There is nothing better tasting than a pizza cooked in an outdoor wood-burning pizza oven. However, there is much more that can be cooked in this manner. If you are new to this exciting way of cooking at first there may be some concerns that you may have such as:
- What can you cook in this type of oven?
- The right tools?
- How to care for the outdoor wood burning oven?
The following will put these concerns to rest for you and you will discover that this way of cooking not only allows you to prepare amazing cuisine but it’s a whole lot of fun.
Starting With The Right Pizza Oven
To take full advantage of what you can do with a wood burning pizza oven, you want to start with a quality made oven that will allow you to create the perfect dishes every time. There are several different outdoor pizza ovens models to choose from with the outdoor wood burning pizza oven kits. They each have their own features and benefits. There are some specific features that you are going to want to look for when choosing the one that is best for you, such as:
- The right style:Do you want a built-in pizza oven, countertop style, or portable model?
- Do you want options: Do you want to have a choice for one of these ovens that can be used indoors? Or the opportunity to be able to customize it? Or you may be interested in an outdoor wood burning pizza oven diy option.
- The right size: Are you going to be using your outdoor wood burning oven just for your family? Or are you going to be cooking for larger groups
- Quality brands: If you are going to invest in one of these ovens then you want to be sure you are buying a quality brand such as: Alfa, Ooni, Authentic Pizza ovens, Summerset, Chicago Brick oven, Firepod or WPPO.
- What fits your budget: The choices you make in style size and brand with these outdoor pizza ovens will affect your budget.
Building the Fire
The best choice of wood for this outdoor cooking unit is seasoned hardwoods. It would be best if you began with kindling to get the fire going. For kindle you can use small shaved pieces of the wood, or newspaper.
- Start by placing the wood inside the oven in the shape of a square. Then in the center of this put the kindle. Be sure you are constructing this so it is in the center of the oven floor.
- Next, place two more pieces of wood horizontally on top of this, leaving an opening to add more kindle.
- Then on top of this lay three more pieces of wood.
Make sure to leave space between each piece of wood to allow for air flow.
If you go through these steps prior to lighting the fire you won’t be fighting with the heat from the kindle. Also, the wood will be laid out properly.
Lighting The Fire
There are different items that can be used to start the fire such as:
- Fire starter
These methods will work if you are using newspapers as your kindling. If you are using wood as the kindling it will be too difficult to ignite this with those items. Some individuals use a commercial liquid fire starter. Some pros use a portable propane torch for this. However, if using this method, you need to be very cautious.
Getting the oven up to temperature
One of the common questions is, How long does a wood fire pizza oven take to heat up? The answer is it will depend on the unit's size and model and the type of wood being used. It can take anywhere between 30 to 90 minutes. On average, it can take about 45 minutes.
Be sure to watch the fire carefully, as you will need to keep adding wood as the fire burns down.
Maintaining The Temperature
Throughout the cooking process, you want the oven to maintain its temperature. This is not difficult when you are using a model that has a built-in thermometer. You need to keep adding wood as the temperature drops to keep it at the desired temperature. Be sure to use smaller pieces of wood as these burn faster.
As the oven is coming up to temperature you will see black soot forming on the walls of the oven. This needs to be burned off before starting any cooking. To do this:
- The temperature of the oven has to be brought up to at least 650 degrees.
- You can move the fire around so it can burn the soot off
- Or you can add more wood to the outer edges of the fire
You want to be sure that the heat is distributed evenly throughout the oven. Those that are pros at using these ovens will have different methods for achieving this. Which method is used will partially depend on what is being cooked:
When cooking other dishes besides pizza:
- Push the fire to the back of the oven.
- The temperature in this area will be hotter compared to the front.
- This way when you are cooking different dishes you can push them closer to the fire or further away as needed.
When cooking pizza:
- Keep the fire in the center of the oven floor to help maintain the heat distribution.
- As the embers begin to accumulate, push these to the sides, so they are distributed evenly.
- Ensure that there is always a small amount of flame present in the center of the oven floor.
Well known Outdoor pizza oven brands are constructed with materials that help create and maintain even heat distribution.
No matter what is being cooked it should never be left unattended. Once the food is removed from the oven then the oven can be left to cool down.
Using The Flour Test
As a newbie to cooking pizza in an outdoor pizza oven, you may not be too sure just what temperature you should be using. If it's too hot, the pizza will burn before it has a chance to cook all the way through. A quick test to determine if the oven is too hot is with the flour test. Once you have pushed the embers to the sides, throw a handful of flour onto the cooking surface. If the oven is too hot, then the flour may ignite or turn black immediately. If this is what happens, then the easy solution is to leave the oven door open and test again in a few minutes as you see the temperature dropping as indicated by the thermometer.
Types of Foods You Can Cook
Although pizza may be the first dish that you want to cook, you will soon want to expand your outdoor cooking experience and these are just a few examples of the types of foods that you can enjoy:
- Baby back ribs
- Soups and Stews
- Fire Roasted Vegetables
And the list goes on that includes cooking some amazing desserts. It's not only the spectacular taste you will enjoy, but also the fun you and your family will have in making your special creations while enjoying time outdoors.
The Right Pots and Pans
You are going to want the right cooking equipment for your brick oven cooking. These should be reserved just for this type of cooking. One of the best choices is cast iron. You will want:
- A variety of sizes in diameter and depth in frying pans and pots
- Casserole pots. You can use these where the lids can be used as griddle pan.
- Pots that have lids should be one where the lids create a snug fit. This way the food will not dry out.
Another option is heavy gauge steel
- These are lighter and easier to handle compared to the cast iron.
- Choose pans that have two handles so they can be spun around in the oven.
It is worth buying quality cookware. Otherwise it will soon lose its shape and will discolor easily. Cookware that has coatings is not an ideal choice. The high heat will burn the coatings off and can make the cookware unsafe.
This is a great additional cooking item. Perfect for grilling steak.
A good choice for these is the cast iron. You may want to have a couple of these on hand, especially when you are using a larger oven. This way you can cook two at a time. You will also want to have different sizes. That way when you are cooking for a smaller number of people then you can cook smaller pizzas.
Once you have become more experienced with cooking on outdoor pizza ovens then you can use pans that can take lower heats. By this time you will have mastered controlling the heat of the oven as needed for the different dishes you will be preparing.
Using The Right Tools and accessories
If you want the best cooking experiences when using an outdoor wood-burning pizza oven, then you will also want to use the appropriate tools. You may not use all of them, and some will become your favorites. It is best to experiment with them to see which ones suit you the best. The primary items can be bought as kits, or each item can be purchased individually.
- Gloves: These should be heat resistant cooking gloves.
- Ash hook
- Pizza wheel
- Pizza cutter
- Pizza spinner
- Brush scraper
- Stiff brush
- High heat cooking pans and pots
How To Care For The Outdoor Wood Burning Pizza Oven
After each use the ashes should be cleaned out of the oven. But, the oven will also need more extensive cleaning periodically both inside and out.
After Each Use:
Let the oven cool down once the cooking has been completed
- Removing the ashes
Push the ashes to one side of the oven, and any wood that is still burning to the other side. You can use the ash hook for this.
Once all the ashes have been removed then a stiff brush can be used to remove any residue that is left and any food that may have landed on the oven floor.
The ashes should be removed from the oven using one of the shovels that is made for this. They should be placed in a fireproof container. Some of the ashes may still be hot and should not be discarded until it is absolutely certain they have completely cooled.
- Use A Damp Towel
Once all the ashes have been removed and while the oven is still slightly warm you may want to wipe the floor to pick up any fine dust left from the ashes
- Removing grease stains
These are easier to clean if the oven is still warm. Usually if they are caused by food it has burned off due to the high heat in cooking. What may be left is a stain. These can be cleaned with a sponge that has been soaked in a mixture of white vinegar and water.
- Never use wire brushes as these can damage the stone
- Don’t use any detergents or household cleaning products. The stone could absorb some of the chemicals used in these.
- Avoid using too much water when cleaning stains. The stone could absorb the water and cause it to crack when cooling.
No Hard and Fast Rules
One thing about cooking with these outdoor wood burning pizza oven kits is there are no hard and fast rules for the types of foods that can be cooked or the techniques used. There are basics to follow as outlined above, but every oven will be different based on the brand, model and size. One thing that will not differ is that you will be able to cook many kinds of foods to perfection once you have become familiar with your brick oven.