Firing up the Ironheart: The first woodstove meal of the year

Beef stew with Guinness

It’s official, Ironheart weather is here (that’s woodstove weather, if you’re not familiar with this particular British export). We’ve had a couple of burns already this year, and yesterday I cooked our first meal of the season in the stove.

Jamie Oliver’s Beef & Ale Stew, which lends itself beautifully to a slow cook in the Ironheart, stretched over about three hours. A 350-degree conventional oven works fine too (and is what Oliver created his recipe for).

The recipe calls for stout or Guinness, and I’ve always used Guinness and love its particular flavour. The only modification I make is to add some spuds, as I can’t imagine a beef stew without potatoes (though Oliver seems particularly inclined to beef stews which include everything but).

Yesterday’s burn only used one log and kept this dish near the low end of the “Very Hot” range on our dial for the period required to cook this dish.

Wood burning season means that hanging out in front of the woodstove once again becomes a favoured activity, and no one does this better than our dog, Reggie.

Dog lying in front of woodstove

12 thoughts on “Firing up the Ironheart: The first woodstove meal of the year

  1. It’s been a while since I’ve seen a Reggie picture – he’s looking very dapper, I must say. That stew looks perfect for the season. I’ve noticed the lack of spuds in Jamie’s stews too, I think he must have them as a side dish, or perhaps he goes for bread or dumplings or something.

    You’ve probably mentioned it in the past, but I’ll ask anyway: do you heat the house with the Ironheart? The post you’ve linked to says you only need a cord of wood to get through your Ontario winter, while my father in law in New Brunswick used to ensure he had 6 cords in the shed, though he only went through 4 as a rule…and that was with supplementary electric baseboards.

    1. Reggie is, as always, very grateful for nice compliment! I think he’d have loved some of the stew, but was happy just to soak up the warmth from the stove.

      On the Ironheart: for us one cord is possible to heat most of our house thanks to the fact that it’s Insulated Concrete Form construction. It hangs onto any heat put into it extremely well. The ‘most’ of our house is the entire ground floor (sq. footage of 1,580), though we do choose to keep the bedrooms cooler easily by keeping the door to that part of the ground floor closed. We don’t manage to get as much heat as we’d like down to our lower level (where our office, a playroom/guest room, laundry room and a mechanical room are), and tend to supplement down there with a space heater (mainly just in the office where we spend much of the weekdays). When we built the house, we were not informed well enough of just what an amazing combination ICF and an Ironheart (or another extremely efficient woodstove) would be, and we put in a natural gas furnace. We use it from time to time to heat up the lower level of the house, but it’s minimal compared to how we thought we’d use it. If only we knew…anyway, we’re still considering how best to get more of the heat that Ironheart produces upstairs to the lower level, so that one day we can forget completely about the furnace. (We also occasionally daydream about building another house with the knowledge that we now have!)

  2. It must be nice to feel the Ironheart’s warmth and hear the wood crackling for the first time of the season. Yes, the novelty will wear off as the need becomes more and more apparent but let’s cross that bridge when we get there. 🙂

    1. There is truly nothing nicer, it’s that primeval attraction to fire and the radiant heat (and safety) it’s always provided to humans. I like your philosophy around the novelty factor, John!

  3. I just love wood heat. We got to fire up our wood stove this evening. It’s been raining heavily all day, so it’s nice to get our clothes dried off when we come in. It’s good to see Reggie again…in front of the stove is the perfect place to be, inhaling the lovely aroma of a beef stew. I hope he gets some leftovers. 🙂

    1. It’s always great to hear about others’ experience of life with a woodstove. Sounds like you had the perfect day to settle in front of your own. Reggie appreciates the vote for leftovers – he agrees!

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