Pizza ovens are extremely useful kitchen devices, and they can be used for far more than just pizzas. With high temperatures, a distinctive flame, and a unique cooking environment like no other, professionals can use this piece of equipment to create culinary masterpieces – while amateurs often struggle to match them.
If you don’t want your first few pizzas to turn into crispy, inedible black discs, it’s important to familiarize yourself with some of the best tips and techniques for using a pizza oven properly.
Top 11 Tips and Techniques for Using a Pizza Oven
These are some of the best tips, techniques, and strategies for using your pizza oven effectively:
- Be willing to invest. Whether you’re buying an outdoor pizza oven or something for your indoor kitchen, you should be willing to invest in this new culinary appliance. You can sometimes find small, affordable pizza ovens, but these may not be suited to the task of cooking items at the high temperatures you need. If you want your appliance to last as long as possible, if you want it to cook as effectively as possible, and if you want it to look and feel in line with professional quality, you need to be ready to spend.
- Only use seasoned hardwoods. As with most other types of fire, it’s important to use only seasoned hardwoods for lighting your pizza oven. Hardwoods are less likely to have sap and other problematic elements that can interfere with your pizza oven’s functionality and cooking ability. Additionally, the fact that they’ve been dried in the air means they’ll have less internal moisture, resulting in less smoke. Don’t try to substitute anything for seasoned hardwoods.
- Start 2-2 hours in advance. Experts recommend starting your pizza oven about 2 to 3 hours before you plan on cooking. There are a few good reasons for this. For starters, it takes time to build a fire and have it die down to calm, simmering embers; if you start the fire in advance, you’ll have plenty of time to work to this point. Beginning the process early also buys you more time for food preparation; you can prepare all your pizzas well in advance.
- Keep the oven door open when starting the fire. When first lighting the fire, consider keeping the oven door open. This introduces more fresh air, oxygenating your fire and assisting it in the initial stages of growth.
- Try to keep the fire centered. Later on, try to keep your fire centered by adding wood strategically, combing over the embers, and moving elements when necessary. This allows for much more even heat distribution, assisting you in cooking your pizzas to perfection.
- Test the heat with a handful of flour. When you think you’re ready to start cooking a pizza, test the heat by throwing in a handful of flour. If the flower catches on fire, or if it quickly turns to a crispy black pile, the heat is too high.
- Be ready to move. If you want your pizza to cook evenly, you need to be ready to move it around. You don’t have to keep the pizza constantly on the move, but you should make some adjustments to ensure even heating.
- Use many different toppings and styles. Experiment with a wide variety of different toppings and pizza cooking styles. It’s a great test of your culinary abilities and it can introduce you to some new flavors that you may not have otherwise considered.
- Consider cooking more than just pizza. While the name suggests this oven is only suitable for cooking pizza, the reality is that pizza is only the beginning. There are tons of things you can cook in a pizza oven, including vegetables, bread, and even slow-cooked meats.
- Clean after cooking. When you’re done using the pizza oven, allow it to cool down, potentially overnight, and give it a thorough cleaning. It’s vital if you want to keep your pizza oven in good cooking condition.
- Utilize the ashes. Take out the ashes and use them as fertilizer for your garden instead of just throwing them away!
Finding Your Personal Style
Aside from some safety basics, there’s no right or wrong way to use a pizza oven. You can use yours to perfect the simple art of classic pepperoni pizza, or refuse to cook pizzas entirely for several years, instead focusing on other meats and vegetables. The most important key to success is finding your own personal style. How do you want to use your pizza oven? What types of dishes do you want to be known for? And what unique twists can you include to surprise and satisfy your guests?