This is a brief picto-blog of setting up the XL. This is a fantastic arrangement for cooking at 700 degrees.
To start – Lots of charcoal. This burned for about 3 hours.
You should do a dry run of this setup to get everything aligned. When you are going to actually cook, get your charcoal started here and do the rest of this assembly as it is heating up.
The next addition is the plate setter. It is very important to put one of the legs forward to block the heat at the door. Next, I use a raiser rack, but you can use anything as long as it does not transmit heat and it gets the pizza stone up off the plate setter by a couple of inches.
And now a little secret sauce. This is a $3.00, 14″ aluminum pizza pan. I place it on the raiser rack and use a piece of metal with the back bent up a couple of inches as a backstop so that I don’t send pizzas off the back. (see my other blogs).
Then comes the Pizza stone. This is the 14″ Big Green Egg pizza stone, but any heavy-duty stone will work. Just use the same size aluminum pan as pizza stone. I also had better results with the 21″ stone using a pizza pan below it.
The XL Pizza-Porta installs by setting the unit on the base of the BGE. Align it 1/2″ to 1″ forward (away from the hinge). As you lower the top, slide the unit back into place. The sides should align with the edge like this. The top tabs should just slide inside the top dome. They are stops so that you do not pull the unit out when opening the door. You can bend them back slightly if they keep the lid from closing fully.
Closeup of the tab. With the hinge at factory recommended settings, these tabs will rest against the inside of the lid and are designed to match the slope of the lid closure.
Everything is now in place and the fire is lit. Open the chimney, or daisy wheel and close the Pizza-Porta side vents to let the chimney action bring the temperature up. Unlock the vents from the door as shown while they are cool.
Wait till the temperature reaches 500-550F before opening the side vents and closing the chimney. You can even use the ceramic top cap. Once you make the change to using the side vents, it will take 10-15 minutes for things to settle. The dome heat may be 550 or 600, but the stones take a while to get up to temperature. Pizza dough will stick to the stone if it is below about 400F.
Once the heat has soaked in you can adjust the bottom vent and side vents to match your temperature. I find that the temperature will climb as the walls and interior ceramic heats up, just damper down the bottom and sides to control.
Now it is time to cook pizzas. Remember that wood fired pizza looks a bit darker than pizza cooked in an electric oven. Watch the bottom of pizza for done-ness, and hold the pizza up in the dome on the peel if you want to brown the top a bit more. This is an authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizza – and it was cooked in an XL with a Pizza-Porta.
See our other blogs for tips and tricks.