, or Fornaio Mio or Steve. 

home cured pancetta, mashed potato pizza

in the oven

Italian sausage, fresh tomato pizza
It's an oven. Anything you do in your kitchen oven can be done in a brick oven, but with an added adventure. Yesterday, it was snowing and around 20 degrees outside. I was preparing a meal for Richard and Alden, the owners of Kristos Olive Oil in Arvada, CO.
Leg of lamb was on the menu. Oven? Too cold. Oven? Well, maybe. Oven? OKAY!
I built a fire and got the internal temperature up to 900 degrees. 900 HUNDRED DEGREES!
I had butterflied the boneless lamb legs and filled them with a paste, pesto if you will, of mint, rosemary, sage, thyme and garlic. They sat overnight in the refrigerator.
As the fire was warming the oven, I pulled the lamb from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature. The fire was pushed to the back of the oven. In went the legs. After ten minutes the outside was nicely caramelized and getting crispy. Into aluminum foil they go and then back into the oven. An hour later the internal temperature of the lamb was up to about 125. Another 15 minutes and they would be done.
Pulled from the oven, they sat on the counter to "carry over cook" bring the temperature up a bit more while allowing the proteins in the meat to calm down.
The lamb was served with a feta-mint sauce and an herby-garlicky Chimichurri Sauce.
Chimichurri Sauce
Chimichurri is an Argentine sauce used with grilled meats. Serve it with leg of lamb, beef tenderloin, roasted chicken...
Yield: 1 1/3 cups
 3 shallots, peeled and cut into large chunks
2 Tbs. white wine or sherry vinegar
1 cup fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley
1 cup fresh basil
1 Tbs. fresh oregano
3 cloves garlic
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
  • Pulse the shallot in a food processor until finely chopped. Add the vinegar to the bowl of the processor and allow to marinate for half an hour.
  • Add the herbs, garlic and pepper and pulse until coarsely chopped.
  • With the machine running, drizzle in the olive oil to emulsify.
  • Add salt, check for seasoning and add more salt, pepper or vinegar to taste.
Feta-Mint Sauce
Yield: 1 cup
1 cup fresh mint
1 cup Italian parsley
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic
3 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup feta cheese
1 Tbs. feta cheese brine (the liquid it's sitting in)
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper to taste
  • Place mint, parsley, cilantro, garlic, lemon zest, and pepper flakes in the bowl of a food processor.
  • With the machine running, drizzle in olive oil to emulsify.
  • Add feta, feta brine and pine nuts and pulse to combine.
  • Add lemon juice and pulse just enough to combine.
  • Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired.
The oven at night before some cosmetic mortaring and stuccoing... who can wait?!?!
Other delicacies prepared in the oven so far?
French bread
Pizza, pizza and more pizza
Italian Porchetta
Italian white beans
Interested in a wood burning oven of your own? Go to the Forno Bravo website for plans (to build from scratch as we did) or kits, or assembled ovens or just to dream.
Ready? GO!


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