On behalf of the entire Forno Bravo team, I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday season. For our family, an integral part of the festivities is cooking in and enjoying food from our wood-fired oven. There's just something special about starting that fire – especially on colder days, waiting for your oven to heat up, and then preparing wood-fired dishes for all to enjoy.
And speaking of colder days … this time of year, we begin getting questions about wood-fired cooking in winter weather. The good news is that a wood-fired oven works very well in cold climates, and won't have any trouble with snow. A modern wood oven is installed using high-tech insulation, which holds in the heat when the oven is cooking and keeps the cold out.
Of course, it is important that your modular oven is installed properly, with a waterproof enclosure and using the insulation that comes with the oven. The Forno Bravo assembled ovens also work in cold, snowy climates: The oven enclosure is sealed and painted to withstand outdoor weather conditions. But you must take care to ensure water does not enter the oven cooking area. Always place the oven door tightly across the oven opening, and place the terracotta cap on top of the chimney. In below-zero conditions, fire your oven a little more slowly to give it more time to warm up.
Now, on to the newsletter. This month, we feature a stocking stuffer gift guide for the wood-fired cook, to the right. We've also included some information on our Primavera oven. While it won't exactly fit into a stocking, this fully assembled oven is a perfect gift for someone wanting to experience the joys of wood-fired cooking – with no forklift required. Below, Brad English of Pizza Quest shares a recipe for fire-roasted Brussels sprouts, a nice addition to your holiday meals.
Warmest holiday wishes,
Peter's Corner: Brad's Fire-Roasted Brussels
Peter Reinhart, our Pizza Quest host, baking instructor and baker extraordinaire, shares a new instructional from Brad English.
Fire-Roasted Brussels by
I remember as a kid I wasn't supposed to like Brussels sprouts. That probably has a lot to do with how they were served by my parents. I called my mother to see how she served them to us and the phone went silent. She finally said, "I don't think I ever served them to you kids. Maybe it was your grandmother." Well, I know I ate them somewhere, so let's blame Grandma! We decided they were probably steamed. I would probably like that today, and I sort of did back then. I felt like I was a giant eating a whole head of cabbage or something.
But today is a different story. We don't steam them anymore. We roast them, or pan-fry them to the point where they are both moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. In fact, we treat them more like a pizza than a vegetable. I always nail them with high heat and give them the business and they are so thick that they can withstand it all and still give something great back to you.
What better way to cook these little babies than in a 900-degree wood-fired oven? Let's see what we can do here.
Bacon or pancetta
Chopped red onion
Salt and pepper
The sprouts: Clean the sprouts by trimming off any browned bits at the base and pull off any browned leaves. I par-boil them for a minute to get them soft, but not done. Let them cool and then cut them in half. This allows you to brown more of them up when cooking.
The bacon and onions: Separately, chop up some bacon and red onion, or shallots, and sauté them until they are only "mostly done," that is, till they wilt and the bacon renders off a lot of fat but has not yet crisped . They too will finish in the oven.
In a bowl, combine the sprout halves and bacon/onion mixture and drizzle with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle a little salt and pepper to taste and toss.
Put the sprout mixture into an iron skillet and slide it into the WFO. 900ºF gets the pan hot and these things cooking pretty fast. Don't worry, there's time to sip your beer. You did open a beer, right? Do I have to include that in the ingredient list?
Brown them. Char them. Toss. Back into the fire.
Make sure to get enough of them charred up. The burnt tips/edges provide a ton of flavor as well as a crisp texture to contrast with the softer interior. These also make a great pizza topping. Enjoy!
Condensed from Brad's original post on Pizza Quest, where you can see the full gallery of photos.
Featured Oven: The Primavera
Give the gift of wood-fired cooking! Our Primavera ovens combine the simplicity and convenience of a charcoal BBQ with the pleasure of true Italian wood-fired cooking.
They come ready-to-cook, complete with a fully insulated refractory dome and cooking floor, vent, and door (with a built-in thermometer) – pretty much everything you need but the wood.
- Available in two sizes: the 24" Primavera60 and the 28" Primavera70, with or without a stand
- Two color options: giallo, a warm Mediterranean yellow with a brown glaze, and red, a warm terracotta with a brown glaze
- Very fast heat times (as little as 20 minutes) and excellent heat retention for baking true Vera Pizza Napoletana and hearth bread
- Easily maintain the high heat (700ºF+) necessary for serious pizza baking, while the outside of the oven stays cool to the touch
- Cooking chamber and landing area that can be separated with a freestanding door, giving you different cooking temperatures and the flexibility to prepare different dishes in different spots: bake at high heat with a live fire, roast, grill over hot coals, or remove the fire from the oven and cook with retained heat (The Primavera oven does it all!)
- Italian-style vent system, providing excellent air movement
Based on modern refractory materials and space-age insulation, the Primavera ovens are the real thing.
Note: The Primavera photo above was a finalist in last year's photo contest.