Charcoal ovens, all about an essential of today's gastronomy
Grilled cuisine is booming. We see it daily, not only in the menus of traditional restaurants in our cities and towns, but also in the haute cuisine menus of the most famous restaurants in the main capitals of the world: incredible dishes prepared, in an ancestral way, with the grill of charcoal. But what is the cause of this trend in gastronomy? Undoubtedly, the Spanish invention that makes it possible to have closed grills inside restaurant kitchens, and even in private homes, that prevent the room from filling with smoke: charcoal ovens.
Charcoal Ovens - HJX Pro Models
Charcoal Ovens - HJA Models
What is the origin of charcoal ovens?
For some newcomers it might seem incredible that charcoal ovens did not exist until a few decades ago. Indeed, the first charcoal oven in history was created in 1969, a brilliant idea by Pere Juli and Josep Armangué, who in their Mas Pi restaurant, in Pineda de Mar, Barcelona, developed an idea that was on their minds for some time now: grilling indoors, at the highest possible temperature, to prepare great dishes: thus, regulating the air currents, one at the bottom for the air to enter and another at the top for the exit from the smoke and gases produced by the combustion, they managed to create the first charcoal oven in history. An easy-to-handle central door would ensure that the aromas were not lost and would allow turning and viewing the cooking of the food inside. The first patented charcoal oven in the world is born, it is of 100% Spanish origin and is designed for kitchen professionals. What brand would you put on it? Josep and Pere will join their names to finally call their great invention Josper.
What are charcoal ovens?
It is a grill and oven in a single piece of equipment: indeed, to summarize what a charcoal oven is, it is an oven and a grill in a single piece of equipment, which works with the best charcoal, saving consumption by 40% compared to to the open grills, and elaborated for professionals.
A fusion of craftsmanship and technology at the service of haute cuisine, with really simple operation. The charcoal oven is made with the best technology steel alloy, and it has to be that way because it will have to withstand continuous operation at average temperatures of the order of 300 to 350 °C. Almost nothing. That temperature will make the food cook evenly.
How are the raw materials in a charcoal oven?
Food prepared on the grill in a charcoal oven will be cooked in a regular way, being braised, roasted and smoked at the same time, and avoiding cooking, thus preserving all the juiciness. The high temperatures reached in a charcoal oven make the food close its pores, sealing them, thus retaining their essences and flavours, and in turn acquiring an unmistakable texture, much sought after by gourmets around the world. The final juiciness makes the difference. Charcoal ovens also give the products a unique flavor and aroma, that of embers, which everyone likes so much.
Who should have charcoal ovens?
Nowadays, any restaurant in the HORECA sector, whether they are brasseries, steak houses, tapas bars, bistros, cafes or more traditional restaurants should have charcoal ovens. In fact, there are different models and sizes of charcoal ovens for each of them, from charcoal ovens for restaurants where large banquets are held and large production is needed, to small catering services, where pampering the product for a few diners is fundamental in its philosophy. There are charcoal ovens for everyone. Soon, Josper will even launch a range for homes.
What is the best charcoal for a charcoal oven?
Charcoal ovens will need the best energy, and this is provided by charcoal from the best woods, from traditional oak wood, through vine wood and vine shoots, or white quebracho, binchotan…. It is It is true that if you want to achieve perfectly prepared dishes, you will have to use charcoal with a high calorific value and with a long duration, which will undoubtedly affect the cooking time. In addition, the origin of the wood will affect the aroma of the best charcoal, without a doubt. Now, in these times it is not enough simply to provide the best charcoal to make the embers: we have the obligation that, in addition, the charcoal will have to be of sustainable origin, and that is why we recommend from here the use of charcoal and local wood from controlled forests. To do this, the coals must have a series of official certificates that ensure that their origin ensures sustainable management of natural resources, adding differential value and promoting the maintenance of our forests. Thus, the answer to the question, what is the best charcoal for charcoal ovens? The answer is any charcoal with a high calorific power, long duration and great aroma, and also of controlled origin, and with a sustainability certificate.
What are the best types of charcoal?
Among the ideal types of charcoal for charcoal ovens we can mention:
–Oak wood charcoal: an ideal charcoal for charcoal ovens, with a special aroma and very little spark and, above all, high calorific value. It must be ecological, from controlled pruning.
–Marabu wood charcoal (and marabu charcoal): it has excellent calorific qualities, as well as not producing a spark, and is long-lasting compared to other softer and semi-hard woods. With a uniform color, with the characteristic “canutillo” shape and a pronounced metallic sound when burning. The combustion is very slow, which makes it especially recommendable. In addition, its pleasant aroma makes it very suitable for white-fleshed fish and vegetables.
–White quebracho charcoal: this charcoal originates from subtropical areas. The main characteristic is that its wood is very hard, consistent and heavy (wood with a fine grain). Thanks to these characteristics it can last much longer burning, so the yield compared to softwood coals is twice as high. It produces very little spark. Another important feature is its characteristic aroma, very pleasant, which makes it ideal for cooking all types of meat and red-fleshed fish.
–Binchotan charcoal (eucalyptus and lychee): Japanese charcoal with binchotan designation of origin, also called white eucalyptus or lychee charcoal, is a very high quality charcoal. It has a special manufacturing process, carried out at low temperature, resulting in a coal of high calorific value and lower odor emission compared to other coals. This coal has been, for centuries, the most ecological alternative.
Firewood and vine shoots: ideally from pruning in wine-growing regions. During growth, the vine deepens its roots, thus absorbing as many earthy tones as possible. This is how vine wood becomes an excellent aromatic firewood. This type of firewood has a slow ignition, but with a great aromatic power, and is considered perfect for flavoring any type of product in any ember. Çfor its part, the vine shoot is composed of the thinnest wood of the vine wood, it becomes a perfect aromatizing tool.
–Compact briquettes charcoal: it is important that they do not contain any kind of agglomerate. Sawdust is dried to 10% humidity and then compacted to form briquettes. It agglomerates only with the humidity and the wood’s own lignin, which work as natural glue, compacting very well in the ember, thanks to its slow combustion, providing a great caloric and work performance.
In general, semi-hard wood charcoal of vegetable origin must have a high percentage of carbon so that they are easy to ignite and at the same time have a high calorific value.
In summary, coals should have the main characteristic of being certified by the Forest Stewardship council® FSC®, whose objective is “To promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world’s forests”. FSC® certification is also used to demonstrate sustainable forest management.
Who uses charcoal ovens?
Every day more people, without a doubt, and, curiously, both the most traditional and the most innovative chefs. Because the future of cooking will always be rooted in tradition. And it is that grilled cooking is more than tradition: it is the primitive, the ancestral, the origin of the cooking of food. Thus, chefs from Heston Blumenthal in Knightsbridge, through Albert Adrià (at Tickets, Barcelona), Gastón Acurio (at La Gare, Paris, Alex Atala (at D.O.M., Sao Paulo), Raphael Duntoye (Le Petit Maison, London) or Gilles Goujon (at Auberge du Vieux Puits, Aude), to name just five, prepare their dishes in specific charcoal ovens for their premises and their ability.