Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Awesome Roasted Bacon-Wrapped Maple Pecan Carrots in the Wood Cookstove

So, our Sunday dinner last weekend was really good even if I do say so myself.

The meat dish was a pork roast that I cooked in the Margin Gem using this method.  The roast was frozen solid when it went into the oven at 9:00 a.m. as we were leaving for church.  When we arrived back home at 11:30, it wasn't quite finished yet, but I needed a hotter oven for a new carrot recipe that I wanted to try, so I set one of my stove top ovens on the cooktop and transferred the roast to it.  This way, I could add a lot of biscuit wood to the fire in order to raise the temperature of the Margin Gem's oven but continue gently cooking the roast by moving the tin oven across the stovetop to the appropriate coolness.

Originally, the carrot recipe came from Hey Grill, Hey by Susie Bulloch, a website devoted to recipes for grilling a variety of foods.  Of course, I had to put my own spin on it and convert it for use on the wood cookstove, but she deserves all of the credit for the fabulous original idea.  You should go see her original post with links to a video because you will better understand what I did after you see what inspired me.

We had a wonderful carrot crop this year.  The carrots have had excellent flavor and texture, but they are shorter and thicker than what you usually see in the grocery store, so to make the cooking time in this recipe work for them, I had to halve or quarter some of them after they were scraped and pared at either end in order to make them cook uniformly.

Each peeled carrot (or half or quarter carrot) was wrapped with a slice of bacon.  Some of the carrots were small enough that only part of a slice was needed.

I then placed them on the top of a broiler pan (this was the first time I had ever used a broiler pan--a distinctly modern cooking utensil--inside a wood cookstove!).  I sprinkled them with a little bit of coarse sea salt and a little freshly ground pepper.  Go easy on the sea salt or feel free to omit it altogether; the bacon has plenty of salt in it.

The next step was to slide the carrots into a hot oven (around 400ºF) and let them roast for about 20 minutes.

Taken at the end of the process, this photo shows
the carrots roasting in the Margin Gem's oven, the
pork roast finishing in the stovetop oven, and the
mashed potatoes boiling over the firebox.

Now, this next part is where I went off script a bit.  We had a "baking for sale" day two weeks ago.  We had enough customers at our local farmers' market who asked us if we would be baking during the off season that we have scheduled one day a month on which I do some custom baking.  One of the most popular items that people request is our sweet rolls, and I had a number of orders for them with caramel pecan topping.

When we turn out a pan of these rolls (we often just call them sticky rolls), we put them onto a cooling rack which has been placed inside a jelly roll pan.  This allows us to catch all of the syrup that runs off the rolls.  All through the summer, we scrape this extra syrup into a sauce pan, save it, and then make it into pancake syrup, which is then water bath canned.

Well, for our baking day in October, we had a lot of pecan roll orders.  We try to make sure that as much of the pecan chunks stay on the rolls as possible, but some invariably land beneath the cooling rack, so my collection of syrup drips was very nutty.  To the saucepan of this mixture of pecan pieces, brown sugar, dark corn syrup, and butter, I added some hot water from the teakettle and brought the whole thing to a boil, stirring occasionally until the syrup no longer had any lumps in it.  When I took it off the fire, I added a little over an 1/8 tsp. of Mapleine.

After the first twenty minutes of roasting time had elapsed, I pulled the broiler pan of bacon-wrapped carrots out of the oven and spooned a little of the hot pecan syrup over each of them, taking care that as many pecan pieces remained on the top of the carrots as possible.

The pan of carrots was returned to the hot oven for another five minutes, at which point I removed it again and spooned onto them what remained of the pecan syrup.  The carrots were returned to the oven for another five minutes, which resulted in the pecans being beautifully toasted.  Of course, the vast majority of the syrup dripped down into the bottom of the broiler pan, but enough remained on the carrots to give them a mildly sweet taste.

With the pork roast and mashed potatoes, these carrots were AWESOME! Really, they were so good that I think they could be made as an hors d'oeuvre.

A scrumptious Sunday dinner.  You can see a jar of my
homemade Heinz ketchup at the top left corner, but everything
was so good that I didn't use any of it.

Now, if you aren't making a boat load of pecan rolls like we are, you could easily make a small batch of my homemade pancake syrup, using all brown sugar and reducing the water a little.  The result would be the same, and you could add a few pecans to it.  You can find that recipe here; just scroll down a little in the post to find it since it is about water bath canning on a wood cookstove.


  1. What a delicious meal! The carrots sound amazing!!
    All that you cook and bake with your stoves is impressive! And using them to bake things to sell seems like something very far out of reach for me right now.
    It finally decided to cool off here in MO and went right to winter. We’re able to use the Qualified range again and, hopefully, become familiar with it. It was very cold today with snow on the ground so I’ve kept it going all day. In spite of that, the oven temperature never went above 300 degrees. That seems to be the hardest part to figure out. How to get the oven temperature up and keep it there. I got out my copy of “The Encyclopedia of Country Living” by Carla Emery hoping to get some tips. I had to laugh when I read this: “Throw away your former standards for baking. Just be grateful if it isn’t raw or burnt.” I love it. (It’s a good thing you put pictures of your baked goods on here because I might become disheartened otherwise.😀)
    Learning when to open and when to close the two side drafts is making a little more sense now.
    Here’s hoping...

    1. Nancy,

      Keep trying! One thing I would say is that I often feel like I manage the fire entirely differently for heating than I do for baking. I might suggest splitting some wood pretty small (pieces not much larger in diameter than a broom handle) and using those to build a hotter fire for baking. If your oven hasn't gotten above 300 degrees yet, you will likely notice a "hot" smell when your fire finally gets the stove temperature high enough to do some serious baking. This will be normal, but remain observant to make sure all is well.

      I'm glad you shared Carla Emery's comment with me. It is funny, but I have to humbly disagree. Goods baked in a wood cookstove are often far superior to those baked in a modern oven; they just demand a different skill set.

      I know you've read great chunks of this blog, but in case you missed it, I did a series of posts about managing fires for baking back in 2013. The link below takes you to the fourth post in the series which might be most helpful to you.

      Best of luck, and keep me posted!

  2. I followed your tips and made biscuits. I easily brought the oven temperature up and held it there and the biscuits were evenly done. I turned them once.
    Reading your post from March 3, 2013 I found the answer to another question. I was wondering if you found it easier to bake in the Margin compared to the Qualified.
    Well, I take back the comment on becoming familiar with the drafts. I started a fire tonight with both side drafts open and the smoke poured out of the top worse than ever. It didn’t stop until I closed both drafts. I just had to sit down and shake my head. I only thought I’d figured it out. There hadn’t been any smoke the last several times I started it. So much to learn.

    1. Wonderful! I bet the biscuits were great. Just think of the wonderful possibilities you've got now!

      Don't despair about the drafts. There are so many variables when operating a wood cookstove. I think weather can have especially significant effects on a chimney's draw when starting the stove.

      It almost sounds like your chimney might have been pretty cold before you started the fire. Sometimes burning a piece or two of crumpled newspaper all by itself in an empty stove is sufficient to push that column of cold air out of the chimney. Once the papers have burned completely, lay your regular fire with kindling and light it and you will have a better initial draft. I have to often do that in the summer kitchen.

      I don't know whether that will help or not, but I know how frustrating it is when your room is filling with smoke and you have to open the window when all you wanted was to be warm!

      So excited that you were able to finally bake in the Qualified, though.

  3. Thankyou for that tip. I’ll definitely try that. It was very cold outside when I lit the fire.
    I also wanted to say that I appreciate you warning me about the hot smell when I was heating up the oven as I would have been concerned had I not known.
    I read in one of your posts that the instructions for the Qualified say to turn the grate to the open side for wood. After reading the part about the different grates in the book, “Woodstove Cookery”, I decided to try the closed side instead. It seemed like I was going through wood quickly and was losing all of my coals. Time may prove otherwise, but it seems to be better now. I found out how to change the grates by accident when I was cleaning the Charter Oak and flipped them over. I’m wondering if you, or anyone else, have any thoughts on this.

    1. Interesting you would say that about the grates! If you click on the Dec. 17, 2014, post with a link to information about cooking with coal and follow the link at the bottom, you will land at a HUMONGOUS discussion forum about burning (and cooking) with coal.

      Anyway, I can't find where the comment was now, but they saw my post about the directions that came with the Qualified, and they disagree with them, believing that the solid side would be better for wood. Do what works best for you. As a general rule of thumb, you won't damage a stove in coal mode if you burn wood, but you could damage a stove in wood mode by burning coal.

      Keep cooking!