- Food and Cooking»
- Culinary Arts & Cooking Techniques
All About Back Yard, Garden And Patio Chimineas
Buying A Cast Iron Chiminea For Your Back Yard Is A Great Investment
Summer has finally arrived! This is the perfect time of year to relax outside in the cool evening air in front of a warm Chiminea.
A chiminea has a metal body for burning wood and a chimney on top to direct the smoke upward so that it can be used as a heat source on chilly evenings. They stand on legs to keep the main burning body off of the ground and they come in a variety of shapes and sized however, the pot bellied shape is the most popular.
My husband and I love our chiminea and we use it all year round for cooking. In the evenings it's also nice to light with some nice hard wood logs to watch them burn and enjoy the radiating warmth.
In the page below I have outlined all of the different ways that we enjoy our chiminea and why I think that anyone who enjoys spending evenings in their back yard or garden should own one. I have also provided care instructions and accessory suggestions.
Why Buy A Chiminea?
Chimineas are both decorative and functional. They make great patio heaters and you can cook a variety of foods inside of them. People buy chimineas for any combination of these reasons and we enjoy ours for all of them.
I will admit that when my husband first insisted on spending the money on a chiminea 6 years ago I was extremely sceptical. I thought, when will we EVER use that thing? What good is it? Where will we put it? But I came around to his way of thinking when he started using it for cooking. We BBQ year round with our chiminea, it is so handy and it has really grown on me. It's also sort of cute.
Our chiminea is cast iron and it has a swing out (removable) grill which is big enough to cook about four good sized burgers on or two big steaks. It is also wonderful for ambiance and warmth on chilly summer nights when you just want to sit outside and enjoy the evening with a nice cosy log fire.
The last point I think is worth mentioning here is that a cast iron chiminea is built to last. It's heavy and solid. You might think that the price is a little steep up front but it's a purchase that you're going to be enjoying for years and years.
Some Assembly Required
But don't be intimidated, it's really not brain surgery!
This is an ideal chiminea for someone who will be using it primarily for a patio heater. You can still cook In this chiminea however, you'll need to use something like a pie iron to stick inside because it doesn't have a grill. Alternatively you can make foil packets of things to roast inside.
This is a really ornate chiminea which is clearly made to appeal to someone who likes to cook outdoors. It still has the basic parts but it's very fancy and has a PIZZA OVEN on top. So not only does it look awesome but it also has an oven which you can make all sorts of amazing outdoor breads and things in. I would LOVE to get one of these in my garden!!!
What To Burn In A Chiminea
We use charcoal for cooking food and typically hardwood logs when it's burning as a heater.
When it's being used as a heater we have also used compressed peat and recycled compressed wood, which are basically solid blocks of sawdust. These are a bit easier to get inside the chiminea because they're quite small however it's not very difficult to split logs into smaller pieces either and if you love the smell of wood smoke the way I do, it's really worth it.
If you are burning scrap wood or anything that has been treated or painted you can't cook with it. Make sure that it's completely burned out of the chiminea before you use it for cooking food.
Cooking In A Chiminea
As I mentioned previously we use our chiminea for cooking quite often. Having the swing out grill is ideal for this purpose, however I have noticed that this doesn't seem to be a feature that is widely available in the US so you might only be able to find one with a fixed grill. This won't be as convenient but it's still ok.
Basically if there is a grill attached to your chiminea you can use it the same as you would any BBQ. You will have to adjust cooking times slightly to account for the fact that the closed back of the chiminea makes it sort of like an oven so it can get hotter than a normal open grill.
If there isn't a grill in your chiminea you can still cook in it using pie irons which are basically small, double sided cast iron pans at the end of a pole, which you can cook all sorts of delicious things inside of by putting them in the fire. You can also make sealed foil packets of things like new potatoes and garlic butter or corn cobs with butter and seasoning to wedge into the embers for slow cooking veggie deliciousness.
If you need some help getting the creative juices flowing this book is filled with ideas for pie irons. I think my husband and I will be writing one of our own soon enough!
We have one of these. I have to say that I prefer the square and round shapes but I am determined to find a good creative use for this one.
We could really use one of these. What a great bag to store pie irons in so that they're always tidy, clean and accessible!
Foil Packet Veggies
To make a foil packet for roasting potatoes or corn cobs or anything else in you just need to lay out two big sheets of aluminium foil (double layer) then place whatever you're roasting in the middle in an even layer. Sprinkle in your seasoning and distribute slivers of butter and then roll the foil into a packet making sure all edges are crimped firmly closed. DO NOT poke holes in the packet. Then to roast the potatoes just lay the packet on top of your coals or wedge it in the embers for about a half hour.
Beautiful Roasted Garlic Potatoes
15-20 small potatoes
1 tbsp garlic paste
2 tbsp butter or garlic butter for extra pungency
How To Clean The Grill On A Chiminea
You clean the grill on a chiminea the same as you clean any grill. By that I mean, burn off anything that's stuck on and then scrape off the rest.
If the grill comes out easily you could also scrub it in the sink if you want to and If the grill part is not cast iron you could even pop it in an oven bag when you do your oven racks to get it extra clean.
Do not use any chemical cleaners on your grill if it's made of cast iron.
Helpful Accessories And Tools For A Chiminea
I imagine this could be very helpful for someone who doesn't live in the land of constant precipitation. We have never used one ourselves. Cast iron chimineas do rust but the rust is only superficial and we just give ours a fresh coat of paint every year. I don't think that you'll be guaranteed a rust free chiminea even if you use a cover but it does look tidy.
My husband swears by his Chimney Starter. You just load the charcoal in the top and light the bottom, then it smolders away so the charcoal reaches BBQ readiness in just a few minutes instead of it taking half an hour.
This could be useful if you are lighting the chiminea in an area where it might create scorch marks that you actually care about. We have ours sitting on an old cement slab so it's not an issue for us.
This is another tool that my husband swears by. It's great to use when you're lighting hardwood or compressed wood.
The last really useful tool in my husband's BBQ arsenal. It's convenient and reliable. Why use anything else?
BBQ Sword In Action - Roasting a ghost peep!
Fun Novelty Accessories For Your Chiminea
These are a fantastic novelty. I bought my husband two of them years ago because, you can't have just one BBQ sword! Theyr'e ideal for roasting marshmallows and peeps. You can also pop a sausage or hot dog on there as pictured!
Have you ever tried roasting peeps on an open fire? The outside goes crusty, the inside turns to mush and they're fabulous. Since you can acquire these year round, I strongly recommend that you give it a try!!! (Also a great camping activity!)
It's important to note that you should really only use these in a chiminea if you don't use it for cooking because this product consists of little packets full of chemicals to make the colored fire. We have another burning apparatus that we use to burn these.
To use these you just throw them into the (established) fire whole, so that you're not exposing yourself to the contents. My husband enjoys this product because they really do make the fire quite colorful for about 10 minutes or sometimes longer. An amusing novelty!
We have a different looking popcorn popper that we use in the chiminea but it's essentially the same as this one. the top part is just more of a wire cage and the bottom is like a tiny frying pan on a pole. Ours works really well and there is something strangely flavorful and great about popcorn that has come straight out of the fire!
What To Do About Rust On A Chiminea
Cast iron is prone to rust, it's a fact. The metal isn't actually damaged and it's still 100% functional but the rust makes the chiminea look sort of derelict. To correct this you don't need to scrape it, or treat it or do anything that requires a lot of expense or preparation... You just need to give it a coat of paint every year.
We paint our chiminea every spring. The special heat resistant paint is inexpensive and readily available at hardware stores. It is literally, a two minute job to spray it on. After it's painted (as per the instructions on the can) the paint will need to be cured so all you need to do is pop a couple of logs in the chiminea and light them.
So as you can see, it's not a big job to keep your chiminea looking beautiful. The black paint is also great if you see a chiminea that you really like but it has been accented with a bronze color. Ours came that way, I couldn't find it in black. So we made it black!
Paint For Chiminea
This is the sort of paint that you'll be looking for.
Repainted Chiminea - Looks Brand New!
Hubby's BBQ Corner - With newly repainted chiminea lit to cure paint
Here you can see most of our outdoor cooking/burning contraptions. The weird looking thing to the left of the chiminea is a smoker.
So What's This Thing?
If you spotted the cage between the chiminea lid and base you might be wondering what purpose it serves.
It's something my husband made so that he can use the chiminea in the rain and even in the snow. We live in Scotland so we get about four sunny days a year.
If you want to make one for yourself, it is just a baking rack purchased for much cheapness, bent into a cylindrical shape and when used in combination with the lid it stops the water getting in so that you don't have all the smoke billowing out the front.
Simple, efficient, cheap!
And This Is What Happens If You Shove A Bunch Of Sticks Down The Chimney - Probably not the best idea...
All of the photographs within this page were taken by myself and my husband and we do not give permission for them to be used elsewhere.