Wood-Fired Oven Cooking Techniques

Wood-fired ovens are capable of an almost endless variety of cooking styles. With nearly all types of cooking, you should bring your oven fully up to heat, then prepare it for the type of cooking you want to do by moving the fire and coals, and letting the oven temperature reach the range where you will be cooking. How long you fire your oven depends on how much cooking you will be doing, and how long you want your oven to hold its heat.

As a quick overview, the main cooking styles are as follows:

Fire-in-the-oven (650°F and up!): Fire-in-the-oven cooking is for baking pizza, pizza-like flatbreads and certain types of appetizers, all of which cook in a couple of minutes. The goal with this type of cooking is to completely fill the floor and dome with heat, build up a large-sized bed of coals, and maintain a large fire so the flame reaches the top of the dome.

Roasting (600°F-450°F): Roasting is for dishes where you want to sear meats or brown vegetables and casseroles before either covering them with a lid or with liquids, and for dishes that will cook completely before the outside either burns or becomes too brown.

Baking (500°F and lower): Baking is used for bread, desserts, smaller roast meats, beans and legumes, and pasta dishes.

Grilling: Your brick oven makes a great grill. By raking a layer of hot coals across the cooking floor at the front of the oven, and then sliding a free-standing cast iron grill into the oven, you can enjoy grilling that sets seared grill marks and seals in moisture for food that is crisp and not dried out.