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