Whether stand-alone or integrated into a kitchen, a wood-fired oven is an asset in any outdoor room
Words: Natalie Raad
In addition to entertaining and relaxing, our outdoor rooms are being used more and more for outdoor cooking. Most outdoor rooms come equipped with some form of cooking facility; whether it’s a barbecue, pizza oven or a complete outdoor kitchen, today’s outdoor rooms are being designed so they allow us not only to consume our food outdoors, but also to prepare and cook it outside.
If your outdoor room isn’t big enough to accommodate a complete kitchen setup, or if you want something a bit fancier than just your average humble barbecue, take a look at a wood-fired oven. It makes a great entertaining tool and adds a new dimension to cooking outside. And the beauty of a wood-fired oven is that it is so versatile — you won’t need a conventional oven or barbecue if your outdoor room is equipped with one.
A wood-fired oven can be used to cook virtually anything you would cook in an ordinary oven. The difference is you have the benefit of that authentic wood-fired flavour and all the fun of cooking outside. Everything from roasts, bread, pizzas,vegetables, baked fish or turkey can be cooked in a wood-fired oven. And with the combination of smoking and baking techniques, you can be sure the result will be very flavoursome.
Pizzas are the most popular meal cooked in a wood-fired oven — not surprising when you consider it only takes two or three minutes to cook a pizza to perfection once the oven is at the required temperature. And with pizzas being so easy to prepare, it means you can whip one up for an impromptu lunch or a quick dinner.
For a bit of fun, you could turn making and cooking pizza into something of a party game. Set out the ingredients and let your dinner guests create their own pizza while you sit back with a glass of wine.
Whatever your food preference, be it Italian, Mediterranean or Indian, a wood-fired oven can cater to a wide range of cooking. For an authentic Italian dish, why not roast some eggplant and capsicum in your wood-fired oven to create a fabulous antipasto plate. If Mediterranean food is more your thing, you can cook up some succulent kebabs in your wood-fired oven. Of if you prefer the sweet aromas of Indian food, why not make a tasty Tandoori chicken?
The benefits of a wood-fired oven extend beyond the wide range of foods you can cook and the enjoyment that comes with cooking them. A wood-fired oven doesn’t require the same cleaning and maintenance as a barbecue, and the fire’s glow is mesmerising, adding to the ambience of your outdoor room — essentially making it a talking point for dinner parties.
Most wood-fired ovens are built in and you’ll have to exercise care with placement, design and construction, and with practicalities such as venting. It’s common to have a wood-fired oven integrated into an outdoor kitchen, but you can also have a stand-alone wood-fired oven. These make a great focal point in outdoor rooms and given their size and presence, can be used as the centre around which everything else is positioned.
In addition to built-in wood-fired ovens, you can also buy ovens that are set on wheels or are self-contained and can be placed on a suitable bench surface. The advantage of these is that you can take them with you if you decide to move and because they are mobile, they can be positioned where needed and stored away when not in use.
A wood-fired oven in an outdoor room can be a real asset. Whether you opt for a modular unit or a custom-designed built-in one, you’re sure to benefit from having one as part of your outdoor setting. And in addition to cooking meals and providing an inviting ambience, a wood-fired oven can also be used as a heating solution during the cooler months. What better way to spend a chilly winter’s night than huddled around a wood-fired oven, wine in hand, enjoying a tasty and flavoursome dish?
• You can cook a wide range of foods in a wood-fired oven — everything from pizza, chicken, fish and even desserts.
• A wood-fired oven doesn’t require the same cleaning and maintenance as a barbecue, leaving you with more time to enjoy it.
• The fire’s glow is mesmerising and will add to the ambience of your outdoor room, making it a talking point.