Pizza Week! – Day 3: Grill-Oven
“I’m hungry yeah
I said I’m starving yeah
I want some Pizza,
Coke and ice cream popcorn.”- No Doubt
Ahhhh memories… the old Webber grill pizza oven. I loved this thing. When I first moved to Bermuda, it didn’t take me long to notice the lack of good pizza. Here, there are only two restaurants where you can get a semi-decent slice, but they are both sit-down, kind of expensive, and far from consistent. There is also one delivery place but their pizza quality ranks just below Domino’s, and their price is about four times that of Domino’s. Mandi and I quickly realized that if we wanted decent pizza, we would have to make it ourselves at home! So on that fateful day about one and a half years ago we embarked on a pizza-making journey and have been traveling down that road on our quest for pizza perfection ever since.
The first place we started our pizza-cooking experiment was in our oven. Unfortunately at our old apartment we had a really old, small and barely-functioning oven. The dial meant nothing really. It had two settings: on and off. No matter what temperature the dial read when you turned it on it would heat up and continue to rise ’till it got to about 500 and then shut off completely. Not only was it pretty badly busted, it would also make our house unbearably hot. This made for pretty miserable party conditions here in Bermuda in the heat of the summer.
One day I had the idea to move the operation to my backyard grill. I set the coal up in a ring around the edge of the grill and fired it up. This is a game that takes practice, but I can give you a few tips. The fire needs to be really hot, but be mostly not directly under the bricks. It needs about an hour for the bricks to come to temperature. A digital thermometer is almost essential. The bottom vents need to be open as wide as possible and the coal catcher removed. The top vents also must be open. This helps the air flow over the pizza and the top end crust to cook.
When we started this, we were getting 8 minute pizzas (too long by almost anyone’s standards.) By the end of this oven’s life, we were down to 5 minutes, and still able to get the top sufficiently cooked. We used the Webber grill pizza oven method for about a year before recently moving to our new apartment. Be sure to come back tomorrow and see my upgraded oven! Also please feel free to ask questions in the comments section if you are considering cooking pizza with this method. I will be glad to help!! Another note. Jeffrey Steingarten (the ornery Iron Chef judge) uses a similar pizza cooking method. I was really surprised when I read this article a few months ago!
Pizza Week Menu:
I had to add this picture because I love it. The pizza is totally the center of attention! And you can see the blue cheese swirl really well.
This is how I set everything up. The sides of the grate fold down because it is upside-down. This is because it bent downward a little so I flipped it over. Other than that, there is NO MODS on this grill. It is a stock Webber setup with 6 “sliced” firebricks on the grill. Sliced means they are cut in half the long way, so they are thinner than normal bricks. I was able to find these in Bermuda for 2 dollars each, so I’m sure you will be able to find them.
The “oven” in its natural habitat.
The old coffee table / workspace.
I didn’t only put this picture up to show Rich’s sweet mustache. Note the crust integrity of his slice. He is only holding it at the end, but it is not flopping down.
As you can see, this method produced a fantastic upskirt.
And plenty of heat to create a good hole structure. The only negative was that the top of the end crust could have been a little more charred.