Hearth Baked Potatoes

by Bri on December 28, 2007

Wood Stove

The wood stove with a cast iron bowl on top to help humidify the room.

A few years back, Marc’s mom and step dad decided to buy a used wood stove that sits just outside the fireplace. It’s heat is far more efficient than the fireplace. Their winter electricity bill went way down since they didn’t have to rely on the dry forced hot air of central heating. We all love the wood stove. They use these compressed logs that are made purely of sawdust (no fillers or anything) and burn hot and clean.

When Marc and I have been on camping trips, we’ve put potatoes wrapped in foil in the coals and it’s one of the tastiest ways to make them. The potatoes get a smoky flavor that just can’t be reproduced in a modern day oven. So, a couple weeks ago, we thought, if the wood stove is already hot, why waste natural gas by making baked potatoes in the oven? We’ve baked potatoes in the wood stove a couple times now, with great success. The skins come out crisped and the flesh is so much more tender and flavorful than I can describe. I highly recommend you try it out if you use fire to heat your house (or you plan on going camping sometime).

Potatoes in Wood Stove

In the front are a couple foil wrapped hot potatoes just begging to be smothered in butter and sour cream.

Here are our tips for the best baked potatoes you’ll ever taste:

1) Thoroughly wash the potatoes first, so you can eat the skin (and if you are going to eat the skin, another good reason to buy organic).
2) Lube them up with a little olive oil so the skin gets crispy when it bakes.
3) Poke a few holes in them so they don’t explode (seriously, the water in the potato expands as it turns to steam and kablooey, if it doesn’t have a way to escape).
4) Wrap them tightly and completely in foil.
5) Put them in your fireplace/campfire/wood stove in the heat, but not the flames, so they don’t just burn right off the bat. It works best with a lot of hot coals.
6) Rotate them about every 20 minutes, so that all sides get hot, and if you have multiple potatoes, all of them get a chance to be close to the heat.
7) Give them a squeeze every time you rotate them, since they can go from underdone to burnt pretty quickly. This is a different kind of heat than the more predictable gas or electric oven.

Depending on the size of your potatoes, how hot your fire is, and whether or not the heat is contained, your potatoes should be ready in about an hour (give or take maybe 15 minutes). If you have some of those obscene football-sized potatoes, all bets are off, I don’t know how long it will take.

While they are baking, get all your favorite fixin’s together: caramelized onion, chives, smoked cheddar, seared mushrooms, sour cream, butter, salt, pepper…did I miss any of your favorites? Anyway, it’s a great hearty dish, that’s just perfect if you already have the fire going, to warm those tootsies.

(ed. note: follow-up post on hearth baked potatoes here)

Hearth Potatoes

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Jules December 28, 2007 at 2:18 pm

We have an open fire and will certainly be trying these.

cookiecrumb December 28, 2007 at 3:32 pm

Bacon! You forgot bacon!
That looks good. I’m doing it. Thanks for all the tips.

Bri December 28, 2007 at 4:06 pm

Jules – Great! I HIGHLY recommend it. Such a treat! Keep me posted if you do it. I would love to know what you experience.

Cookiecrumb – Eh hem, I didn’t FORGET bacon. This is a vegetarian blog, silly 🙂
Maybe some veg bacon for me, and bacon bacon for you. I haven’t had bacon in years, but I do remember it was quite good with potatoes. Let me know if you make them. Thanks for stopping by. Great to see you.

manggy December 28, 2007 at 7:12 pm

Well, you did miss one of my obvious favorites, but I won’t take it against you, haha 🙂 (yeah, it is bacon too.) This looks fantastic Bri! Although it’ll never be cold enough to warrant a roaring fire 🙂

Tartelette December 28, 2007 at 8:12 pm

As an all potato girl,my favorite way to have them is cooked in the ash. Just wash them, no foil and roasted slowly in the ash. The best flavor ever!
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go dig a hole in the garden and make a fire!!
Hope you had a great Christmas!

gigi December 28, 2007 at 10:11 pm

hi bri,

this sounds awesome! i have fond memories of potato night and haven’t cracked open the fireplace yet this year… this will be a nice way to start the new year!

p.s. everything tastes better with bacon. 😀

Graeme December 29, 2007 at 4:22 pm

The perfect baked potato, Bri. My mouth is watering.
Great job.

Curt December 29, 2007 at 10:32 pm

I agree with the no foil, and I do mine on the grill (no fireplace)… But I love potatoes and onions done this way.

Bri December 29, 2007 at 11:31 pm

Manggy – You know, when I was writing this post, I seriously thought that this would be something you wouldn’t experience unless you took some ski vacation somewhere. But why you’d want to leave the tropics…I don’t know. 🙂

Tartelette – Without the foil, huh? I’m a little skeptical, but I know you wouldn’t lead me astray, culinarily speaking. I did have a good Christmas, thanks!

Gigi – Great to see you! What is it with all of you and bacon!?!? Although, I have heard that bacon has been the downfall of many a vegetarian and Jew. So far, I’ve been able to resist it’s siren song. Well, whatever the impetus, glad to have “stoked” your desire for some hot potatoes.

Graeme – Thanks! I bet it’s cold enough where you are. You could make one for yourself, and one for Manggy. 🙂

Curt – Yum! On the Grill! Everything tastes better on the grill. Especially when you include caramelized onions. Thanks for stopping by!

Susan from Food Blogga December 31, 2007 at 5:55 pm

Ooh, your way is much more exciting than programming in “400 degrees” on my stove and waiting for it to heat up. Thanks for the tips; I’ll be sure to try them.

Bri December 31, 2007 at 8:32 pm

Susan – I agree! Way more exciting! Thanks for stopping by.

Leah December 14, 2009 at 10:26 am

Thank you for posting this! We’ve got a wood stove and I told my fiance that we should do ours like this for dinner and he laughed at me! Then I told my family my idea and they laughed too! *sigh* Bunch of boring people… 🙂 Anyway, I want them to turn out perfectly so I can be like “ha! Told you so!” and I wasn’t sure exactly how to go about it! So…Thank you!

Marc December 14, 2009 at 10:37 am

Leah – It is funny that your family laughs at the idea of cooking food this way. People have cooked with open flames for thousands of years. The modern oven is the relative newcomer. Try it out yourself and let us know what you think.

Kristi November 21, 2011 at 6:40 pm

After seeing this post I decided to make sweet potatoes in my wood burning stove. Worked like a charm! Scrubbed the potatoes, pricked them with a fork, rubbed them in olive oil and wrapped them in two layers of heavy duty aluminum foil. I leaned the prepared potatoes up against the brick inside the stove and not on top of any embers. After about half an hour I flipped them and let them bake another half hour. The were delicious! Nice way to heat the house and cook sweet potatoes.

Cynthe November 21, 2011 at 9:43 pm

Kristi ~ Glad you gave this technique a try with such yummy success! We love cooler temps as an excuse to burn our woodstove, which we much prefer to running the gas heater. Thanks for letting us know how your experiment turned out.

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