Why, Why, Why...
I am Cortlandt Minnich, the inventor of the Pizza-Porta.
I am a huge fan of Kamado style cooking. I grew up with Dad's early version of the Big Green Egg® back in the late 60's. More recently in my own back yard, I was happily experimenting and perfecting Butts, Turkeys, Steaks and other standard fare. And then it happened. A friend bought a full blown wood-fired brick pizza oven for his backyard.
I noticed three things:
1) A wood-fired pizza oven makes wonderful pizza!
2) A pizza party is a fantastic thing. It is not like typical Big Green Egg® cooking where all cooking is done and the fire is out before the party starts. The oven is burning, friends are gathered around the hearth talking and drinking wine. As you create and cook pizzas, each one initiates a new wave of excitement. When you pull a piping hot pizza out and place it on a cutting board in front of a group you are a hero.
3) A real wood-fired pizza oven is really big and expensive.
So, given that my Big Green Egg will cook at high temperatures and is a radiant dome design just like a brick oven there had to be a way. I began my quest to make great wood-fired pizza in a kamado style grill.
I figured out that the overall challenge was the consistency. Sometime pizza was underdone on top, sometimes the bottom was black, and occasionally the pizza was good. This was not acceptable. I found that cooking a pizza on the Egg was like driving a really fast submarine; completely blind with only a stopwatch and a thermometer. This is a problem for cooking pizza, which you actually cook by eye. I also noticed that I surrendered temperature control because opening the lid changed everything. Finally, even when the pizza was cooked correctly, it did not have that light, airy, crust that I experienced from a wood-fired oven.
Pizza parties were not fun for me because I was completely stressed-out worrying about what I would find when I lifted the lid.
So, thanks to multiple handmade cardboard and metal prototypes, a lot of geometry review, a friend who is a great pizza maker, and a patient wife -
I bring you Pizza-Porta™
So, what is going on here that is different than just using a pizza stone?
Unlike a Boston butt or a turkey, pizza only cooks for a few precious minutes. Great crust is dependent upon heating up at at a consistent rate without interruption See this article for full details. Capping the chimney retains heat so that each pizza enters a consistent, high-temperature cooking chamber.
The temperature is also steady in the Pizza-Porta from one pizza to the next. You know how long the next pizza will cook. And, by trapping the heat and heating the ceramic dome, the temperature is balanced above and below the pizza, so the top and bottom cook at the same rate.
The Pizza-Porta allows you to fuss with your pizza - just like your favorite pizza chef. Open the door and turn it, lift the edge to check it, put it back in for a second, lift it up into the dome for that final top sear. You have the ability to control exactly how you want to cook each pizza without losing your heat.
The Pizza-Porta allows you to choose your cooking temperature -This is actually an advantage over a wood fired oven. The door and vents retain precise temperature control and allow you to dial-in the temperature. Bread cooks at 350-400 degrees, thick crust pizzas may cook better at 500 degrees, thin Neapolitan are better at 700 degrees - control the airflow and you control the temperature.
Using the Pizza-Porta also delivers a couple benefits I didn't anticipate. Retaining heat reduces fuel consumption. You can cook pizza for hours while you entertain friends - just like that big wood-fired brick pizza oven. Also, opening a small door does not fully ventilate the fire so you are at much lower risk of a flashback - keep those eyebrows!
The Pizza-Porta was designed to be versatile. You control how the interior is configured. Use your current pizza stone setup, add lifters or spacers under the stone or use different size pans. And, the design is made to hold 2 stones so you can cook 2 pizzas at a time.
No more crazy hacks to cook a pizza. I put the raw pizza on the hot pizza stone, check it in a few minutes, turn it if the browning is uneven, pull it after 3.5 - 5 minutes and enjoy. I can do this over and over for an entire party without refilling charcoal. It is just like having a wood fired pizza oven in the backyard.
I hope you enjoy. Cortlandt
Oh, by the way, I do not use clip art on this site. Photographers vary, but all pizzas were made in a Pizza-Porta.
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