This is a startup guide for using the Pizza-Porta. Below I explain and illustrate how to use the Pizza-Porta. I hope these instructions help you conquer the pizza challenge on a Big Green Egg, or Kamado Joe.
First things first. You need some things in conjunction with the Pizza-Porta. First you need a space to stretch out your dough. A granite counter top is fantastic. If you are going to work outside, a 24" piece of glossy ceramic tile is a great portable option. You will also need a pizza stone, cutting board, a couple of peels. a brush, and of course a pizza cutter. A note about wooded peels - there is some kind of voodoo to a wooden peel. A dough that is dry to the touch will slide off perfectly onto the pizza stone. Dough seems to stick to a metal peel even with cornmeal.
You can use other versions of these items, but a 12" wide peel works well so you have some space to jiggle the pizza around.
Once you have these tools lined up, you will need to set up your grill for a full batch of pizza cooking. Pour a full load of charcoal in - go ahead and cover that fire ring! A full load of good charcoal will cook for 3.5 - 4 hrs at 600F. The setup inside the egg starts with the platesetter legs down, some pipe fitting, flower pots, balled aluminum foil or other nonpconducting spacer. Then, an aluminum pizza pan makes a great additional deflector below the pizza stone. The idea is to keep the stone from overheating relative to the dome temperature.
Or for a Kamado Joe Classic -
A closer look at that installation part: (The fit is carefully calibrated for a hinge set to factory specifications.)
Traditional Big Green Egg hinge: Hold the Pizza-Porta against the top dome and lower the dome down with it as shown.
New BGE side spring hinge - Lift the lid halfway and slide the Pizza-Porta into place.
Kamado Joe - Set the Pizza-Porta on the base and then lower the lid.
XL BGE - Open dome fully and set the Pizza-Porta on the base, centered but slightly toward the front (1/2 inch). Lower the lid to 1" above the Pizza-Porta and slide the Pizza-Porta back toward the hinge. Lower the dome and ensure it is centered front and back and left to right. The rear of the Pizza-Porta can be flexed by hand if it catches on the felt.
A couple of dry runs and you will figure it out.
One more point - The steel bands can shift though heating and cooling cycles. Make sure that they are parallel at about 10mm apart all the way around the BGE. Check the tightness of the bolts from time to time as described in BGE literature.
Time to light that fire. Once the grill is lit, place all the components in while it is relatively cool. With the Pizza-Porta vents closed, open the bottom vent and remove the top cap to get the temperature up to 450-500. Now use the ceramic top from the BGE, or shut off the daisy wheel on the KJ completely and use the Pizza-Porta vents in conjunction with the bottom vent to dial in your temperature. Let all the internal components soak in heat for about 15-20 minutes.
If you have not done many pizzas, I would recommend that you dial the temperature to 575F. You can always go up next time, but this will give you a little more cushion in checking and turning the pizza.
Now that you have your pizza oven heating up, it is time to stretch out the dough. There are many fantastic videos out there about stretching dough. If you do search, learn from someone who makes pizza for a living, not someone who has made a couple here and there. For example, I have never seen a pizza restaurant use parchment paper - it is silicone coated paper well suited for cookies or other 350-400 degree baking. There is absolutely no need for it in a pizza oven. And, with a little practice you will wonder why people use it.
Below is a simple introduction to stretching dough. Start with dough that has reached room temperature and has a bit of a dry skin to it. You want to squish the bubbles out of the middle of the dough, but leave them in the cornicione (outside rim). That curb is important to hold your ingredients. Dough is stretchy, so practice with it. If it pulls back too much, let it rest for 1 minute and start again. Try not to use a rolling-pin as it squeezes out your curb, breaks the skin of your dough and will make it stick.
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Now that you have a dough in the right shape, place it on a peel with a tiny bit of cornmeal. You can also use semolina, or just flour. This is how little you need. And, do not put any cornmeal on the pizza stone. A hot stone will toast the bottom of the dough and it won't stick. In fact, brush off the stone between pizzas.
Decorate or dress your pizza while the dough is on the wooden peel. Get creative! Try going light on topping for your first couple pizzas. Ingredients with great flavors can be blended somewhat sparsely on a pizza with great effect.
Once decorated, it is time to go into the Pizza-Porta. Like sliding a table-cloth out from under a plate. Put the peel all the way in, jiggle it, and then slide it out from under the pizza. It if droops off the front or back of the stone, just let it cook for a minute to set and then use a metal peel to adjust.
Check your pizza after about 2 minutes and make sure it is cooking evenly side to side. Rotate it if necessary. Lift the front edge for a peek at the bottom. If the bottom gets done and you want to roast the top just a little more, you can lift it up off the stone with a metal peel and hold it high up in the dome. Since the top vent is closed, the dome will be hot and broil the top.
And now, simply retrieve, eat and repeat. Easy as pie...
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