We hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Thanks to all who shared photos and recipes from their holiday meals. It's always nice to see those Forno Bravo ovens in action!
Now, as many of us turn our focus to making gift lists and shopping, let me pass this thought along: There's never been a better time to purchase a wood-fired oven – for yourself or that extra-special person on your list.
We offer a variety of ovens to suit every preference: fully assembled or modular; stand options; shape, color and tile choices; multiple sizes, from the small and portable (Strada60) to the large (48" Artigiano). Our most recently announced oven is the Napolino, a beautiful Naples-style oven for the backyard. What an unforgettable gift this would be for anyone interested in wood-fired cooking (see more at right). Best of all, our ovens are built using high-tech refractories and space-age insulators, ensuring optimal high-temperature performance for perfect Pizza Napoletana and excellent heat retention for baking and roasting.
If an oven is a little out of reach this year, here's another gift idea: We are now offering a great-looking line of Spanish terracotta bakeware via the Forno Bravo Store (more below), a thoughtful and practical gift for the culinarily inclined. This month's featured recipe – mussels with chorizo – would look lovely served in a piece of this bakeware.
Finally, on the subject of giving, I have been inspired by seeing people come together to help those affected by Sandy. I've posted a few times in the Wood-Fired Blog about the role of pizza and wood-fired ovens in Sandy relief efforts. This has been a timely reminder of how harnessing one's own talents and resources can be a powerful way to help others in need.
Best wishes for a joyous holiday season,
P.S. Pizza Quest continues to post great content. We've included the beginnings of a new webisode arc below. And there's a lot more to see at www.pizzaquest.com.
Gift Idea: Terracotta Bakeware
Just in time for holiday shopping, we have established a direct import relationship with a large Spanish terracotta bakeware manufacturer. Their wonderful, rustic casseroles and baking pans are in stock now and ready to ship via the Forno Bravo Store. These pieces are the perfect present for the pizza oven lover on your list.
Our manufacturing partner has been making terracotta for over 100 years – incredible. The producer actually makes two grades of terracotta bakeware: clay and stoneware. We are stocking only the higher-grade (and more expensive) stoneware. You will really like the way it looks.
We are offering oval, rectangle and covered round casseroles. These pans are perfect for roasted vegetables, rice dishes, lasagna, eggplant parmesan, Tuscan beans and stews (think chicken cacciatore).
Peter's Corner: New Webisode Series Featuring Basta
Peter Reinhart, our Pizza Quest host, baking instructor and baker extraordinaire, introduces a new webisode series featuring Basta, a wonderful wood-fired restaurant in Boulder.
This short opening segment re-introduces you to Kelly Whitaker, the visionary chef/owner of Basta. It all begins with a cup of espresso. Kelly starts each day with this morning ritual and, as you will see over the next months, leads us into all sorts of wonderful culinary adventures.
Pizza Quest is "a journey of self-discovery through pizza," and we don't take that promise lightly. Our webisodes set out to explore that journey, often starting with pizza, because it is such a perfect flavor delivery system as well as the perfect metaphor, and then we follow it wherever it leads.
That's how we end up meeting so many visionaries, people like Kelly, whom many of you already know from earlier webisodes. But you will now get to know him in a new and deeper way as we explore, with him and his colleagues, the fire that burns in their bellies, the compelling vision that drives them to do extraordinary things. In so doing, we hope to inspire all of our viewers to tap into their own vision, or at least to vicariously share our vision as it leads to and connects with your own.
Recipe: Mussels With Chorizo and Beer
We hope you enjoy this month's featured recipe from the Forno Bravo Community Cookbook, written by our chef moderator Dan Compton. Want to add your own recipe? Take a few moments to create a free Community Cookbook account!
Pairing mussels with chorizo is a classic combination. This is my cook-with-what-you-got take on the dish, which came about when I had some leftover mussels from the restaurant and a bunch of hungry family members to feed.
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- 8 oz Mexican-style chorizo
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 1/2 bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 jalapeno, or to taste, thinly sliced into rounds
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 12 oz beer, preferably a lager (I used Dos Equis)
- 15 oz whole peeled canned tomatoes
- 5 lbs PEI or other mussels
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
Place the olive oil in a large skillet in your wood oven or on the stove over medium-high heat. Once it starts to smoke, add the chorizo and brown it off, using a wooden spoon to break up the meat as it cooks.
Once the chorizo is broken up and caramelized, add the onion and bell pepper, season with salt and pepper, and allow the vegetables to sweat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Add the jalapeno and garlic and cook the mixture for 3 minutes more. Add the beer and stir well to dislodge any delicious caramelized goodness from the bottom of the skillet. Bring the mixture to a boil and allow the beer to reduce by three-quarters.
While the beer is reducing, open the can of tomatoes, pour them into a bowl and use your hand to crush the tomatoes into little bits. Add the tomato to the skillet, re-season to taste, and allow the mixture to simmer gently for at least 15 minutes, until the flavors have all come together and the tomato liquid has reduced somewhat.
While your sauce is cooking, clean your mussels. (If needed, see the Community Cookbook for a quick primer on cleaning mussels.) Once your mussels are all clean, preheat a large roasting pan in your wood oven. Your oven should be very hot – pizza hot. Add the mussels to the dry pan and then pour the chorizo sauce over the top. Slide the mussels back into the oven and allow to cook just until the mussels open, rotating the pan once. If your oven is hot enough, this could happen in as little as 1-2 minutes. It won't take any more than 5.
Remove from the oven, serve immediately with some crusty bread, and be happy.