Jims Galley

Jims Galley

Monday, July 13, 2015

Real Authentic Wood Fired Neapolitan Sourdough Pizza on the Kettle Pizza Weber Grill combo with Prograte.

Kettle using two stones with tombstone mounted to the side
 "Big Mama Margherita" for the saucy and bossy!

26 Second Neapolitan Pizza Baked at 1000 Degree Deck
REVIEW: Kettle Pizza with Prograte Accessory

Margherita made with Sourdough Crust and
Fresh Homemade Mozzarella
"That 70's Cheese Recipe" by JB

58 second bake
Neapolitan Pizza is something that I have strived for but could never achieve in a home oven. Over the years we have tried everything from gas grills modified with bricks to two stage broiler cooking in a conventional home oven. Finally we recently achieved what I thought was the best pie one could make at home and it is delicious, but it is NOT Neapolitan.
This is not an article about the History of Pizza. However it is important that for that those that don’t know exactly what a Neapolitan Pie is, to have a simple definition according to VPN standards (Vera Pizza Napoletana.)

Authentic Neapolitan Pizza
standards, tools and ingredients:
·         Wood fired oven

·         “00” milled flour
·         Yeast \ Levain

·         Cherry Tomatoes

·         Filtered or spring water (not hard)

·         Sea Salt

·         Extra Virginia Olive Oil

·         Mozzarella di Bufala

·         Cooking temperature over 900 degrees Dome

·         Cooking temperature at floor \ Stone approx. 800

·         Cooking time 60-90 seconds

·         Pizza Peel

·         Seasoning may include garlic, basil and oregano. (All fresh)

***Also dough must be kneaded by hand without the aid of electric mixer (at least that is how they did in the old days)
(We are not getting into rise, knead times, etc, we are just covering the basics with this list)


Rim from our first pie, lots of BIG holes!
NOTE: The only thing on this list that we did different is we used fresh cow milk Mozzarella (we use Bufala sometimes but my Italian wife loves fresh Motz, so that is what we used). For Levain I used my personal Chesapeake Bay Sourdough Starter. We also are making here a larger pie than a typical Neapolitan with a bigger cornicione. Crust is medium to thin with a hand crushed sauce, liberally applied.

Jim's Dough: Four cups 00 flour, one cup Chesapeake Bay Sourdough Starter one cup bread flour,(Poolish is, 50\50 water flour), three tablespoons Sea Salt, filtered water. Flour is first Autolysed for approx. 2 hours, then added polish, then more water and salt, hand mix, knead, then cold bulk ferment three to four days. Ball dough second to last day, return to cold storage. Take out and store at room temp four hours before bake. Hydration level in dough is roughly 70%.

NOTE ON OUR Chesapeake Bay SOURDOUGH STARTER: The Chesapeake Bay starter we developed is not a strong sour flavor at all. It has a very light fruity aromatic and light white wine profile. This ads a delicious layered and complex flavor to the dough that is hard to put your finger on while tasting the finished crust. It is wonderful stuff!
Now a quick look at the list above will tell you that everything is doable, the 00 Flour and Water Buffalo Cheese may not be the easiest to get, but you can get it. The BIG wall that we hit trying to produce authentic Neapolitan Pizza is the heat. Typical average home ovens are electric (or gas) and do not reach over 550 degrees and heating elements cycle. Neither an electric nor gas fired oven can produce real authentic Neapolitan Pies. Can you make great tasting Pizza without a wood fired 1000 degree oven? YES! But it is not the same as a pie made by the VPN Standard. The taste and structure of the pie is different and in my opinion, real authentic Neapolitan Pizza is the best. Wood creates the ultimate baking environment with dry, high temperature heat and hints smoke flavor. Plus the ability to use the flame to your advantage for doming and charring the crust is very helpful. There just is nothing else quite like it. 
Jim's sourdough pizza dough with 00 flour
four day old bulk ferment

I have always thought of Building or purchasing a outside brick oven for baking. But my main issues with a wood fired oven (WFO)  are: Cost, Space, Portability and long heating times. These are the reason why I have never had the oven or the pie!
Recently I was researching online to see if there was any new solutions to my wood fired oven dilemma. I came across something that immediately caught my eye had never seen before. It was a device called the “Kettle Pizza” an accessory that simply sits on top of a standard 22 inch Weber grill.  Immediately I was intrigued because I knew how high temperatures can get in both the Weber grill and smokers. In the past, using gas grills we could achieve 700 degree temps. However once we would open the grill cover-there went the heat! So the design of the Kettle Pizza certainly made sense to me. We had one shipped out to our home on Mermaids Bay, very excited to give it a try.

Before we received the Kettle Pizza my thought was that this was a good idea but I probably would have to refuel the grill often in order to keep temps between 700-800 degrees. My guess was that the grill would reach a high max temp quickly then fade to pretty much nothing. But I was wrong!!

Kettle Pizza "Prograte" Includes large thick pizza stone
and rear firebox and floor level
I had my camera crew here to document in real time the cooking of the very first pie. Most importantly, we logged the temperature times and used accurate measurements with an infrared thermometer gun. The temp gun was also extremely useful in determining when to cook your pie and for how long. This will save you tons of trial and error. The official temp gun was also sent to us by Kettle Pizza.

To our surprise, we soon found out the grill maxed out at over 1000 degrees floor, and around 1100 dome temp. We set up this initial burn on the Kettle Pizza to exactly see what it would do, we don’t recommend that you do this at home. We recommend that you use the Kettle Pizza according to the manufactures recommendations . 1000 degrees is not necessary to cook Neapolitan pie. The ideal temp to bake would be a floor temp between 700-800 degrees and a dome upwards of 900 which would bake a pie between 1:30 and 3 minutes.
Ok here we go!  Time to strike the match! Once we lit the wood and coals, we put the Kettle Pizza on top of the Weber including the closed lid.
Time and Temperature Log (with no refueling):

Time            Floor\Stone      Dome

6:25pm             375                 420

6:30pm             635                 660

6:35pm             811                 830

6:40pm            945                1000     

6:52pm            996                1040

7:35pm             785

8:00pm             650

8:35pm             500

Impressive to say the least! Kettle Pizza held temps from 800 to 1000 for over an hour without adding any additional wood or coal. Here is how we built the fire and doing it right will make the difference in your heating performance.
You will need, regular charcoal, hardwood chunks and hardwood split logs (We used oak and hickory)

Bottom of grill, from rear to both sides charcoal, then a few hickory chunks. Then one piece of split hardwood on each side. Floor\stone level, rear firebox hickory chunks and one piece of split wood plus a wood shaving. There was no coal or wood directly under the stone.
Place the prograte on the Weber to determine the space under the pro grate firebox. Place enough coal and wood so that it reaches the bottom of the prograte firebox. Also in the Webber place coal on both sides of the grill, place several hardwood chunks, then place a piece of split hardwood on top. In the firebox put in some hardwood chunks to the top of the firebox then get a piece of split hardwood that fits perfectly on top of the firebox and is just touching the stone.
 For this demonstration, I purchased all of our charcoal, split wood and wood chucks from a local major grocery store chain right here on the Eastern Shore. You can get these items just about anywhere and you don’t need that much.
Once lit, the temperature came up very quickly. If you don’t have a temperature gun, get one they are cheap (15-30 bucks) extremely useful in determining when and for how long to bake your pie.

First Pie (see video below)
 Cook time 2:18
Temperature 8oo-850 degrees at stone\floor.
Pie Prep: We simply patted out the dough, no tossing, and placed on pizza peel. Added sauce, cheese, topped with fresh basil and EVOO. That's it. After bake, we then put just a dash more olive oil before serving.
A big super saucy tomato Motz and olive oil family style Pie! Just fun stuff!!
The very first pie did turn out delicious, a traditional Margareta and we loved it. The pie was not perfect, I let the pie rest to long on the stone before doming it so the bottom crust was fairly black. I should have baked the pie on the stone for about a minute, then domed the pie for close to another minute. This is mostly what I did for the other pies we baked and it works great.
BLACK BOTTOM TIP: If your stone is too hot and your bottom crust is cooking too quickly, remove with peel and place the pie in a pan, then back on the stone. This will keep the bottom from burning. However, the best is to just time the pie right, if your stone is 800+, only have the pie on it for 30 seconds or so, then dome it. The bottom cant burn while on the peel.
First Pie
I wanted to experiment with my trusted pizza screen. Cooking at high temperatures I don’t like to have flour or corn meal on the stone, but it is necessary to transfer the pie easily off the peel.  I had an idea to build the pie on the Pizza screen as a way to transport it to the stone without the aid of additional flour. All I did was use the pizza peel to move the pie to the Kettle Pizza stone. Once on the stone I let it back for about 45 seconds, then used the pizza peel to slide the pizza off the screen back onto the Kettle Pizza stone to finish baking for another minute or so. This was a simple trick to get the pie on the stone without having to use ANY flour or corn meal. It worked and was interesting.
Flavor and texture profile.
Medium charred crust with light lepording on the cornicione. Huge air In the rim lots of bubbles throughout.  Outside crust is very crunchy with super soft interior. Sourdough crust with 00 flour is very light, loads of flavor. Sauce highly aromatic bright red with strong hints of basil. The dough and sauce are so good this recipe makes for a perfect marinara pie. You don’t really even need cheese.
By looking at the pics you can see we like our pies a little saucy. I am using my pizza sauce recipe that is simply San Marzano tomatoes, fresh garlic, fresh basil, oregano, sea salt and pepper with a little EVOO mixed in.
The char on the bottom turned out nice, I personally don’t like it any more charred. The lepording on the pies were decent and the cornicione was large and full of nice airy bubbles. My dough is made with 00 flour and my Sourdough culture from the Chesapeake Bay. We also did a four-day cold bulk ferment and started with an autolyze of two hours.
What a great addition. This really did aid in getting the top char and cooking balance just right. Check out our first try with the Baking Steel, 90 second Pie, VERY good!!

Baking Steel lowers the dome, increase top char extremely well!
San Marzano tomato pie with fresh slabs of Eastern Shore Beefsteaks on top
with fresh Basil from the front yard.
Marinara pie with accidental Motz
Another great thing about the Kettle Pizza!

Is we now have a wood-fired oven for baking all sorts of our favorite dishes. I had prepared some sourdough bread dough and thought it would be a great idea to throw a couple of baguettes on the Kettle Pizza once the temp got down to 500 and below. That is exactly what we did and it produced the best bread I have ever baked. Super crunchy crust with a soft middle and lots of bubbles. Perfect bread, all our camera crew and guest raved!
 Loading two of Jim's Chesapeake Bay Sourdough Baguettes
into the KettlePizza
Jim's Bruschetta with Sourdough Baguettes
made in Kettle Pizza wood and coal fired oven
While we are at making Horse Divers, check out this
Caprese Salad Wayne and I made with the fresh homemade Mozzarella.
We also used fresh Eastern Shore Jumbo Beefsteak Tomatoes.
The sauce Wayne brought back from Italy,
sooooo good! (Basil from our front yard)
Here is our fresh Basil infused homemade Mozzarella, truly fantastic!
So when you plan your pizza party, remember there are lots of other things you can bake while you have that awesome wood fire!

My favorite floor temp for pies 750 to around 850 degrees


The Kettle Pizza far exceeded our expectations. The benefits are clear:

·         Wood fired oven that is incredibly inexpensive compared to building a brick oven.

·         Portability, you can set this up anywhere and take it anyplace

·         Ease of use, super easy to dispose of the burned wood and coal

·         Easy to refuel if necessary

·         Versatile, if you already have a standard Webber grill you are half way there

·         Safe, the fire is very contained.

·         Super quality construction and it is made in America

·         Awesome stone. The thickest and largest stone I have ever cooked with

·         Large entrance to oven, never a problem transferring pizza from peel



·         Although the Kettle Pizza is capable of easily reaching temperatures of over 1000 degrees we don’t recommend doing so. For our baking, the optimal temperature is a floor between 700-800 degrees.

·         Only let the pie rest on the stone for 30 seconds before using the peel to rotate the pie. Check the bottom of the pie using the peel often to make sure it does not burn.

·         With a 700-800 degree floor, you probably will only have the pie on the stone for about two minutes, then start doming off the pie.

·         If you like more lepording, simply dome the pie more often and place for a short period over the flame coming off the rear fire box.

·         ALWAYS have a water hose or fire extinguisher nearby when baking on a wood fire.

·         Set the lid of the Weber grill with the vent facing the back. Use the top and bottom vent to control air flow.

** WOOD- Use good high heat output hardwood like Hickory, Apple, and Oak. These are the woods we used as well as Cherry.

** SAFETY- Keep children, small pets, large pets, kick balls, footballs, most people in general away from any high heat wood burning oven. Have someone keep an eye on the oven at all times during all preparation. Place wood burning oven a safe distance away from any flammable device, homes, cars, etc. Use common sense when cooking with fire. When finished baking, after the coals die down remove the Kettle Pizza carefully using the handles an protective oven mittens, and replace the lid on the Weber, seal off both vents and the remaining coals and heat will die out quickly. The next day dispose of the remaining ash and soak with a garden hose to make sure any possible embers are fully extinguished.

NOTE: Heat measurement we used a, BAFX Products - Non Contact - Infrared (IR) Thermometer W/ Adjustable Emissivity (-58F - +1,022F) - W/ Pointer Sight. Accuracy of +/- 1.5%
Saucy 2 minute Margherita, huge airy Cornicione (Rim crust)

One of my FAVORITE specialty Pizza's we made on the Kettlepizza
"Muffaletta Pizza"
The olive salad was put on only during the last 45 seconds of bake
Muffaletta Pizza made with Neapolitan Dough

We LOVE Pizza!!!
We ate to much!
Sailor loves Kettle Pizza.......Box.

Jim Baugh


A must watch
Ed Levine Talks Neapolitan Pizza with Enzo Coccia and Maurizio De Rosa
In Italy

An associate and friend of mine just got back from Italy where he went to a pizza party in Naples where “Enzo” the world famous Italian pizza maestro hosted the party. A “Night of 100 pizza’s” and it was! The report back from Naples was that the pies were fantastic and a huge variety. In the picture above, Enzo is on the left. I came across this video because it was just classic regarding two Italian chefs trying to explain ovens, cooking times, etc. So incredible! Funny too! My buddy said a lot of great things about his time with Enzo and also said he did not speak a word of English, and neither did his pizza book.

"Soggy Pizza is a historical necessity". What a great line!

A great time had by all!
"Night of 100 Pies" Naples Italy

Photo and video Credit Wayne Bradby

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