If you would have asked me two years ago to cook a meal to feed my family using only the wood stove, I likely would have busted out the hot dogs. If I was ambitious, maybe some burgers and a can of beans. Now, I can cook just about anything on top of our little old-wood stove and I have actually grown to prefer it. I have definitely found some easy meals over time and I’m here to share!
What to Cook on a Wood Stove
- Bear Tor-ghetti is what the kids are calling it. Truly, it’s all the ingredients of spaghetti with frozen tortellini instead of spaghetti noodles. I love cooking this one to feed a bunch of people and generally have everything on hand between my canned goods and wild game. We love spaghetti but I try to avoid boiling pasta on the woodstove if I can help it. I will use a Dutch oven to cook up the meat and onion. Then, I will add in any canned tomato products I have, some beef broth, spices, and the tortellini, and then put a lid on it until the pasta is cooked. So easy!
- Chicken thighs in the Dutch oven. A friend told me there is actually a fancy term for cooking meat in its own fat and grease but I truly had no idea. Let me tell you, this makes some delicious, fall-off-the-bone chicken. I start by adding a bit of oil to the cast iron to prevent sticking, let it heat up, and add in the chicken thighs with some seasonings. Cover and let it bake until it reaches temperature. I told you it was easy.
- Shepherds Pie. I talk about this one, a lot. Check out the full recipe. The only difference with wood stove cooking is that I will usually cook up some extra baked potatoes the night before to use on the pie. Cooking on the woodstove generally takes more time so the better you plan, the more enjoyable it’ll be!
- Sausages. We love bear sausages and usually have an abundance of them. My preferred way to cook them on the stove is to boil them in a shallow cast-iron pan until cooked. Once they hit 165F (for bear) I drain the water and fry them lightly, just enough to brown them. Often I’ll add in some peppers and onions as well. With no running water, I am all about one-pan meals and limited dishes!
- Soups. Any soup. Is there anything better than coming inside from being out in the cold to a ready-to-eat meal? My only suggestion is that if you intend to let it simmer all day is to make sure you have enough liquid that it won’t dry out. Also, use a metal trivet to have an air gap between your pot and the stove surface. Otherwise, you’ll be cleaning the burnt soup from the bottom for days.
Basically, you can cook anything and everything on your wood-burning stove. There is absolutely some trial and error involved but it is well worth the try! Cast iron is your friend. More often than not, I lay the pan directly on the woodstove but be sure to use cooking oil and keep an eye on it to prevent sticking or burning. A well-seasoned cast-iron pan is essential.
Cooking on the wood stove has its challenges but the more you practice, the easier it becomes. Unlike a modern stove, you don’t have as much control over the heat, so getting your fire burning just right is half the battle. I control this by adjusting the draft which will cause the fire to burn hotter, allowing more air through. If I need to simmer, I will place a trivet under my pan to allow an air gap. The heat will still reach your dish but you won’t have that direct heat on the pan’s surface.
Another trick I have discovered for baking or when cooking something like a chicken pot pie or even a pizza is to create an “oven.” You can do that by placing your pan on your trivet and then turning another larger deep pan or Dutch oven over top. This will trap the heat that will inevitably rise, creating a little oven!
For most, this skill won’t come into play very often, if ever. Modern technologies have robbed us of these simple pleasures and I am truly thankful to have had to learn. You just never know when you may find yourself without hydro or needing an alternative cooking method. I know, that no matter where this life takes me I’ll be thankful for this learning opportunity.