Basic Tips and Tricks we have learned about cooking pizza in a kamado, KJ or BGE.
There are a few things that have to all work correctly to make great pizza - in any oven. A kamado grill or Egg has the additional challenge of the heat source being located below the stone.
1) It is critical to trap as much heat as possible above the pizza so that the temperature is balanced above and below the cooking surface.
2) Consistent high temperatures must be maintained and controlled throughout each pizza's cook time.
3) Managing the temperature by adjusting the airflow is just as important for a high-temperature cook.
4) Pizzas each cook for a different amount of time so a predictable cooking environment inside the oven is crucial.
5) You cook pizza by eye so you must monitor the progress throughout the cook.
The Pizza-Porta is designed to ensuring all of these conditions are met in a kamado grill. Here are some other tips for managing pizza cooking on a BGE, KJ or kamado grill.
Getting up to 500F-600F temperature:
- Moist charcoal – charcoal stored outdoors in the paper bag will get moist. Try to store charcoal in a dry place.
- Small lump impeding airflow – Small pieces that pack tightly together block the ventilation. Hand place some large chunks in the bottom, or use an accessory like a Kick Ash Basket ®.
- Running out of fuel – Start with a very full load because consumption of charcoal is high at 600F. A full load can last 3.5 hours at 600F with a Pizza-Porta. (That is like 20 pizzas!)
- The fire too small. If you do not let the fire get big before switching to the Pizza-Porta vents, it will not advance to 600. Leave the top dome vent open until the BGE/KJ reaches 500F, then use the side control vents.
- Sufficient airflow: Make sure that deflectors and pizza stones leave plenty of room for airflow. On the KJ remove the ash scoop for high temperature cooks - it constricts the airflow tremendously.
Balancing the heat/ internal setup:
It is important to arrange the components inside of the kamado grill (BGE) to balance the heat. In a kamado grill (BGE) all the heat is generated below the cooking surface. The trick is to pass some of the heat around the pizza stone into the dome above the pizza. If you are lifting the dome to check the pizza, you lose the energy needed to balance the energy of the fire. Ceramic is really good at conveying heat. Do not put a pizza stone directly on top of a plate setter, it will burn the bottom of the pizza. You must create a thermal break that does not conduct heat. The metal grate, large balls of foil, tiny flower pots, or spacers from a kiln should be placed between the pizza stone and the plate setter. Some other tips:
- We have had good luck with the plate setter legs down, then a rack or spacers, then the pizza stone. Additional spacers are helpful to get the stone a little higher in the dome. An aluminum pizza pan or a foil circle under a pizza stone also does a great job of deflecting heat. A double rack is a great addition that allows flexibility between the top and bottom heat characteristics.
- Placing a raw pizza on the stone cools the pizza stone slightly. Cooking one after another will keep a stone cooler. If you take a break between pizzas watch carefully because the stone will heat up. Wood fired pizza places will put a "blank" dough in to absorb heat if their oven floor gets too hot.
- Bottom line - no matter the set up, check your pizza often. Every pizza cooks in a different amount of time. The Pizza-Porta allows you to inspect without losing heat and changing temperature.
- Do what works for you. We left the interior layout of your oven up to you. This flexibility allows you to try different setups, and customize the cooking layout. You may devise a hot cook setup, a bread setup, and a deep-dish setup that are slightly different.
If you usually cook 'low and slow' in your kamado grill and have not had a high temp cook in a while you may have excess smoke until that pork goodness burns out. This may give your pizza too intense of a smoke flavor. Cook all of that off before starting pizza (but watch out for a grease fire that overheats your pizza stone). Other points:
- Ensure that the area around your base and dome is clear of flammable items.
- Keep plastic containers away from the grill
- Make sure your grill is centered in the table cutout for a high-temp cook - especially a wood table.
- Your dome may be left with a white powdery residue – this is normal.
Pizza is a bit of an art. Try some raw 8 oz dough balls from a local pizza place (not a grocery store) to get a feel for the process.
When you start making your own dough, make the same exact dough recipe a couple of different times. Use the same measuring cups, same scale, same bowls to remove variability in your dough process. This will allow you to make tiny adjustments that make your pizza your own. An important point I learned from Ken Forkish is that time is an ingredient in dough and should be as consistent as possible.
The professionals make it look easy because they practice. After cooking a few pizzas, you will become better and better.
Helpful Links for Pizza Dough Recipes
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