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First time pizza on the grill - making all the mistakes

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    First time pizza on the grill - making all the mistakes

    Hey all you cool cats and kittens,

    I've watched the pizza makers on this forum with envy for years, as my wife never really liked pizza. We would still have it occasionally, but more as an "I'm too tired to cook today, let's just throw a frozen pizza in the oven" thing. And then, I don't know how it happened, but we were having pizza a month or so ago, and she brought up the pizza oven that we had seen when we visited new2smoking a while back (we miss you guys). We talked about it, I showed her the Ooni ovens which she liked, and I said that AmazingRibs says you can make a pretty darn good pizza on a Weber Kettle. She got excited and jumped on board, and now we are going to try it out tonight! I ordered a pizza stone and peel off Amazon, and they came in last week.

    However, it's already off to a rough start. Here's a list of the challenges I've already faced, please let me know if there are any adjustments I can make to compensate:
    1. I found out late last night that we were a go, so I tried whipping up Kenji's NY pizza dough. I added too much water so it was really sticky (I spilled some water and overcompensated). I had to add maybe 1/2 cup more flour, I hope that won't impact things too much.
    2. I divided the dough into three and stuck it in the fridge in zippie bags. Important note, our fridge broke down a few days ago, and we got the compressor replaced yesterday. The repairman said that it would take 24-48 hours for the new compressor to fully ramp up and cool the fridge to its set temps. This morning, maybe due to the higher than normal temps, I found the dough basically filling up the bag - probably more than double its size from last night. Still ok?
    3. I didn't bother to measure our oven before ordering the pizza stone, and it doesn't sit flat on the oven rack due to a raised lip at the back. Not a big deal since I plan to mainly use it on the grill, but a little disappointing. Preheating it this morning to get factory and packing stuff off seems to have gone ok.
    4. The pizza stone hangs over the SnS a bit - is that okay? Will it damage the stone if part of it is directly over charcoal? I could rotate the grates so the stone doesn't hit the grate handle, but then I wouldn't be able to add wood chunks to keep the heat going.
    5. Mozzarella at the store was only available in slices, not shredded. We'll break it up and hope we got enough.
    We are going to try and cook 3 pizzas - how best to keep the temp up? I don't have any bricks here so I am planning on lighting a chimney of charcoal, dumping it, setting the pizza stone right on the grate, preheat for 30 minutes with lid slightly cracked, put some wood chunks on, and once those are lit well, put the first pizza on. How long should I expect them to take?

    #2
    PBCDad my best advice to you is to watch the video on cooking Pizza over at SNSGrills.com:

    https://snsgrills.com/pages/wood-fired-pizza

    That is how I have been going, and by cracking the kettle, I get the dome temp of my Performer pegged up around 550F or so. I've also been putting my pizza up higher in the dome, using a Hovergrill I have, using a Lodge 14" cast iron pan as my pizza stone. It's been much better results than we got in the oven inside at 450F. Be sure to preheat the stone for 15-20 minutes before cooking the first pizza, and add a couple of fresh wood chunks right before cooking - just put them on the outer edge of the SNS, so the flames are not hitting the stone.

    You will be hotter on the side towards the SNS, but that is why you rotate the pizza every minute or two. Just close the lid back to where it is cracked JUST on the edge where the SNS is, so that the flames on the wood chunks keep going, in between spinning the pizza.

    My pizzas - 14" ones with a thin NY style crust - took about 8-9 minutes each. I rotated 90 degrees every 2 minutes, using my Grillgrate spatula.

    You can kind of get an idea of what I am doing here.


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    Last edited by jfmorris; May 8, 2020, 11:01 AM.

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      #3
      Thanks jfmorris you are one of the pizza chef's I have been watching. In fact, one of our pizzas just may have bleu cheese dressing in place of the tomato sauce.

      I don't have a hover grill or anything else to elevate the stone. Have you had success with the pizza at grate level? How long are you able to keep temps up with your setup?

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by PBCDad View Post
        Thanks jfmorris you are one of the pizza chef's I have been watching. In fact, one of our pizzas just may have bleu cheese dressing in place of the tomato sauce.

        I don't have a hover grill or anything else to elevate the stone. Have you had success with the pizza at grate level? How long are you able to keep temps up with your setup?
        Thanks! I used the blue cheese dressing as the pizza sauce on a buffalo chicken pizza, after tossing some chopped up grilled chicken in hot sauce.

        Do you have 2 bricks, or maybe even a pan of some sort you could put under the stone, to raise it some? That might help. The guy in the SNSGrills video is cooking on the main grate, but I've only tried it elevated. You may just take a minute or two longer if its on the main grate versus up 3-4 inches.

        Temps drop when you open it to rotate the pizza, but it recovers back to 550ish in a minute after putting the lid back on. The key is to keep those wood chunks flaming by keeping the edge of the lid cracked by the SNS. I've not tried a probe, and am just relying on the dome temp, and my IR gun to check the temp of the stone (or iron in my case!).

        EDIT: I wanted to add that we PREFER the blocks of mozzarella, and to slice it up, and place on the pizza over all the other toppings usually, versus using shredded. So your slices will do just fine. It will melt and run together.
        Last edited by jfmorris; May 8, 2020, 11:50 AM.

        Comment


        • PBCDad
          PBCDad commented
          Editing a comment
          I found a retaining wall block in the yard, and positioned it so it seems to work. I'm counting on it not getting hot enough to explode :|

        #5
        Last thought on this subject is that if you have lump, use that as it tends to burn hotter. I used lump plus wood chunks. I am out of lump, so will be trying briquettes next time, and I am curious to see if it burns as hot in this configuration.

        Comment


        • mnavarre
          mnavarre commented
          Editing a comment
          I "stole" your setup idea, just using an old rib rack instead of the hover grill. With a full load of KBB and 3-4 big wood chunks I had the pan up to 585 with all vents full open and the lid cracked. It did use a lot of fuel. Next time I'll pre heat the pan in my gasser so I'm not wasting useful pie baking time heating the pan up.

        #6
        I've made Kenji's NY pizza dough quite a bit. It typically expands close to double its size during the cold ferment in the fridge. I wouldn't worry about it. Just make sure it comes up to room temp otherwise you'll have a bear of a time getting it stretched out without it bouncing back.

        Can't help you about the stone and the SnS. I would be a little concerned at direct heat, especially as you are supposed to let you stone come up to temp with the oven/grill so it doesn't crack so the direct blast of heat may be an issue but not sure as when I make pizzas on my grill, I cook direct over the heat, no stone. Definitely make sure to preheat the stone at least 30 minutes so the stone gets hot enough so that it won't lose too much heat when cooking the pizza. For pizzas 2 and 3, I let the stone heat back up for a few minutes before putting another pizza on to make sure its hot enough. If you have a lot of flour or cornmeal on the stone, will also want to brush it off between cooks or it will burn and turn acrid

        Slice mozzarella is fine, even preferred some times but I wouldn't bother cutting it up so it looks shredded. Using slices is easier to get full coverage and not overdo it in some areas. When I make sicilian pizza, I go right to the deli counter to get sliced mozzarella.

        My other advice, if you are a pizza newbie, is to use more flour than you think is necessary to stretch the dough and get on the peel (and hope your peel is wood as that is the best to launch the pizzas as metal sticks ever worse. Also don't top your dough on the peel or it will almost definitely stick. As you are carrying the stone to the grill, keep shaking it to make sure it doesn't stick. Nothing worse that opening the grill or oven and getting blasted by hot air before realizing the dough is stuck to the peel
        Last edited by shify; May 8, 2020, 01:11 PM.

        Comment


        • PBCDad
          PBCDad commented
          Editing a comment
          I've seen enough posts from other first-timers about their struggles getting the pizza off the peel. For today I think the pizzas will start their life on parchment paper, and I'll try to take that out the first time I turn it.
          Thank you for the info on the dough and the cheese, helps give me some confidence it might all work out. I found a way to elevate the stone, so it won't be getting blasted quite so much with direct heat.

        • shify
          shify commented
          Editing a comment
          PBCDad - parchment is a good crutch. Usually can pull it after the first min. I use it when I make pizza with my kids and they want to top the pie. Makes it so much easier with negligible impact. Just make sure to cut the excess before putting on stone so there isn’t a ton of overhang.

          And thanks for the inspiration. Made some dough tonight. Not sure when I’ll use it (or freeze it) but it’s in the fridge.
          Last edited by shify; May 8, 2020, 05:56 PM.

        #7
        Well it was a big success and a lot of fun too! Putting the pizzas together was a good family activity, and the kids really liked looking at the pizzas as they cooked. The only problem that we had was that the center of each pizza stuck to the stone - I couldn't get any of them off in one piece. But we had donut-shaped pizzas and they were awesome.

        I found a paver in our yard that had minimal dirt on it, I cleaned it up a little, and I used that to elevate the pizza stone. The crust was great, and everything seemed to cook with the right timing. I personally liked the kids' simple pepperoni pizza better than the adults' onion-bell pepper-pepperoni on white sauce, but both were darn good.

        Oh it happened:
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          #8
          Did the paver in the middle of the stone create a cold spot contributing to the middle of the pizza sticking?

          Comment


          • PBCDad
            PBCDad commented
            Editing a comment
            That's a good question. Probably minimal if any, the paver was in there along with the stone warming up for about 30 minutes prior to putting the pizza on. While it likely wasn't heated through, the pizza stone I got also has a profile on the bottom, so I think it wasn't in that much contact with the paver. May be something to play around with though, thanks for the idea!

          #9
          Nice work. looks good.

          I’m guessing there was a thin spot in the middle of the dough and the sauce leaked through which caused the sticking. Been there before.

          Comment


            #10
            Sounds like fun was had. We haven't ventured into this yet but plan to. Thanks!

            Comment

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