Congratulations! You've finally purchased your Chicago Brick Oven, and you are ready to get cooking... Before you build your first cooking fire, it is very important to "cure" your new oven to remove any trace moisture that might be left in it from the manufacturing process. This is a fairly simple, but extremely important step to ensure long life from your oven. The procedure is the same whether you are curing an Amici, an Etna, or a custom installed bundle. You will only have to do this once...
Your "curing fire" needs to be started slowly, and be a long burning fire that stays at a relatively low temperature (no hotter than 212 degrees) in order to heat the moisture out of the refractory grade concrete, but not make it so hot that the concrete cracks. Chicago Brick Ovens are reinforced with stainless steel fibers mixed right into the cement, so small cracks won't hurt, but you are trying to avoid big Liberty-Bell-sized cracks that will affect the oven's performance and life.
Probably the easiest way to maintain a low, slow burning fire is to use regular charcoal. One 15 pound bag of charcoal is just about the right amount. To properly cure your oven, start as much charcoal as will fit in a standard chimney starter until the charcoal is nice and hot. Spread the charcoal evenly around the floor of your new oven, and allow the charcoal to burn until it goes out, then repeat this process until the whole bag of charcoal is gone. You can do this over the course of two or three days if that is more convenient. That's all there is too it! Clean out the ashes from the charcoal, and you're ready to cook!
This process will release any moisture that might be left in the oven. The only time that you might want to repeat this process is if you let your oven sit unused for an extended period of time (many months or more). We are pretty confident that this won't happen, though, because once you have experienced the fun of cooking in one of these ovens and the wonderful taste of the food that comes out, you will be be cooking VERY regularly and often!
Ok, so now you've cured your oven...what to cook? Most people start with pizzas, but very quickly move on to many other recipes. Subscribe to out blog to get recipes that we cook on our Chicago Brick Oven.. Coming soon: Blackened Georges Bank Scallops, Herb Roasted Pork Tenderloin, Fire Roasted Asparagus with Toasted Almonds, and Roasted Fingerling Potatoes with Shallots and Fresh Tarragon. Bon Appetit!
Click on the video below to see Carm Parisi (owner of Chicago Brick Oven), demonstrate this oven curing technique. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ybx98volOKw