Sunday, March 7, 2010

Redneck Pizza Oven

I've been playing with pizza for several months now. Of course, to really make pizza, you need a brick oven. I've been trying to figure out how to do that for a few months. Then one day, my boss sends me this link, of a guy who turned a Weber 22" grill into a pizza oven.

"Hey," I thought, "I can do something even easier on my grill! If a Weber can make pizza, a real grill can too!"

So I decided to make a redneck pizza oven.

We're on our third pizza stone since July. I bought one by Oneida, and it worked fine until it cracked (about 4 weeks after I bought it). Oneida kindly replaced it (with no questions asked, I might add), but the replacement cracked 6 weeks later. I finally bought the good one: the Williams Sonoma version. So far no cracks.

But since we have two broken pizza stones, I decided to reassemble them, jigsaw-puzzle-style for my pizza oven floor.
From Redneck Pizza Oven

The oven itself is made by placing four landscape bricks on my grill. They prop the lid open and shield the walls to keep heat in.
From Redneck Pizza Oven

So with the landscape bricks in place and the two Oneida stones shoved back together, we have the start of a pizza oven.
From Redneck Pizza Oven

I've found my pizza peel is sticky. I thought that was just my own incompetence until I used a friend's. The thing is, I have a $5 pizza peel, and it's varnished. So I took sandpaper to it. The improvement is indescribable. This afternoon I tried putting some cornmeal on the peel under the pies, and it worked like a charm. Not one pie got folded! I might have used too much cornmeal on the first pie.
From Redneck Pizza Oven

From Redneck Pizza Oven

From Redneck Pizza Oven

We realized with the first pie, the lid is too high. We ended up taking too long to get the top of the pie cooked appropriately. I didn't get any pictures of it, but we solved the problem by putting a reflector atop the bricks. So you can't see it, but there is a secret lid about 6" over the pizza stones under the grill lid.

The first reflector was cardboard. It burst into flames after two pies. Ames suggested we try the vanity cover I took off the front of the grill a couple years back (she is, after all, the brains of the operation). Whaddya know? It fits perfectly, it's steel, and it doesn't sag. The pies got a lot better after that one.

We made half a dozen or so pies. They all had a nice char on them, and a hint of smoke
From Redneck Pizza Oven

I soon realized I needed more heat, so I started shoveling burning charcoal right onto the cooking grates next to the pizza stones. It made the pies a little more ashy, and the effect was fabulous
From Redneck Pizza Oven

From Redneck Pizza Oven

Of course, one of the pizza stone pieces cracked again where one of the coals was touching it.

So the Redneck Pizza Oven worked like a champ.

But of course there are some improvements to be made. We need to find a better cooking surface. Reassembling the pizza stone jigsaw puzzle is going to get old pretty quick, and they're just too small. I'm open for suggestions: I've looked for unglazed tile and quarry stone, but I can't find either around here. I've thought of using a cast iron griddle too. Either way, I have a 19.5" deep grill. I want a cooking surface big enough to make at least 18" pies, if not full 19 inchers.

I'm not convinced our reflector is as good as it could be. I'd like to see if I can get something a little more draping. But Ames' version is a lot better than the cardboard ghetto-lid I had made.

And of course we need more practice.

But all in all, the experiment was a success.

From Redneck Pizza Oven


Ames said...


Anonymous said...

Ox - How about send Court and I one of those yummy pizzas....

Shan said...

Yeah, varnish on a pizza peel would be bad.

Good job modifying your barbecue!