An April blog featured the Belgard Elements Collection of modular fireplaces, outdoor kitchens, fire pits, and multiple matching accessories. One of the most popular pieces within the collection is the Chicago Brick Oven. This unique focal point is a natural addition to any Belgard outdoor kitchen. Featured in the media across the country, and showcased on the Today show with Chef Mario Batali, the brick oven craze has only just begun.
Partnered with the Belgard Elements Collection, the wood-burning Chicago Brick Brick Oven comes ready to install. Or, create a custom look for your Brick Oven with Belgard walls. All ovens are built with a flue for ventilation, so placement should be considered. An Authorized Belgard Contractor can assist you through the entire process. Chicago Brick Oven president Bill Paschen says, “The ovens come in various sizes. If you entertain, consider the largest oven. You will not be displeased.”
Paschen adds, “When I searched for a brick oven for my home, 99% were made overseas, which added huge freight and duty costs. So, I created my own. We offer a variety of sizes, so if you entertain, consider the largest oven. You won’t be disappointed”
It is important to note that along with Belgard Elements, the Chicago Brick Oven is made in the USA.
The beauty of using Belgard’s Elements and the Chicago Brick Oven are that all items coordinate and the oven’s installation consists of only two modular pieces: the oven and the supporting wood box. Each item is delivered and placed on your pre-poured foundation. Once installed, build a few small fires to cure the oven, and you are ready to create mouth-watering masterpieces. The ovens can be enjoyed all year-long and, along with all the Elements components, are designed to be weather resistant.
Maintenance is simple: just brush out ash and crumbs when done. There are two doors, one for decoration to keep out the weather and one insulated to control the oven temperature, especially for baking. Preheating is also simple. Most recipes call for the oven temperature to be over 400 degrees, which takes about an hour to heat. Once it’s hot, you can use the oven for hours.
The type of wood used is extremely important, and the user guide will give directions. When buying, ask for wood that’s been aged for about two years, or that has less than 25% moisture content. Soft woods are easy to light, but they produce less heat than hardwoods. Trying different varieties of aromatic, flavored woods will give different foods unique flavors.
Not only does the oven give food an authentic taste, it provides an opportunity to create an culinary outdoor experience. Not only can you can bake a pizza in a minutes, but the ovens are just as well suited for cooking an entire meal. A few items finding their way into the oven are stuffed turkeys, calzones, vegetables, pasta dishes, stuffed peppers, kabobs, whole chickens in a salt crust, ribs, cedar plank cooked fish, paella, baked apples, dessert pizzas, and various breads such as flat bread, focaccia, cibatta, and pita. Bill Paschen recommends his favorite recipe of stuffed jalapeno peppers.
Recipes are as numerous as the chefs who use the Chicago Brick Oven from numerous Iron Chef contestants to TV chef and celebrities. World-renown Chef Mario Batali has his own line of wood-burning ovens which integrate with Belgard Elements.
Fresh vegetables are making their debut all around the country. This simple and delicious recipe can be used with yellow squash too. Great cooked in the Chicago Brick Oven. Use it as a side for fish, meat or chicken. Or, you can cut the zucchini into thick strips, grill then marinade – remember non-stick spray or a vegetable grilling basket. If you don’t have a grill, you can use your oven’s broiler. Just keep an eye on them so they don’t burn and remember to broil both sides. People will want to know how you made this tasty dish!
- 2 1/2 pounds zucchini
- 4 fluid ounces extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
6-8 mint leaves (optional)
Preheat your Chicago Brick Oven oven as instructed in the User’s Manual. When cooking, oven should be about 400°F to 425°F.
In small sauce pan, bring 1 cup of balsamic vinegar to a boil and boil over high heat until reduced by half. Cool and set aside.
Wash and dry zucchini, trim ends, then slice into 3/8-inch thick rounds. Place zucchini in a large bowl and add oil, garlic, salt and crushed red pepper. Toss well. Arrange zucchini slices in a single layer on a large baking sheet and roast until the edges start to brown; about 20 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet at room temperature. Place zucchini on a serving platter. Drizzle with the balsamic reduction and decorate with mint leaves.
Have you noticed signs about upcoming Home and Garden shows? Then you know Spring is here! Although the Northeast may have had a blistery April Fool’s Day, it is time to till the garden. Belgard has been the feature at many of the country’s largest shows. Below is a sample of the top of the line displays created for homeowners to be inspired. Double click on any photo to enlarge. Don’t forget to visit our website for inspiration.
Virginia Mid-Atlantic Show
Belgard’s Elements outdoor kitchen area was the main showcase. With a variety of Belgard pavers, including Old World and Arbel® Stone, plus Celtik® Wall and BelAir Wall® creating seating, and integrated lighting, you felt as though you were outdoors. You will see how Belgard pavers, plus an Elements Bristol Collection kitchen and fire place, work together. The complete look is fabulous.
Southern Spring Home & Garden Show, Charlotte, NC
The Southern Spring Home and Garden Show featured a stroll through “Belgard Gardens.” Within the Park Expo Center, a true romantic presence was felt. A circular path of Belgard’s Arbel Stone pavers and a seat wall from the double-sided Weston Collection invited you to linger. Lighting installed directly into the walls gave the beautiful landscaping a fairytale feel as well as its functional purpose, to light the path.
Mixing the paver products of Arbel and Lafitt pavers, allows two paths to come together in a carpet-like manner. One leads off through a castle gate towards a Belgard free standing Belair Wall®. Many design tips can be collected from this amazing display.
Southern Ideal Home Show, Greensboro, NC
Belgard’s Mobile Show Room parked outside the Southern Ideal Home Show. Visitors were welcomed by the Elements Bristol Collection and its unlimited possibilities of matching seat walls, cabinets, kitchens, and more.
Inside the show, Belgard Arbel® Stone pavers created a handsome flooring and Weston Wall™ created convenient seating, column and fire pit. Adding one (or more) of these features completes a backyard so the outdoor enjoyment continues throughout the year.
Rochester Home Show
The Rochester Home Show set up a Chicago Brick Oven and Element Bristol Collection full kitchen display with seat walls. The back of the kitchen and brick oven are as handsome as the front. You might consider planting a vegetable or herb garden. Pull off some fresh basil leaves and add to your homemade pizza!
This kitchen features a MediumRare grill, stainless steel cabinets, a cocktail station, bar, sink, and electricity – all part of Belgard’s Elements. The Bristol collection uses a granite counter top, edging of Dublin cobble, and Urbana banding. With Belgard, the attention to detail is impeccable. Using Elements, your outdoor kitchen planning is a snap, and it installs within a day or two.
The area also included an Elements Brighton fireplace with water features and matching seat walls. It coordinated with Arbel® Stone pavers in a circular fashion which delineates the outdoor living space. The dining area features Lafitt pavers and a Weston wall to add seating and separation.
Milwaukee Realtor Show
This show took Belgard’s BelAir Wall™ and created a fabulous outdoor bedroom with built-in lighting! Notice the head and foot boards created from the Arbel® Stone Collection. The outdoor bath tub was a must-see. The look was completed with Belgard’s environmental line of permeable pavers from the Subterra® collection. Permeable pavers allow rainwater to be absorbed by the ground where nature filters the water, instead of becoming runoff.
Spring naturally brings people back outdoors, with friends and neighbors gathering in the backyard more frequently as the weather warms. Belgard offers you the opportunity to be the neighborhood house that’s always “prepared for company.” Adding outdoor living spaces, such as an outdoor kitchen, outdoor bar, water feature, or a fireplace creates a naturally appealing gathering place. Yet, to build these features from scratch can be laborious and time consuming.
With that consideration in mind, Belgard has partnered with Harmony Outdoor Living, Inc. to offer the Elements Collections. Each item is modular, uses Belgard products and arrives ready to be installed. Most installations are done in one day! With five collections, and multiple color options, there’s a style to coordinate with any architectural look.
“Whether it is the entry level Brighton collection or our top of the line series, all Elements are build to the same exacting standards and carry the Belgard lifetime warranty,” states Joe Raboine, President of Harmony Outdoor Living.
How do I decide
It’s a judgment call in most cases. “Considering the home’s architectural style is important, as is color. When in doubt, keep it neutral,” suggests Raboine.
Look at your area – measure and layout the available space on graph paper. Cut out pieces representing the features you are considering. Don’t forget to add furniture and leave ample space for walking. Rule of thumb is to leave four feet of space around all cooking features. At this stage, consider contacting a Belgard Authorized Contractor who can create a 3D scale model.
What do I need
The beauty of the Elements collection is they’re designed to coordinate with Belgard pavers. For a complete look, consider the backyard as a whole – this could be the right time to install pavers as well. At a minimum, it is recommended pouring at least a concrete base for all features, which allows for easier installation. The Elements Collections are designed to be buried four inches below the finished pavement. “This is specially important when installing the kitchen and bar units, which would be too high otherwise,” Raboine points out. Natural gas, propane and wood options are available. Most important, be sure to check your local building codes first.
What are the options
The Elements Collection offers a wide range of options – from complete kitchen islands to simple grill combination to fire pits and fire tables. Plus, there are accents galore! Collections can be accentuated with wood boxes, a hearth, seating walls, planters, lighting pillars, a mailbox, water features, and the popular Chicago Brick Oven. “And don’t overlook lighting,” Raboine is quick to add. “If you skimp on lighting, you will be very disappointed and it’s difficult to retrofit after the fact.”
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Examples from various collections: