‘Creative minds always thrive in adversity’: Author Louise Candlish on her latest (greatest) thriller
‘Creative minds always thrive in adversity’: Author Louise Candlish on her latest (greatest) thriller

Amanda Cassidy

15 underrated Netflix gems that will distract you from the news
15 underrated Netflix gems that will distract you from the news

Jennifer McShane

‘Sleeptember’ and how to create an adult bedtime routine that actually works
‘Sleeptember’ and how to create an adult bedtime routine that actually works

Sarah Finnan

Actor Richard E Grant reveals late wife Joan had lung cancer
Actor Richard E Grant reveals late wife Joan had lung cancer

Jennifer McShane

Kitchen accessories under €30 to get you excited to cook again
Kitchen accessories under €30 to get you excited to cook again

Megan Burns

Lily Collins shares photos of her divine wedding gown
Lily Collins shares photos of her divine wedding gown

Jennifer McShane

‘Guilt and relief’: Inspired by Project Meghan, working mums have this advice for those returning to work after babies
‘Guilt and relief’: Inspired by Project Meghan, working mums have this advice for those returning...

Amanda Cassidy

‘I told my husband ‘they’ve found something suspicious in my brain, we’re going to have our baby tomorrow night”
‘I told my husband ‘they’ve found something suspicious in my brain, we’re going to have...

Amanda Cassidy

6 of the biggest royal scandals skipped in The Crown season 4
6 of the biggest royal scandals skipped in The Crown season 4

Jennifer McShane

PODCAST: Work Rest & Slay with Melanie Morris: Episode 2
PODCAST: Work Rest & Slay with Melanie Morris: Episode 2

Shayna Sappington

Image / Living / Food & Drink

Follow these chefs’ hacks and make pizza outdoors in your barbecue or a DIY wood-fire oven


by Amanda Kavanagh
22nd Jun 2021
blank

There's more than one way to make pizza in the garden, be it on a DIY wood-fired oven, on a regular barbecue or in a specialist outdoor pizza oven. Three chefs share their techniques. 

We’ve all been lured by the curious delights of the middle aisle of certain supermarkets. Each time I scan the ads for incoming random items and spy an outdoor pizza oven, I’m reminded of the wok scene in Intermission; would I get the use out of it?

Of course, there’s more than one way to do anything, so we caught up with three chefs for their advice on making pizza outdoors.

In a DIY wood-fired oven

reggie white pi pizza outdoor pizza oven

Photograph: Al Higgins

Reggie White knows good pizza, as anyone who has eaten his charred, puffy crust creations will agree. Reggie formerly worked his magic in Pi on South Great George’s Street in Dublin, leading the restaurant to be featured on and topping ‘best pizza’ lists in Ireland and Europe, and now a pizza place of his own is in the works.

We wangled our way into his home kitchen last year to photograph him preparing dough and it really was mesmerising to watch. Afterwards, he generously shared his dough recipe with us, and mentioned ambitions to create a garden pizza oven, which he has realised, albeit in a garden on the other side of the world.

“So far, I have built three ovens. Two in my parents’ garden in Abbeyleix and one in New Zealand here during lockdown. In short, it’s all about retaining heat and a good flow of air to create a good convection in the oven.”

While the images on his Instagram give a fair idea of the set up, Reggie is keen to point out that it isn’t ideal. “The oven I built here in New Zealand was built from what we had available in the shed during lockdown. The rationale with the cladding, wood and sand was to find a way to insulate the oven. Sand retains heat and the cladding and timber were simply to contain the sand. The metal part was like an oil drum but it’s for coconut cream delivered to a local factory.”

In Ireland, he has built home ovens with fire bricks from Dineen Refractories, a family-owned company in Laois, and he stresses the floor of the oven must be made of thick, heat-retaining material, like fire bricks, and that these can used for the dome too.

“The pitch of the dome mustn’t be too high as you want the flames to run along the ceiling over the top of the pizza. If the pitch is too high, the effectiveness of the flames is greatly reduced.” For insulation, he has used fibreglass and vermiculite, as the latter won’t crack like concrete does under high heat.

The door itself should only be big enough to get a pizza and logs in and out safely. “If the door is too small, not enough air will get into the oven and the fire needs plenty of oxygen to burn at the high temperatures needed.”

Finally, the flue or chimney for the oven is important for generating ‘draw’, he says. “The taller the flue, the greater the draw. The flue should be positioned at the front of the dome by the door. A tall flue helps the oven burn hotter and cleaner.”

If that all sounds like a little too much DIY for you, Reggie highlights that both Wood Fire Ireland and Dineen Refractories sell DIY kits for building a pizza oven. “The most important part of this is the experiences you will share with friends and family in the garden, it’s not about perfection. I’ve shared some amazing days with friends and family slinging pizzas in my mum’s garden.”

On the barbecue

A high heat, homemade dough and good quality toppings are the foundation of a great pizza, says Dan Cooper, Weber’s Grill Master. The barbecue is a bonus. “You can get your barbecue far hotter than a standard domestic oven,” he explains. “The best pizzas are cooked upwards of 260 degrees / 500F.”

Speed is the other benefit. “If the barbecue is set up correctly and running at a good high heat it could take anything from 2-5 minutes. But preheat your stone in advance for at least 15 minutes and have it at 260 degrees before placing it on.”

Weber Pizza Stone on Charcoal outdoor pizza oven

Dan says there is “no real difference” between cooking a pizza on gas versus charcoal. “Charcoal can have a slower recovery time so be careful not to lift the lid often. I would also allow slightly more preheat time before adding the pizza when using charcoal.”

Tools-wise, ideally you need a pizza stone to distribute heat and fill each pizza with light doughy air pockets, a golden crust and a toasty base. And while chefs are often private about their tinned tomato choices, Dan happily shares he rates canned San Marzano, but that “any good premium brand will do”.

To make a sauce, Dan mixes chopped tomatoes with a “a good dusting of oregano, a dash of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt and black pepper and a couple teaspoons of light brown sugar”, and to bake with grated mozzarella and add a good quality buffalo mozzarella after the pizza has been cooked.

For toppings, Dan’s current favourites are artichoke, black olives, prosciutto cotto and mushroom. “I also believe a good hot chilli oil is essential!”

In the dedicated oven

Gaz Smith Al Higgins Outdoor Pizza Oven
Photograph: Al Higgins

If you’ve been on social media during lockdown, chances are you’ve been served an ad for an Ooni oven, or a pal has shared a post to try win one. Gaz Smith of Michael’s and Little Mike’s has a gas one and rates it as it “heats up so easily, remains an even temperature, and it’s cleaned with a quick wipe to go back into its box”. Although it does require practice, as his first experience below shows.

Quick cooking times is another appeal. “I’ve did one in 68 seconds, but usually it’s around 2 minutes.” For tools, Gaz says you need a peel, and preferably two. “One totally clean to put in the raw pizza – warm and dirty peels will make the pizza stick as you slide it in, and your hard work is undone, and one to rotate and remove the cooked pizza. A digital laser thermometer is nice to have. They cost a tenner and show your heat zones, as the front and back varies by around 100 degrees, it is so useful to see it for yourself.”

Gaz reckons Mutti pizza sauce is “faultless”, and if you have green fingers, homegrown basil is best. “If you’re like me who only has to look at a plant to kill it, then buy it. The planted pot bunches in the shops are good, but I usually murder them within a day.” 

He advises to look for a “not chewy” mozzarella. “I crack mine open an hour before so it’s not too wet. Pay an extra euro for a good D.O.P. buffalo mozzarella, cheap plastic ones clog you up as they cool and harden. Fior di latte or burrata is amazing too.” 

For toppings, if Gaz is going to a place where he knows it’s ace, it’s simple margherita. “Let the pizza chef do their thing. If I’m in the mood for trashy pizza, about eight things – and yes, pineapple too, it’s a great addition and I’m proud of it.” On the side? “Crunchy green salad and a cold beer, and if I’m brutally honest, a side of chips.”  

Featured image:  From Weber’s cookbook Barbecue Bible by Jamie Purviance, with photography by Ray Kachatorian 


 

Also Read

blank
CULTURE
Britney Spears won’t perform again while her father controls her life

She also hit back at her sister and “so-called support system” in a new Instagram post explaining why she’s on...

By Jennifer McShane

blank
CULTURE
All the drama behind the Rebekah Vardy and Coleen Rooney court case

The wife of former England captain Wayne Rooney is being sued for libel after accusing fellow footballer’s wife of leaking...

By Jennifer McShane

The Crown Harry and Meghan
CULTURE
This is why ‘The Crown’ creator refuses to cover the Meghan and Harry drama

Garnering almost 40 Emmy nominations over the course of its first three seasons, ‘The Crown’ show has already proven itself...

By Sarah Finnan

blank
premium FOOD & DRINK, TRAVEL, CULTURE
76 things to do in Ireland this summer

We are BACK and ready to experience all Ireland has to offer this summer. Whether it’s with your best friend,...

By IMAGE

blank
CULTURE
Here’s your first glimpse at the Sex and The City Reboot

The long-awaited Sex and The City reboot ‘And Just Like That’ has begun filming. Here’s a peek behind the scenes.Of...

By Jennifer McShane

blank
CULTURE
‘Confusing’: Scooter Braun speaks out over Taylor Swift ‘feud’

Braun denied that he was a bully and said he gave Swift the option to buy back her masters catalog,...

By Jennifer McShane

Chrissy Teigen
CULTURE
The internet has a lot to say about Chrissy Teigen’s comments on “cancel club”

Chrissy Teigen has divided the internet once again with her take on what being part of “cancel club” is really...

By Sarah Finnan