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Steaks on the Hearth

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Steaks on the Hearth

With our newly installed model 83 Le Panyol wood fired oven here at the shop, the Maine Wood Heat staff is fortunate enough to fire the oven and cook whenever we want. We are a lucky bunch. Last week, I brought in some grass-fed beef raised on my farm to cook on the hearth. I have cooked pizzas and roasted veggies, but I had never cooked steaks. My mouth was watering at the opportunity.

The oven had a little residual heat left after cooking pizzas a few days earlier, so when we started the fire, it was already 90 degrees. Once the fire took hold, and we began adding more fuel, the temperature rose about 200 degrees every 15 minutes. After one hour, we reached a temp of just over 850 degrees.

The hearth was looking warm and inviting, so with confidence, I tossed the steaks in. I watched them sizzle for five minutes and then flipped each steak and cooked them for another five minutes as Scott advised. I have to admit, whenever I grill meat, I often second-guess myself in terms of knowing when the meat is fully cooked. I did the same with the steaks in the oven and asked Scott for some help. He had me push my cheek with my finger, then push the steak. The texture was the same, which he explained was a good indicator it was ready.

Now here are two other very important tips that Scott & Cheryl taught me.

Tip #1 – Always let the steaks rest for one minute after taking them out of the oven. The outside of the meat is fully cooked and is hotter than the interior, so more cooking actually happens after you take them out and let them settle. After a minute, I cut in and revealed a perfectly cooked medium rare steak – exactly what I wanted.

Tip #2 – I noticed some residual fat on the hearth after I took the steaks out, so as I let the steaks rest, Cheryl advised me to rake the coals over the hearth. She explained that the oven is self-cleaning, but it took seeing to believing. After about ten minutes, we raked the coals back to the rear of the oven, and to my amazement, exposed a perfectly clean hearth, ready to cook our next masterpiece. See the before and after pictures below…

 

Overall, steaks on the hearth was a huge success. What I love about working with a Le Panyol, is even when you’re a beginner and trying to cook new things, it’s actually difficult to make mistakes. The oven is really forgiving, and what you get out of it tastes so amazing, you just gain more confidence with each firing.

With that experience under our belts, we’ve decided to branch out again and try something different. On the menu this week – a new twist to an old favorite – wood fired macaroni & cheese.

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Discussion

  1. Paul  March 28, 2012

    Amy,

    I’ve done steaks several times. The first time, I was getting ready for pizza and as I also had a number of steaks in the fridge (and being fairly “weak-kneed” when it comes time to pass up an experiment) I decided to throw a few in to see what happened. the hearth was at about 800-850 at the time. I brushed the embers out of the way and gave 3 steaks (about an inch thick).

    Well, each immediately burst into flame which I saw as a good sign. Left them in for about 3 minutes on the first side, 2 on the second. Letting them rest for about 2 minutes after pulling them out and they were outrageous! Nice char on the outside and perfectly medium rare on the inside.

    The last time I tossed steaks, I had 10 angus steaks and the hearth was about the same temp, but the steaks were a bit thicker (maybe 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 inches thick). Although they were perfectly done on the outside, they were still a bit closer to the “mooing” stage on the inside (which is MY preference, but not everyones’). I decided that with the hearth this hot, the thickness made quite a difference for my guests. At that thickness, they didn’t get quite to the medium rare stage on the inside. So, while cooking at a higher temp to get that perfect char on the outside, I’m limited to the thickness of about an inch.

    Even though, nobody left hungry and I didn’t end up getting any extra steaks either. So, I guess my guests still enjoy my experiments.

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    • joe oliveri  July 18, 2013

      Where can I buy a grill for my pizza oven to cook steaks? You say toss steak and I am confused as to what you place them on? I like Charred Steaks any suggestions ? Thank you for your consideration. joe

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      • Amy Clark  July 18, 2013

        Hello Joe; Thanks for your comment. I suppose you could try any place that sells kitchenware or grilling items. When I’ve cooked steaks in a Le Panyol I’ve just placed them directly on a swept hearth. They need your direct attention as they will cook quickly on a hearth next to a live bed of coals. Le Panyol directs you not to use a grate for building a fire on but a raised grill over coals raked out thinly on the hearth might be a good strategy to get the char you’re looking for. Make sure that anything you place in your oven can handle the heat of the fire without damage. Pieces of firebrick might be good for setting a grill up off the hearth. Amy’s post “Steaks on the Hearth” was referring to cooking steaks without a grill, directly on Le Panyol’s Terre Blanche hearth tiles. They neither add nor take away anything from your food. Some oven manufacturers advise cooking only pizzas on the hearth and using a grill for other foods, I’m not sure why. I hope this was helpful Joe; if you try it out please do let us know how it goes!

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