My wife and I held a pizza pie cook-off last weekend where we supplied the flour, dough and basic toppings. We asked our guests to bring exotic items to personalize their creations and there was even a trophy on the line for the chef who made the best impression on our judge.
What my friends didn't know was that they were actually play-testing my favorite new Weber BBQ attachment – The KETTLEPIZZA.
The KETTLEPIZZA is basically a metal sleeve that fits between the top and bottom of your existing kettle grill that forces heat to come up from the backside, over the top of the pizza and out the front opening. In the past week I've learned that cooking authentic Neapolitan pizza isn't as tough as I thought it'd be and getting the grill over 700° was the key to making it happen.
To be honest, I had 3 rough starts with KETTLEPIZZA and spent about a week fine tuning my tools before getting things dialed in for the party. Below are a few tips that will help you succeed on your first try:
Visit Kettlepizza.com and pick their Weber grill accessory kit called The Serious Eats KettlePizza Special Edition Kit. I know that $399.95 seems pricey but believe me, since it comes with the cold rolled baking steel you'll be equipped for success from the get-go. The cheaper kit that I picked up didn't have the baking steel and I had to purchase it separately which caused my first two attempts to be flops.
The baking steel helps maintain super-high temperatures above your pizza that will help create a crisp bubbly crust. Rather than the heat rising and being lost, the steel stores and radiates the heat for a long, long time.
My first attempt with the grill was disappointing because I thought I could simply add more charcoal for more heat. But because it's impossible to achieve 700° on a Weber grill with charcoal alone, you'll need to add hardwood chunks to the coals once they're heated.
I used lighter fluid in my first run and it created a funky tasting pizza disaster. When initially heating up your charcoal, you'll want to use a device like the Rapidfire Chimney Starter as this will eliminate the need of fluid. Your fires will start faster, they'll smell better and your pizza dough will taste better.
Since you'll be working in an extremely hot environment, I recommend picking up some heat resistant gloves. You'll feel like a superhero with these as you effortlessly reach into the hot zones and move things around.
My glove of choice is called The Heat Guardian and I can say from experience that they really work.
THE PIZZA PIE COOKOFF
Everyone who interacted with the grill felt empowered and had a great time. And since each pie took only 3-4 minutes to bake, we were able to cook 15 in about 2 hours.
Below are some of the standout works of pizza art.
Here, Perre Dicarlo poses with his pepperoni, thyme, mozzarella and olive oil pizza before throwing it into the kettle.
Harriet Grant proudly poses with with her tomato, mozzarella, pesto and basil pizza.
Here is Patrick Morgan working magic on his mozzarella, shredded parmigiano, pan fried pancetta, chili powder and balsamic vinegar pizza.
Joe "The Judge" Raymond analyzes Jason Siadek's tomato, habanero, garlic and olive oil pizza.
Thomas Knudson patiently waits his turn before baking his garlic, sheep feta, carnitas, artichoke and mushroom pizza.
Alex and Diana Lieu prepare their mushroom, tomato, olive oil, mozzarella, butter crust and parmigiano pizza.
John Edgar Park cleverly uses his pocket flashlight as he lovingly tends to his hand crushed tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella, sea salt and olive oil pizza.
Ali Gonzalez poses naturally with his pepperoni, shredded parmigiano, feta cheese, and buffalo mozzarella pizza.
Joe "the judge" Raymond goes over his final notes before making his final decision.
And John Edgar Park wins the day and takes home the worthless grand prize.
- If you already have a Weber grill, this is an absolute no-brainer
- The setup is simple and it is easy to use
- Everyone that sees it in person thinks it's beautiful and wants one
- You can use the baking steel to cook regular BBQ items while you bake pizzas
- I felt safe even though it's fire season and we'd gotten the kettle up to over 800°
- The fact that you have to purchase one of the higher end models in order to get the baking steel makes it a bit on the expensive side.
In the end, this is one badass product and it was well worth the time I put into fine-tuning the system. And even though I've eaten more than a dozen pizzas in this past week alone, I can't wait to use it again.