The Egg is a dome, a pizza oven is a dome. What is different?

Wood fired pizza ovens have been evolving for centuries, maturing into the igloo shapes made of fire bricks that we know today.  These ancient, simple, ovens have cooked outstanding bread and pizza for centuries.  What is so different from a Big Green Egg or Kamado style grill? It may be odd to think

The Pizza-Porta team cooks at the Tomato Festival

One of the many benefits of launching a product that combines outdoors, pizza, and fresh ingredients is the setting in which you find yourself cooking. Last weekend we had the opportunity to cook pizza on the Pizza-Porta in the most beautiful spot in Georgia.  North Georgia has terrain suitable for growing grapes.  And, when you can grow grapes, you might as well make wine!  We were at the Crane Creek Vineyard  to celebrate a different plant that bestows us with wonderful tastes, the tomato.  This annual event featured live music, wine tasting, and lots of food that highlighted the tomato.  We were there of course to promote its use as a sauce and as a fresh, juicy topping.  I am not going to prattle on too much about the day and let the photography do the talking.  These are actual photos from the day, not internet images of northern Italy.

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And after all it was a celebration of the tomato - the winery had harvested hundreds of tomatoes, so this is what we saw everywhere!

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Enough distractions from the beautiful scenery. The crack cooking team had to forgo adirondack chairs, wine tasting, and caprese salads. We were here to cook!  We unloaded the Big Green Egg, placed the Pizza-Porta, and started making pizza.

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Of course we featured fresh ingredients and interesting tomatoes.

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Margherita was the most popular pizza of the day.  We tried to riff on the Margherita for the festival.  The pizza below features roasted tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and is topped with organic arugula and balsamic glaze.  All topped with a little parmesan.




We were close enough to enjoy Cornbread Ted and the Butterbeans  throughout the day.

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The festival was a blast.  We met some great folks from Florida, Ohio, Georgia and North Carolina.  Blaine and Kate shared great stories about cooking on their Pizza-Porta. Boy do they cook pizzas!  There were some who were not familiar with the capabilities of a Big Green Egg, and others who never imagined cooking pizzas at 600F all day long.  We did some demonstrations on how to make and stretch out pizza dough showing the virtues of homemade and pizzeria dough. We ended up cooking until the 44 doughs we brought were all cooked.  It was a great day at the vineyard, and we look forward to doing more events in exotic locations like this.  Thanks for everyone who came out and enjoyed pizza with us. Special thanks to Crane Creek Vineyards for hosting such a fantastic event!


Look for us at Eggs on the Beach near Destin in September and Eggtoberfest at Stone Mountain Park in October.


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Thank you to Tim for his outstanding photography.

Is it a paddle, shovel, spatula, peal, or peel?

So, why use a giant paddle?

You know that tool, the one you’ve always seen the chef at your favorite local pizzeria using—what special function does that paddle serve? The technical term for that handy pizza paddle is a “peel”. People often ask

Gluten Free Pizza with traditional pizza character!


We are pizza nuts spreading the idea of backyard craft pizza on the BGE. When doing demos we are always asked about opening this world to people who want gluten free pizza. I have been focused on getting traditional pizza just right so I have not put much attention on this challenge. One of my team members is a great cook and has found that a gluten free diet is much better for her.  So, I began looking around for a recipe that was as close to conventional pizza as possible.  My criteria were:

  1. Conventional pizza cooking method - raw dough with ingredients into the oven.
  2. Has to taste/crunch/chew like a traditional crust
  3. Must be Italian style- ( a Mexican corn tortilla makes a great quesadilla, but not a pizza)
  4. Non gluten-free eaters should appreciate the pizza on its merits.

So this left me with very few options that I could find in recipes.  Cauliflower recipes (no offense to those who love them) did not seem to be the right thing, and other combinations were different dishes entirely.  I mentioned this challenge to Charlie Augello of E48th Street Market  in Dunwoody, GA and he gave me a grin and handed me the solution.  Caputo -The Flour of Naples,  knows a little bit about pizza, so I gave it a try:




This is an interesting mix of corn starch, rice, and other things.  It has the most bizarre feel in the bag.  If you walked on a field of it there would be a squeak like a sandy beach.  I used half of the bag or 500g of flour (17.6 oz).

I followed Caputo's online recipe, with two small exceptions; For this batch I used baker's fresh yeast instead of dried, and since I would be cooking the dough in 7 hours, I added a little honey to jump start the yeast.



I used a 3X conversion for the fresh to dry yeast, so 9 grams (.3 oz) of fresh yeast is equal to 3g of dried yeast.  I added a little water to the yeast to make a kind of slurry and added it to the dry ingredients. (I measure by weight as much as possible. Try a scale, it is so much easier.)

Then, I added the typical other ingredients of pizza crust.

14g Kosher salt

1.5g of Baking soda.

1 tsp of honey

13.5 fluid oz of water

.75 fluid oz olive oil  (EVOO)

I mixed the dry ingredients in the stand mixer, and then tried the dough hook.  A dough hook is not useful without gluten, so I turned the dough onto a surface coated with this special flour and kneaded it by hand for a few minutes.  Again it has a strange feel about it when you squish it.

I formed three dough balls, about 300 grams each, and let them rise on the counter for about an hour.  I then put them into the refrigerator for about 5 hours - overnight would have been even better.

An hour before cooking, I pulled the dough balls out of the refrigerator and found that they had risen much more that expected.




They looked great.  A slightly different smell than regular pizza dough.  (They smelled a little like saltine crackers!)  I worked with one to create the first pizza and found that it handled a bit differently.  There is very little stretch to the dough.  Draping the dough across your hands is not that effective because it lacks that window-pane property from gluten.  So, I formed the dough into a pizza shape on the counter and then transferred it to the peel.  The pizza below has red sauce, mozzarella, chicken, onion, and a little basil.  The raw pizza looked great going into the Pizza-Porta.





I was a little nervous how this would cook so I checked it about every minute.  I was amazed to watch the edge start to rise and get a little bit brown after 4 minutes.

When I pulled it out of the oven after about 5 minutes at 600F, it looked fantastic.





The true test would be in the eating, and sure enough it was great.  The edge had bubbles and was a bit puffy.  The middle was a little bit dense, but crispy.  This particular pizza could have cooked just a bit more as the dough on the bottom is a little thicker than a typical pizza.  Non- gluten free eaters agreed that it was a little bit more dense than regular pizza, but good, and the gluten free eater of the bunch said "This is the best pizza I have had since going gluten free years ago"  - Yay, we had success!

The second pizza was a different concoction.  Artichoke pesto as the base (hence the green tone), topped with shredded chicken, feta cheese and onions with a little basil.




We got this crust a little bit thinner in the center, and cooked it a little bit browner to yield this pizza.



This pizza was a winner all around.  The dough had  the chance to rest longer at room temperature before cooking, letting it rise a bit more.  The additional cooking time and thinness got the center to cook more thoroughly and provided an even lighter, crunchy crust.

The online recipe needed a little more yeast, and I recommend a longer aging period. From this experience, I highly recommend the Caputo "Free of Gluten flour".  Thank you Charlie, for a great gluten free solution!


Here is the full recipe.   Enjoy - Thanks for reading.   Cortlandt

Gluten Free Pizza

500g Caputo "Free of Gluten flour"  (Half of the bag)

3 g dry yeast (half a pouch) - use bread-maker yeast if possible  (9g of fresh yeast in this recipe)

13.5 fluid oz of water

.75 fluid oz Olive oil  (EVOO)

14g Kosher salt (slightly less than a Tbsp)  half this amount for table salt

1.5g of Baking soda. (1/4 tsp)

1 Tsp of honey

This will yield 3 Pizza doughs of 300g (10 oz) each


Hiawassee Egg Fest - Beautiful mountain setting and great food


If you have not been to this Egg Fest in the GA mountains - you are missing out.  Ample parking, a tree-lined thoroughfare, buildings for the vendors, real bathrooms, and Lake Hiawasee in the background. We packed the Egg in the car and put the mobile cart on the back and headed 2 hours North to the mountains.











The site was absolutely gorgeous and we did most of the setup on Friday night before the fantastic covered dish cook's dinner.  Thank you to all of the cooks who brought their "A-game" to the covered dish.  (If you are going to attend a covered dish dinner - make sure there are a bunch of Eggers there!  Wow)

Saturday morning we started setting up for Pizza production.   We had 40 dough balls on deck and plenty of ingredients to make a variety of different pizzas.











We cranked up the egg about 8:45 thinking that with a 9:00 gate opening, we would have "tasters" at about 9:30.  We were wrong!  People showed up at 9:02 and were excited to start tasting food.













This photo was taken at about 11:00. See the line in the background?  We had great folks coming by all day long.  There were many questions about how to handle dough and transfer it to the pizza stone.  We tried to do as many demos as possible.  I even had a challenger watching my every move to see if one would stick to the peel.  I had one stick to the peel late in the day - we got a little more cornmeal on that edge and it slid right in.










My good friend Mark was a substitute pizza chef for this event.  He actually volunteered for this. For those who watched and tasted, Mark had only made 4 or 5 pizzas before this event.  I think you will agree he did a great job.











With the help of both of our daughters we cranked out and served pizzas.  At about 12:30 it was time to add charcoal.   So our first load of charcoal lasted nearly 4 hours.  This is a new record for the Pizza-Porta cooling crew!  We reloaded and after a 10 minute warm up we were cooking again.  We realized that we had already cooked 28 pizzas!  Only 12 left for an event that lasts until 3:00!









We were so busy that we didn't take very good photos of our creations.  This Margarita was near the end of the day.  We slowed our pace a bit and ventured out to taste some of the fantastic dishes from our Egg neighbors.  Shout out to elk sausage, stuffed peppers, and some sort of pork extravaganza on a tooth pick.

This is our last pizza at about 2:15.    IMG_4789








We got to meet some legendary eggers and some who were taking the plunge by buying an Egg at the festival.  Welcome to the family!  Thank you to all the organizers.  A special thank you to Crane Creek Vineyards for agreeing to share booth space.  See you next year!

Thank you for reading.


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Post trip update:

While unpacking, I found the leftover charcoal from the entire day of cooking pizza.




Smoke on the Lake - with real smoke


On Saturday, May 7th, we joined a fellow entrepreneur and friend Evan, from Hedgehog Lacrosse,for our first real-live barbecue contest.  Smoke on the Lake is a fundraiser for the Rotary club of North Cobb County, GA.  This event gave us a chance to test out some changes in our hinge design.  Cooking Friday night and five hours on Saturday gave us lots of time to test.  We also got to some Pizza R&D. Hedgehog Lacrosse has a snazzy tent and trailer that we enjoyed over the 2 day event.










We setup at this beautiful setting on Lake Allatoona near Acworth, GA on Friday night.  Not knowing what to expect we only brought 10 pizza doughs along for the night.  The crowd finished those off in no time.  We enjoyed Evan's fantastic wings, a concert and fireworks to end the night.

Early Saturday morning we put the Pizza-Porta to work roasting peppers while getting up to temperature.











After the pizzas starting rolling out, we had some guest pizza makers show up to help.  Our kids basically took over operations.




















The day was picture perfect with blue skies and a great crowd.  We even got a sneak taste of the winning ribs submission and second place chicken winner - thanks to our neighbors - Team Sweetbottom.  They pulled an all night effort and took home some hardware.


On the pizza R&D front, we tried some different combinations.  We stripped the meat off a batch of chicken wings and added hot sauce, blue cheese, and mozzarella to make a wing pizza that was fantastic.  Then, to test chicken thighs, we added roasted garlic, and Fontina cheese.  It really brought out the flavor of dark grilled chicken.  Another notable experiment was testing different versions of pulled pork.

After an evening and a whole day of open and closing the Pizza-Porta - we are satisfied with the new hinge design.  On to production.











Thanks kids for running the show for a while!

Make your own hand-crafted pizza this weekend.



Sunshine State Egg Fest

"She packed my bags last night, pre-flightZero hour, nine A.M."

You can't go to Cape Canaveral without a Rocket Man reference.  So with our bags packed at 9:00 am we headed off.  We were sad to leave one of our crew behind on this mission.











Eight hours, 2 meals, 7 conference calls later, we arrived in time for the chef's meeting and to get reacquainted with some of the legends of the Big Green Egg cooking world.  After a fun dinner and couple of nightcaps at a beach bar with live music -even in the rain- we rested and got ready for our big day.










Ben doing the pizza prep work first thing in the morning.










And we started cranking out pizza to this great crowd. It turned out to be a beautiful day with a steady breeze, big white clouds and no rain.  Wassi's did a great job organizing the event.

Sun state crowd









We started serving pizza at about 10:00 am.  There is no wrong time to eat pizza.











We made more pizza










We thought there might be a crowd so we brought our double rack - you can see one in the background cooking away.










The wonderful part of the Pizza-Porta is the ability to have a good sized party in your backyard.  This event is an extreme example, but you can see the point.  After about 3 hours we re-loaded the egg with charcoal and kept on cooking.  In your backyard, a 7pm dinner party would have enough charcoal to last until 10pm.  Cook a few pizzas, enjoy your guests.  Cook a few more pizzas and then enjoy your guests.  It is a great cycle.











This pizza was a surprise.  Our BGE cooking neighbors gave us some delicious pork tenderloin to test with our other ingredients.  I believe this one was onion, pork tenderloin, rosemary, mushrooms and fresh mozzarella.  It was fantastic.

We brought 40 - 9 oz. dough balls to this event and cooked every one of them.

It was great meeting so many BGE enthusiasts.  We are pizza nuts spreading the idea of backyard craft pizza on the BGE.  It was great to do demonstrations for experienced eggers and also welcome new eggers that joined the fold on this day.  Egg on!  and see you next year.


Thanks for Reading



Pizza Prep Hack


We were planning to do an event at on offsite location.  It is better to roll out dough on a granite countertop that is easy to clean and has a smooth texture.  I came up with this simple, cheap, tile solution. SONY DSC


I visited a major floor and decor tile outlet and found this large 23" by 23" ceramic tile.  As you can see it is hard to tell that it is not real marble.  The marble tiles would have worked, but this tile was less than $10.  I will bet that you could just lay this tile on your BGE table and it would be fine for years.  I am a classic over-doer so I rough cut a $12 piece of cement backer board glued it to the back and then SONY DSCused a trim bit on the router to trim it flush.


This makes a perfect surface to press out your dough right next to the Big Green Egg.  This size also leaves room for your tomato sauce, onions, mushrooms, and BBQ pork in containers around the edge.





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Pensacola Eggfest - or Bust


After long deliberations we attended our first food festival. We were afraid to show the Pizza-Porta to anyone who might knock it off an go into production. Our patent is pending, so we hope that does not happen. We set up a couple objectives for the show: 1) Can we make authentic pizza from scratch on-site? Oh, and there will be 1200 people! 2) Does this crazy design work with off the shelf eggs? 3) Does anyone else think this is a good idea? 4) How do we get a "buy" signal?

The Pensacola Eggfest turned out to be a fantastic event. Everyone we met was helpful and supported everything we needed to do our cooking. We realize that pizza at a BBQ festival might seem a little weird, but the crowds were fantastic. We are proud to be part of this event and also to support Chain Reaction.

How did it turn out for us? 1) affirmative - We made dough for 50 pizzas - we put a stacked pizza stone in one BGE and a single in another. We cooked every single pizza! One egg was still on the first load of BGE charcoal at the end! Steady 600F degrees from 10:30 till 2:00 cooking the majority of the pizzas. We heard that our pizza was delicious, with just the right crunch. 2) affirmative - We placed the two Pizza-Porta's in their eggs, slid them around a little to ensure the fit, and then started cooking. 3) affirmative - We had a great number of folks tell us that this was a good idea. Thank you Big Moe Cason, Chris Grove, and Big Green Craig for the shout-outs. 4) affirmative - We hope to be shipping in a few months.


Backyard Gourmet Pizza Peelers was our team name for the event.  Special thanks to our wives for the hall pass, and for jumping in to help!


Here are some other photos:













Current Prototype - we have come a long way


  This is an account (from memory) about the first prototype.

As I mentioned elsewhere, Ben (my now Pizza adviser extraordinaire) purchased a dedicated pizza oven for his backyard.  I was intrigued to say the least.  It burned really hot (your home oven is really only good to about 450° F). and it kept a very consistent hot temperature.  I had recently made huge skewers to put into the top of my Char-Griller® Akorn grill for Tandoori, so I knew that a kamado style grill was versatile.  I tried making some pizza's in the Akorn at a high temperature, and they turned out pretty well, but the process just wasn't right. I was leaning over a 700° fire trying to slip a pizza peel out from under the pizza.   It is like tailgating with a disposable aluminum grill.  You can do it, the food is hot, but it does not respect the authentic ritual.

So, I set our to bring the right ritual into pizza making on a kamado style grill.  At the time I did not know why the rituals existed, but more on that in a future blog.

I began by propping open the lid of the Akorn with some success.  I could slip a pizza onto the oven and it protected me from that blast of heat, but I lost any way to control the temperature.  I added some side baffles to keep the heat in, but with an open window I had difficulty getting the temperature that I wanted consistently.  I started tinkering in the shop with some sheet metal to create a device that would insert but also control the airflow.  After 47 cut fingers and a few nights of work, I came up with the design below. It is made of galvanized metal, but we focused on temperature testing, not cooking. I understand that cooking and galvanized metal do not mix.

Proto 1