Cooking in a Chiminea

Cooking – Not For All Chimineas
It is possible to cook in a chiminea, but not all models and materials are recommended for use in cooking. Although the chiminea in Mexico was originally developed as an oven, many models today are built to lower standards for decorative purposes only.

Most clay chimineas that you buy in home and garden stores are intended for decoration only, and should not be used for cooking. There is a high danger that if they are used as a cooking instrument, the clay will shatter, causing a huge mess and even injury to the cook and to your guests.

Cooking on a painted chiminea is another major health risk. The paints used can be toxic, and may release dangerous fumes which can taint your food and threaten your guests.

Unpainted cast iron, aluminum, ceramic, and natural stone chimineas can often be used as cooking implements. However, before doing so you should read your owner’s manual to be sure that cooking is recommended.

Some chimineas are specially designed for use in cooking, and these are the safest to use as grills.

Before You Cook with a Chiminea
Even if your model of chiminea is recommended for cooking, it’s a good idea not to have a barbeque on the same day that you take it out of the box. Chimineas should be seasoned with small, cool fires before reaching the temperatures required for cooking. A few seasoning fires will harden your chiminea and make your food taste better.

Cooking Ideas for the Chiminea

• Chimineas do not typically get very hot, so roasts and other large meats might be out of the question. However, you can slice meats and vegetables, place them in a heat-proof container, and set them with some liquid and spices amidst the coals to slow cook.

• Wrapping potatoes and other vegetables in aluminum foil and setting them among the coals is another great way to cook in a chiminea.

• You can also remove the chimney (being sure only to do this while cool, if you have a cast iron chiminea, which can become very hot) and place a grill over the opening. In this manner, you can barbeque meats, sausages, seafood, and vegetables.

• Using sticks or long metal skewers, you can roast marshmallows or sausages in the opening of the chiminea.

• Some chimineas have cooking racks that can be used to bake bread or rolls.

By following these tips, you can discover whether your chiminea is safe to use for cooking, and create fun and delicious quick meals on your patio. Gathering around a chiminea is even more fun if you and your guests can enjoy a meal or the delicious taste of roast marshmallows while doing it.

Benni Jenyfari is a freelance author for Only Cookware and the Outdoor Heating Guide providing unbiased information and advice to help consumers with buying cookware sets and chiminea online.