I've waxed rhapsodic on more than one occasion about the combined power of the Kettle Pizza and Pizza Steel. But not everyone has a coal grill. For some folks, the convenience of gas simply trumps the flavor and heat advantages you get from live coals. We tested two models at opposite ends of the price range that promise to produce wood-fired Neapolitan-style results with nothing but a propane tank as the fuel source.
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I imagine that if my rice cooker got it on with my Roomba, their offspring might look a bit like the new Breville Crispy Crust countertop pizza oven, a new plug-and-go appliance that promises "professional brick-oven results right in your own kitchen." Considering how poorly our testing of previous countertop pizza cookers has gone, we weren't holding out too much hope of the Breville contraption producing anything but middling results. Happily, I can report that the oven indeed doesperform as advertised, pumping out crisp-crust 10-inch pies in about 7 minutes, crisp bottom crust, decent charring and all.
Good news: we finally got some good results out of the KettlePizza after-market insert that supposedly turns your kettle grill into a wood-burning pizza oven. Strike that, we actually got great results. In fact, I'd even say the pies I've been pulling off my grill for the past few weeks have been some of the best I've ever made at home. This time, we've tried out a few different inexpensive hacks to modify the existing insert into something that really produces a great pie. By the time we were through, we were pulling out neapolitan-style pies that cooked through in a mere two to three minutes, producing excellent charring, a moist, cloud-like interior, and a crackly, blistered crusts.
We tested the KettlePizza insert back in 2010 when it first came out and were not extremely impressed with the results. Since that early look, the inventor, Al Contarino has jumped into the conversation to let us know that he's come up with a new and improved model that should address many of the problems we had with the old one. We were all too happy to give the new model another shot. Here's how it went down.
While pizza stones like the one we tested last week are pretty popular, they have their drawbacks: they're bulky, heavy, and a little pricey. How does a cheaper, thinner, lighter aluminum pizza pan compare?
Over the course of my next few columns, I'll be testing a variety of cooking surfaces to see how they perform. We'll start the testing with a cheap, basic pizza stone that's 13 inches in diameter and less than 1/2 inch tall.
Yesterday I mentioned in passing I'd give you a run-down of the "away game" pizza-making kit I dragged over to a friend's to do a tasting flight of four pies. If you make pizza at home already, you've probably got all the junk you'd need. Still, if you're curious, here's my tool bag, after the jump.
If you're looking for a gift for a pizza lover, you've just hit the jackpot. Here are our top suggestions to please your favorite pizza devotees, from Slice-tested home pizzamaking tools to ingredients to books, as well as pizza experiences your loved one will never forget.
As I said earlier today, I believe you can always pick up tips from an experienced pizzamaker, no matter how much of a pie prodigy you think you are.* Something simple I learned during my Pizza a Casa experience? Use a spice/cheese shaker to dust your work surface with flour.
To get a good, crisp, well-charred undercarriage on a pizza, you need to have some means of transferring it to a blazing-hot surface (like a pizza stone or a grill) without any intervening pan. The best way to do this is with a peel—the long handled tool with a flat paddle on the end that pizzaioli use to deposit and retrieve pies from hot ovens. Most professionals use extremely long peels with heavy-duty, rounded metal heads to poke their pies at a safe distance from the mouths of their 1,000°F wood-burning, fire-belching ovens. But what about the rest of us?
One-Stop Kitchen Shop: Ever check out the string of kitchen-supply stores on the Bowery near Houston? No? Well, you're in for a treat. Like Chef Restaurant Supply (top), they're open to the public and have all sorts of neat gadgets (above, left and right) that the average home cook would never need. That doesn't mean it's not fun to browse, though. If you were to describe life as a cycle that comprises sleeping, eating, and working (along with some other fun stuff thrown in to break up the monotony), then there are two obvious "depot" superstores that have us...