Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Perfect Roast Beef from Your Wood Cookstove

For nearly a year now, I've wanted to blog about my favorite method for cooking roast beef in a wood cookstove, and tonight I finally get to do so.  Here is what I do:

If you are starting with a cold stove, the first thing to do is to start a brisk fire a little before the time when the roast needs to start cooking in order to be done at the desired hour.  Once the kindling is burning and a good draft is established, shut the oven damper as soon as possible so that the oven is heating.  Then, take advantage of the hot cooktop!  Place the bottom of your roaster over the firebox.  Sometimes I add just a little bit of butter, but today I gave it a quick squirt of non-stick cooking spray.  Then, put the roast in with whatever you consider the top side down. 

Beef roast searing over the firebox.

This is a shot of the fire which was burning under the roast in the
picture above.  As you can see, it is pretty brisk.

Once the top of the roast is seared, turn it over with a fork and sear the other side.  I often sear the vertical sides, too.  While the bottom is searing, season the roast with salt and pepper and then lay several bay leaves on top of the roast.  Pour enough hot water from the teakettle into the bottom of the roaster to just cover the bottom of the pan.

The seasoned roast, seared on both sides, is getting
a little drink from the teakettle.

Place the lid on the roaster and put the roast in the oven, which should be plenty hot at this time.  Mine was at four hundred degrees.  Of course, you won't want the roast to continue cooking at such a high temperature.

The roast beef in the oven.  By the way, the roaster was purchased
last year on our trip to The Dutchman, the Amish and Mennonite
equivalent of Wal-Mart in Cantril, Iowa.
This afternoon, I had to go to my parents' house for awhile once the roast was in the oven, so I put two large pieces of wood in the firebox.

Two large pieces of wood placed on the hot fire which
was seen in a picture above.  Sorry about the pic. being
off center.

Then I closed the bottom draft on the ash door, closed the side draft almost completely down, and shut the damper most of the way.  This slowed the fire, but kept a gentle roasting heat for the time that I was gone.

The stovepipe damper on the Margin Gem.

When I came back about two hours later, the house smelled heavenly, and the little chuck roast was done to a turn.  It was tender and juicy, and it was swimming in a beautiful brown juice which would have made the perfect gravy.  (I don't always make gravy because I'm not a gravy lover.  The beautiful juices from this roast went to the barn cats.)

The perfect beef roast cooked on the wood cookstove.

Of course, the side dishes weren't done yet because I hadn't been home, so the roast went into the warming oven where it would remain hot but not continue cooking until the rest of the meal was ready. 

The beef roast hanging out in the warming oven until the rest of
the meal was ready.

Because it is summertime and we don't have a fire in the stove each day, I was multi-tasking, cooking not only supper, but also maidrites for lunches this week and black raspberries for jelly.

I'm sure that the number of methods to cook roast beef on a wood cookstove is equal to the number of people who use these stoves, but this method has always yielded a great final product for me.  I've used two other methods for cooking roast beef, but they are more suitable to cold weather cooking, so please stop in again to see other options.  If you've got your own method, as always, please share!

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