My latest acquisition and fascination is the Kamado grill. One of the benefits of a Kamado, besides the amazing ability to cook at very low temperatures, is its ability to get HOT. Seriously, Steakhouse-Sear hot.
That is a good thing for making Pizza. A big factor in why a pizzeria pizza can taste better than home made lies in the oven. Pizza ovens are typically large deck, open ovens with temperatures of between 625F and 650F, that allow a pizza to cook FAST (5-6 minutes) yet also fully cook raw ingredients like sausage. Home ovens just fail at that.
Sure, you can get pretty good in a home oven, but to get to 600+F, you just can’t do that in home (for good reasons. Pizza ovens are gas hogs, and throw off a ton of ambient, radiant heat that requires some serious cooling to prevent your employees from heat exhaustion.) A Kamado can fill the gap. Easily able to get to 800F+ temps, it can provide a great platform for baking pizzas.
Last month, I got my bonus for the year, and I will admit, that it was bigger than I expected. My one splurge was to buy a Baking Steel that fit in the Kamado. The recommendation was to set it on top of the heat deflectors (this was not sage advice) and then control the temp. I knew I wanted to cook at 650, so I started a firebox full of mesquite lump charcoal (My first foray into Lazzari – a brand I used when I was a professional chef many decades ago) and set the heat deflectors near the top and set the Baking Steel on top of that.
Got the temperature at the dome thermometer above 650F, and I was ready.
The dough recipe I used was the Overnight Pizza recipe from Ken Forbish’s tome, “Flour, Water, Salt, Yeast” (I made a half batch, 500g flour, made two dough balls).
For the sauce, I ground up San Maranzano peeled plum tomatoes, with EVOO, garlic, salt, and a pinch of chili flakes for some zing.
The two pies I made were simple. One was my favorite pepperoni and sausage, and one was a fresh mozzarella and proscuitto (I did add the last of the sausage I had to that one as well).
Cooking at such a high temperature, I knew it would cook fast, At the 5 minute mark I was horrified to find that the steel was so hot that it charred the bottom of the crust. Dang, unintended error. The pie came out and rested, while I slid the second pie on the steel. This time I caught it before it charred the crust.
Back in the house, cut both pies up, and despite the charring, they were excellent. The crust was chewy, with exquisite crumb, and an outstanding texture.
I still have some experimenting to do, but I can say that this is a winner!