6.13.2009

Weber Kettle Mods: Firedome (pizza cooked on a kettle)

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Cooking pizza on the grill is filled with challenge and adventure. Mike is a pro and knows this area well. He and Andrew have finely honed the pizza on the grill by grilling the dough, flipping, topping and re-grilling, the final grilling melding all the flavors together.

Inspired by a friend's most decadent pizza oven ripping at 900+°F, I sought to make one of my beloved kettles into something more; an instrument that could cook pizza evenly. Although I failed to obtain my desired 800+ temps, the uniformity of cooking was an equally critical objective that was achieved.

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Getting an old Weber Kettle lid ready for cutting out a "slice" to attach via hinge.


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Made the cuts with a grinder and holes for the hinge with a drill. The jagged edges were buffed with a grinder attachment. I kept the tape on during the cutting to help keep the line and help keep the edges more smooth.


Firedome ignition

I placed the briquettes around the edge of the kettle in order to attempt to get a high temp high in the dome and not too hot at the base of the pizza. I tried once before with just the briquettes in the center and burned the pizza on the bottom before the top could get done. Also, I chose to light the coals once in place with lighter fluid (instead of a chimney and then arranging the lit briquettes).


Clay surface for the Firedome cooking

I chose an inverted clay flower pot drip tray because it was elevated. This enabled the top of the surface to be more easily accessible from the lip of the Weber. The bifurcation of the surface is intentional. This clay was cast in a Shaolin monastery. The halves symbolize the yin and yang of humanity; the balance between eating from the Weber and drinking ale from the keg.


First pizza from the Firedome

The coals were ready in about 30 minutes. I did a quick temp check. I had about 500°F in the high part of the dome and about 450°F on the clay surface. Not quite high as I wanted but went through with the test anyway. I used a basic pizza dough, a simple tomato paste and parmesan and olive oil topping (don't knock the smear of tomato paste, it's nice). I put the pizza on the clay and 8 minutes and 30 seconds later ...


First pizza from the Firedome


Future?? I'm thrilled with the results. Perfectly cooked all around and no burned bottom. I think the relative temps of the dome and surface are what I was looking for with this configuration of briquettes. I would like now to get the temp up a bit. Maybe 700° or so in the dome - maybe lump? Suggestions appreciated via comments. For now, I'm just thrilled. Zach, Jim - podcast time??

More pics of the Firedome project on Flickr.

Other Firedome links:

11 comments:

Zach said...

Sounds like a Podcast to me!

Mike said...

Pro? LOL...thanks for accolade, but I seriously disagree! My problem is I keep adjusting my method versus staying with the same approach.

I think your idea is pure ingenious! In fact, I think I first "found you" last year through your Flickr stream of this project.

I have joked with Zoe before about building a wood burning oven in the backyard. I say joked because I know it will probably never happen! Your idea is certainly a step in the right direction. I believe I happen to have an old kettle lid in the garage too!

Dave said...

Thanks Mike. You have to keep changing things. It's the way to stumble on invention. Always time to go back and revisit what works.

The Columbus Dispatch had a piece on a guy around here who will build a wood burning oven on your site for about $1500. It's been a desire of mine as well.

My only problem with kettles and getting the temp outrageously high is the stability. The 3 leg thing is terrible. The cart that the Peformer (I think) is the way to go. I think I'm going to take the same method and use green wood sometime soon. I need a fire extinguisher first.

CMH Gourmand said...

Dave - you wish is Zach's command - the podcast is up.

Anonymous said...

Boy, that pie just leaps off the screen! Makes me want to run out and buy a flower pot saucer and some fire bricks. But I don't understand why you cut the lid and I don't want to ruin my grill. Could you explain, please?

Dave said...

Thanks!

Lifting the lid to put on a pizza kills the heat. The door minimizes heat loss while placing a pie on the blazing hot surface. That opening should be as small as possible to maintain the heat.

You can find extra grills almost every trash day.

Anonymous said...

Agreed, lifting the lid kills the heat. I would also think that whacking a ginormous hole in the lid would accomplish same.

What about propping the lid up just enough to slide a pizza in the kettle? The vent serves as an observation port. Too easy for science?

Dave said...

Anon, in this post I show the hole in the lid doesn't reduce the heat.

You could prop the lid, it would be annoying to do it 20 times during a party though. I can keep the lid open and it maintains the heat. Got graphs and all.

Sunflowerseedlvr said...

That pizza looks amazing! Would you please share your recipe for the crust and sauce? Thanks a million.

Tigerpaws said...

are the bricks still in there under the clay flower pot ?

seligmansdog said...

In more recent attempts, I've built the fire on one side with no firebricks at all.  Should be some other shots of this in the archives.