I like to bake a pizza on the barbecue in the summer as it is too hot to heat up the kitchen by turning up the oven to 550 degrees and heating up my huge cast-iron frying pan, turned upside down which I use as a pizza stone. I have done this with some success outside by putting the frying pan into the kettle barbecue and slipping the pizza right onto the bottom of the frying pan resulting is a crispy crust. The problem with doing it this way is that when you open the grill to slip the pizza in, the heat escapes that would normally cook the toppings. The result is a cooked crust and almost done toppings. You can see the results from one of these experiments here.
I saw this device advertised in La Cucina Italiana called a Kettle Pizza. It is a metal sleeve that slips into your kettle-style barbecue and makes it into a wood-fired pizza oven. The idea is that due to the slot in the front of the sleeve you don't need to uncover the kettle to slip in the pizza. Brilliant! You simply get a charcoal fire going in the chimney starter (don't use Matchlight or charcoal starter unless you like your food to taste like gasoline) and pour the coals into the kettle in a crescent around the back of the kettle. You put the sleeve on with the pizza stone in it so it heats up relatively slowly. You don't want it to crack. Once the heat gets to 600 degrees or so, you remove the sleeve (two people please) and put a couple of pieces of hardwood onto the charcoal and replace the sleeve. The hardwood quickly raises the heat up to 750-900 degrees in just a few moments and the flames from the hardwood "lick" the top of the kettle just like a regular wood-fired pizza oven and you are ready to cook your pizzas. Sounds easy right?
Well it is as the pictures that follow will show. (Click on the pictures to make them bigger)
|Here is the sleeve with the top of the barbecue sitting on it. You place the grill from the barbecue inside the the sleeve and place the stone on top of it.|
|Once the fire is really going you put the sleeve onto the top of the kettle and let it finally heat up to 700-900 degrees for pizza baking!|
|Here's a pizza baking away in the oven. Note the slight charring that you would typically see on a wood-fire baked pizza.|
|Here are two pizzas I made in the oven. The one on the left is pineapple and bacon (for my hubby) and the other is pepperoni, capicola and onion for me. They really came out great!|
I would definitely recommend this product to any out there who would like a reasonably priced alternative to having a stone oven built in your yard or kitchen. It worked well, was easy to use (you do need two people to handle it though) and was the right price ($199). Here is the website for the Kettle Pizza cooker.
Now in the interest of full disclosure I did have a slight problem with the first pizza (I actually made 3). I didn't have the courage of my convictions and when I was sliding the pizza off of the peel it didn't go all of the way into the oven and got stuck on the edge of the stone. When I tried to slip the peel under the pizza to remove it, the pizza slipped down in back of the stone and caught fire. The thermometer was off the scale so it was probably close to 850 degrees in that thing and the smoke was coming out of the front of the oven. That is why the thermometer in the 3rd photo is blackened. Once we were done cooking the pizzas and were cooling the oven down we got to see what the first pizza looked like. The image is below. It isn't pretty. But it was the first one and the first one is always a practice shot, right??
|That pizza was a cinder when it came out of that oven!|