In the past few years I’ve been moving away from seeing pizza as junk food towards seeing it as another food that is sometimes made with care, skill, and love and sometimes make in a hurry for a buck. I can’t remember the exact timeline and can’t be bothered to search for photo evidence, but the two restaurants that changed my mind on pizza were Two Amys in Maryland and Grimaldi’s in Brooklyn. Two very different styles of pizza, but Grimaldi’s cooked in a fire-based pizza oven and authentic Neopolitan at Two Amys. So now there was a new measurement against which to measure all pizzas: the wood-fired pizza.
Naturally, when I found out that a wood-fired pizza oven could be approximated on a Weber Kettle, I was intrigued. As usual, Meathead was my first stop for anything grilled or BBQ’d. I got myself a pizza paddle and a pizza stone.
For my first outing I didn’t want to do my own dough in case it turned out badly. I didn’t want to have also wasted time making dough. So I bought a couple pounds of dough from Wegmans. Then I set up the coals in a rough U shape around where the pizza stone would go.
I left the dough out for the amount of time recommended on the package, but it was not fully defrosted. That made working with it very challenging.
Here’s how the first one came out:
Not the prettiest, but when it’s not a perfect circle we call it rustic. I got the comment that it wasn’t quick as cooked on the top of the dough as would be preferred. So I went from 10 minutes to 15 minutes – rotating every five minutes.
Better crust and better cheese distribution. By this time, though, the temp in the kettle was getting low. I started with one chimney of coals. So I added some more coals above the already lit coals. This was a huge mistake as it ended up WAAAAY too smokey:
For some reason, it seems that having unlit coals underneath (or in a snake or fuse method) doesn’t cause a noticeable amount of white, acrid smoke. But adding coals on top does have the smoke issue.
It was pretty delicious, but actually, I found them to be tastier the next day heated up in the toaster oven at work. But that’s generally the way I feel about pizza.
So lessons learned:
- Pizza may need to cook for 15 minutes
- Wegmans dough takes longer to defrost than it says on the bag
- use a rolling pin if it’s cold or the dough will keep trying to bunch back up
- Do not add more coals on top if the heat is getting low – have more coals already on the bottom or wait until the smoke clears again
- Overall, it has a good pleasant taste
- May need to use less cornmeal on the paddle or warn people about the “sandy texture”
To try next time:
Putting a mild wood like post oak or whatever they typically use in pizza ovens and see how that affects the flavor.