I found a set of plans for a wood-fired pizza oven in an old Sunset magazine several years ago. That was the start. It was built sort of out of sand or something and had a redwood door. You soaked the wooden door of the oven in a big tub of water for an hour or so and then fired up the oven. The theory was that the 900 degree heat wouldn’t burn the door up immediately. Yup. 900 degrees.
We made a few adjustments to the plans, well, quite a few. We made it bigger than they said to, out of fire brick, with a base of concrete block. We had a Victorian cast-iron coal fireplace door for a decorative touch. And we added a fire pit to one side with an arm to hold a bean pot.
We learned a few things. Bigger isn’t necessarily better, takes longer to heat up. The fire pit up in the air, with hot air rising doesn’t give you the oomph that a fire ring does. Essentially, your elbows get warm while your knees freeze.
It takes 2-3 hours to come up to temp but when it does you can cook pizzas in series in about 4 minutes per. And they are truly the best pizzas ever. . . but talk about slow food. The crust is an adjustment on Alton Brown’s pizza crust. A favorite is asparagus, roasted red pepper and smoked salmon with alfredo sauce and of course, pepperoni with a red sauce.
We live in South Texas, so there are about four times a year that this makes sense. Two of those times are when it’s too cold to hang out outside and eat that pizza, even with a fire pit.
So, we filled the fire pit in with a barbecue made by Johnnie the Welder, as our friends refer to him. The man has never made anything light. Never. The box for the barbecue weighs about 300 pounds. He put pole handles on the top so that I could help lift it into place. He did is as a favor to me. Hmm. Gotta talk to that guy. I’ll tell you more about him later. He’s interesting.
Most recently, we added a whole bunch of mass to the arched top with the idea that it would hold heat longer. So, the top is now square, not arched.
And, of course, we added some Day of the Dead tiles on the top.
Now we have to wait for one of those two times when it makes sense to use it . . . for those of you in other parts of the world, that’s sometime in January or February.
Come for dinner?