Epicurean Encounters

26 Jan 2014

Backyard Pizza

Backyard Pizza

Author: Vintage Wine  /  Categories: Epicurean Encounters  /  Rate this article:

I've always loved the notion of having a wood fired oven in the backyard to make pizzas, roast chickens, bake bread…maybe even do the Thanksgiving turkey, but most wood fired ovens are expensive, think in the thousands of dollars, and take up permanent space in the backyard.  I've researched all kinds of wood fire ovens and once even came close to purchasing one for $3,500.  Yikes!  Yet, I couldn't pull the trigger.  I thought there had to be a simpler solution available.  After much research, I stumbled upon Kettle Pizza (click here), an attachment that fits a Weber grill, that costs less than $250.  It was worth a try at that price.


As soon as the Kettle Pizza arrived, I put it to the test.  The first couple of times I used pre-bought pizza dough from Whole Foods, and I was more interested in making sure I knew how to work the new equipment and fine tune the fire.  I was amazed by using a combination of charcoal and kiawe wood, my Weber with the Pizza Kettle could achieve temperatures of 750F or higher.  Typically a grill just using charcoal can get up to around 550F.  After experimenting with the trial runs and when I finally had time on a weekend, I decided to make pizza from the very beginning, which meant making my own pizza dough.  


Most doughs can be made using just four ingredients:  flour, water, salt and yeast.  There is a science to making dough, and becoming an expert and developing the craft can take years of learning and experience (I recommend this book), but for my first time  it really wasn't hard at all, and the final product was worth it.  I tried making a Neopolitan crust, thin and crispy, but it ended up a little thicker because I didn't form the dough correctly (I told you it can take some practice).  Despite being a tad thicker than I had anticipated, the cooked pizza crust was crisp on the outside, airy on the inside, and had good flavor.  


With homemade pizza the possibilities are endless which also means the wine pairings are endless.  You can do a classic pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella and your favorite topping such as sausage, mushrooms and olives.  You can do a white pizza with olive oil, ricotta cheese and clams.  You can do a gourmet pizza with shredded duck confit and fennel.   Coming up with pizza recipes is fun and creative, and it is something the whole family can enjoy.  We made a variety of pizzas, five different kinds, so there really wasn't a 'right' choice of wine to fit all the different pizzas, but a bottle of 1997 Karly El Alacran (Mourvedre based from Califorina) was pretty good.


For my first attempt of trying to make artisan pizza using the Kettle Pizza, it was fun.  I definitely can fine tune and improve, but even then the results were great.  For sure, I'll be in the backyard making more pizza when I have the chance.

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