With temperatures hovering in the negative and single digits I am glad to finally have our wood stove hooked up! Not only does it add a cozy ambiance to the house, it’s also reassuring that should the power go out we wouldn’t freeze to death, and it’s saving us money by using less propane to heat our house and when preparing our meals. Since the stove is burning all day anyway it’s easy enough to place a cast iron pan on top and cook a meal, or three.
I have found that generally anything I’d cook or reheat on the stove top will cook just as well on the wood stove. Some meals we have enjoyed off the wood stove are: eggs in a nest, pancakes, any kind of soup, mac n’ cheese, burritos, grilled cheese, etc. Depending on how hot the wood stove is it may take a little longer or a little less time than using the gas range would. It’s important to keep an eye on the level of liquids, and if you are adding milk, cream, or cheese (for example to soup or mac n’ cheese) be careful the stove is not so hot as to break (curdle) the dairy product. Removing the pot from the stove or raising it with a cast iron trivet or on canning lids can help prevent overheating. I have also prepared some things I’d normally make in the oven by using a dutch oven. The easiest and most delicious of these is a pot roast. After the roast spends the day slowing cooking over the fire the roast is always fall-apart-tender and the broth cooks down into a delicious gravy. Add some potatoes and carrots towards the end and a full meal is ready – and the house smells great.
For your enjoyment here is Alton Brown’s stove top Mac n’ cheese recipe (reproduced below). It’s prepared essentially the same on the range or on the wood stove. First prepare the pasta then add the butter, sauce and cheese. I remove the pot from the wood stove when adding the sauce and cheese. The pot I use stays hot enough to heat the sauce and melt the cheese and this way the mac n’ cheese stays creamy and doesn’t break as mentioned above. If you don’t want to use, or don’t have, evaporated milk you can gently simmer 2 1/4 cups milk down to 1 cup of milk, or use 3/4 cup whole milk and 1/4 cup half and half, or substitute light cream.
Alton Brown’s Stove Top Mac n’ Cheese
4 tablespoons butter
6 ounces evaporated milk
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
fresh black pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
10 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
In a large pot of boiling, salted water cook the pasta to al dente and drain. Return to the pot and melt in the butter. Toss to coat.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, hot sauce, salt, pepper, and mustard. Stir into the pasta and add the cheese. Over low heat continue to stir for 3 minutes or until creamy.