Guest Article by: Chef Anthony
Hi! I'm Chef Anthony and I can help you get that real "Wood Fired Pizza Flavor" from your covered Barbecue Grill! The best news we can do it on the cheap!
First, let me say that the real challenge of many Covered Grills & BBQs is not the heat source! It is the insulation, heat retention, and the direction of the heat - coming from the bottom instead of the side. Don't worry! I'm not going to ask you to insulate your BBQ or buy some fancy gizmo to overcome problems on how they retain and distribute heat!
In fact; we're going to use good old american steel for this project! Here's why!
Steel actually does the best job of retaining heat to make authentic artisan wood fired pizza. You can see this in the picture, courtesy of Wheat and Fire Pizza Catering, - note the crispness on the bottom of the wood fired pizza - achieved with baking steel.
A Few Before Your Start Notes!
Ok, just to be clear - I can not turn your favorite covered grill / BBQ into a wood fired pizza oven - but I can help you with some DIY tips that will make it perform more like one. Also, you can search online endlessyly for pizza dough recipes, and the like, in search of authentic flavors. And that's fine - what foodie does not like recipe research? We all do!
I'm here to give you the "nitty gritty" on where flavor comes from, proper heating and cooking for a fantastic pizza, and how to do this project for cheap! You just have to be willing to find your local steel yard or scrap yard! You just need the right words to use when searching for materials which include steel, fire brick, and the use of an upper rack.
Also, steel can be pretty heavy - so take caution when lifting heavy materials. An extra set of hands would be ideal. Also, make sure your grill/bbq is sturdy enough for this project.
I know you love wood fired pizza but no nothing about steel ...
The magic words that you need to know when you to talk to that guy at the steel yard are simple; 834, roll, cold, hot, thickness, and is there free coffee.
- First: 834 black mild steel cold roll or hot roll. The roll type is not a big difference for you whatever your local shop has; this steel is certified for use in food and pharmaceutical grade.
- Second: Order up the right thickness and size. Be sure to measure properly (see step below.) You'll need ⅜” thick sheet cut to the size you need.
How Measure: Measure the bottom grill of your BBQ leave an inch in the front and back for heat rise and three inches on the left and right sides. This is your steel 834 plate area for you to order from your local steel yard. Be careful if you have a larger BBQ that piece can easily weigh 50 pounds. If so you can order two pieces to manage easier.
Oh, the free coffee... this is needed while you wait on your order to be processed. Sit back and relax.
The Perfect Bake and the Often Missed Step
This is the step that many people may miss. Take note because it is highly important. The trick is proper heat retintion, equal distribution of heat, and heat flow - ie; eliminating "hot spots." We've all had that oven that burned the same corner of what ever is baked.
Here's the missed step. We've created a way to equalize the heat across the bottom - now we have to work on the heat coming up the sides. Here you will need an upper grill grate as well as some fire bricks.
- GRATE: If your BBQ does not have an upper rack do not fear there are many available aftermarket. Ideally; you want this rack to be as large as the baking steel; that will fit in your BBQ while allowing you to close the lid
- BRICKS: For this upper rack we do not want heat retention we want heat refraction and the best for that are fire bricks. You can use thinner bricks which are easier to handle and fit into your BBQ. It is best to have these bricks span the whole metal plate area.
- And WOOD!: So now that we have created a metal bottom and and a fire brick top we have done our best to create the best authentic wood fired pizza environment we can. Another fun thing to play with is to add smoke boxes on the side under the fire bricks and have a live wood fire!
Let’s eat some pizza!
Before I go any further I want to say that when it comes to pizza... think outside of the "pizza box!" You can choose from a wide variety of ingredients and flavors. And - pizza is not just for a quick meal anymore. For inspiration - check out my "wedding pizza!"
Back to the article- Seasoning the Steel: You will want to fire the grill a few times before seasoning the steel. You can season the steel with cooking oil sprayed on top and lightly wipe to disperse evenly then fire for at least 30 minutes and let sit for 3 hours before firing again. I suggest doing this three times to form a nice hard seasoning layer that is even.
Now your are ready to bake! Let the steel warm up for about 20 minutes or so depending on your baking style and BBQ. Special tip: watch that the steel does not get too hot as it will char the bottom of the pizza (unless you like that sort of thing!). You can get a squirt bottle of water and lower the surface temperature. You know have your own baking steel custom fitted for your BBQ!
If you are interested to learn more about a wood fired pizza menus mobile wood fired pizza and see our ovens and crew in action. Enjoy and I hope this is the beginning of a great artisan food journey for you! - Chef Anthony
Chef Anthony is a culinary professional specialing in wood fired pizza and artisian catering. His company, Wheat and Fire Pizza Catering has a fantastic slogan - "MOBILE PIZZA PARTY OVEN HIRE - Rolled Right to Your Door!" Chef Anthony and his staff use healthy ingredients, home grown spices, and specialize in "Farm to Table" menu planning. Wheat and Fire Pizza serves Long Beach • Malibu • Glendale • Pasadena • Anaheim • San Diego • Orange County • San Bernardino County • Los Angeles County • Riverside County • Inland Empire • San Fernando Valley • Coachella Valley.