Saturday, April 3, 2010

Barbecuing a Pizza

The idea of barbecuing a pizza came from that old guy on You Tube.
He deserves the credit for getting me onto this pizza journey. I tried it his way but with a few modifications. I have a charcoal fired BBQ out back that was dying to see a pizza cooked on it. This was back in the stage of using Mitch's dough recipe. I decided that the old guy had something going there and I wanted in on it! He used construction bricks on a Weber but I wanted to refine it a bit. I used the unpolished marble tiles on the BBQ grill to see if this would really work.
After lighting the charcoals and getting them red hot I could already see that this wasn't going to get hot enough being that my BBQ was twice the size of that Weber. I had some seasoned cedar firewood on the side of the house given to me by a friend named Cliff whose tree had died. I was still in the early stages of experimenting but I laid a couple of split pieces directly on the coals and waited for the fire to die down, about 20 minutes. Once the smoke had subsided I watched with hands and eyes to gauge the heat coming off the BBQ. It seemed about right, give or take a 100 degrees and I slid my first pizza onto the BBQ aboard the pizza stone resting on the tiles. I closed the lid and anxiously waited. I thought to myself, how do you clean a BBQ that has pizza burned to it? Do you burn it off? Scrape it off? Dismantle the BBQ and soak it off? I didn't want to think about it and it was time to check it. The cheese hadn't quite bubbled but the crust was a perfect rustic brown. Take it off or leave it? I gave it another minute and finally took it off. It was a near perfect success. The crust had cooked beautifully, but I didn't get the bubbly cheese I had hoped for. The next couple of pizzas were the same. Finally I realized what was happening. I wasn't retaining the heat in the BBQ because of the thin lid made of sheet metal was letting too much of it escape.
That led me on my next mission. I went down to Home Depot, bought a few red clay bricks, and an 18 x 18" piece of ceramic tile and pulled out my tile cutter. Within an hour I had designed, cut and built a brick oven with a top inside my BBQ that fit with the lid closed and ready to bake another pizza. What happened next was a huge success. The dough baked properly and the cheese melted and bubbled and slightly browned. I was real proud of that big bubble in the picture above. My first real pizza bubble. There would be many more to follow.

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