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.