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Calling all pizza experts

I had my second go at making pizza on the egg tonight. Came out okay and was good the first time too, but I still haven't mastered the approach. I have a large egg and use the Kamado Joe plate setter which is basically a pizza stone that can be placed on top or down below just like legs up/down. Anyway the first time I cooked at 600 degrees direct right on the plate setter stone. Crust cooked very quickly and just started to burn at 10 minutes. This time, same approach but I put another stone on top of the plate setter, so basically double stacked stones. Did the first pizza at 500 but it took a long time and didn't really crisp up that great. Did the second one at 600-650 and it cooked really quickly. The third at 650 and it came out the best. For all of them, the middle of the pizza was done but seemed like a lot of liquid collected there and made it "soupy". I am thinking the excess water was from the green peppers or the good quality cheese I used that was really moist. What have you guys found to be the best approach to pizza? I'm having a work party in a few weeks and I'm thinking about a make your own pizza bar where I can fire them in the egg but I'm still not set on the best approach.

Comments

  • njlnjl Posts: 757
    By soupy, do you mean the crust got soggy, or you just had a lot of liquid up on top of the crust?  If the former, one possible solution is to pre-bake the crust for 1-2 minutes before topping it.
  • CGW1CGW1 Posts: 323
    I'm baking pizzas at 500, indirect and the my pizza stone raised off the main grate, 10 min pies crunchy crust, cooked through and toppings nicely baked. I think your temps are to high. Back your temp down you should be fine.
    Franco

    Ceramic Grillworks
    www.ceramicgrillworks.com
  • BBQMavenBBQMaven Posts: 1,041
    Buckeye
    When you used two stones, did you put a spacer between then to provide an air gap? 
    Kent
    Madison MS
  • ZippylipZippylip Posts: 4,277

    Cooking direct on the setter at felt level will never work.  If you’re going to go with only one stone surface the trick it to get it as high up in the dome as possible.  This will do 2 things, get the bottom of the stone further from the fire so the crust doesn’t burn and get the top closer to dome which will speed up radiant cooking of your toppings, bringing those 2 times together will yield a consistent cook.  If you’re going to use two stones, as someone already mentioned, place a spacer between the two (the green egg feet work great for this).  Soupiness is caused by water leaching out of fresh veggies and/or fresh mozzarella.  You can solve this several ways, as for the veggies you can precook or salt them & leave on a cooling rack for several hours.  For the mozzarella, if you use fresh you can slice it down and press between weighted plates lined with towels.  When the towels are soaked, the cheese is sufficiently dry.  If you’re going to venture into a pizza bar at a party I’m assuming you have visions of impressing you friends/family with some of the best pizza they’ve had.  If so, I’d keep it simple and get large bags of pre-shredded whole milk mozzarella at Sams or other big box store.  It’s very dry & melts beautifully & will assist in avoiding puddling.   Slice your veggies very thin and either sauté them or dry with the salt method.  Don’t worry about them being too salty either, the water that pours out of the veggies will also carry most of the salt away.  By the way this works for veggies like tomatoes, eggplant, zucchini and so forth, not so much for hard veggies like peppers.  For peppers it’s best to slice extremely thin or pre sauté.  Here’s a link to a thread with some other general pizza tips.  It was mainly for homemade dough but you can ignore that and read some of the other things that may be helpful.   <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />

     

    http://eggheadforum.com/discussion/987401/stage-two-pizza-dough-with-o-verbose-commentary

     

     

     

     

  • jfm0830jfm0830 Posts: 875
    I have had very good luck with my pizzas on the Egg. My setup has been Plate setter legs down and pizza stone on the platesetter. I heat the Egg up to 600 degrees with the pizza stone in and once it is stabilized at 600 I let it stay there for 30 minutes before I throw on a pizza. The pizzas take about 5:15 to 5:30 to cook. The toppings are cooked through and the crust is a crispy golden brown.

    Now people have suggested I make two improvements, but I've yet to try them out. They are similar in what they hope to achieve. The first is to put some shims between the plate setter and the pizza stone (pennies, BGE legs, crumpled foil etc.). The second is to flip the plate setter to legs up with the s/s grate on the legs and pizza stone on the s/s grate. I will try these sometime, but my pizzas have been coming out so good I hesitate to mess with success.
    BBQ Website: grillin' & smokin'

    Middlesex County, MA
    Two Large BGE's & Too Many Eggcessories to Count
  • Is your pizza sauce home made or out of a jar? I make my own with tomato sauce, but I cook it down to very thick and concentrated consistency. I also use two stones and the mini's woo as the spacer. I also cook pizza between 450 and 500. Takes a little longer but a cooked thru crust without a burnt bottom is the reward. Good luck
    Eggin in SW "Keep it Weird" TX
  • Thanks for the great comments. To clarify, there was no spacer between the 2 stones - so the cooking surface was felt-high - just 2 stones on top of each other. @Zippylip, if I raise the cooking stone high into the dome as noted, should I keep it direct or leave the bottom stone so as to cook indirect? I assume something simple like bricks can be used the raise it up? Any issues with bricks at these temps? I noticed my paver stone cracked in half after last night's cook. Your pizza looks amazing - I might have another dry run using your approach - thanks.

    I figured the veggies and cheese were sweating out a lot of water - I tried to dry the peppers as much as I could, but still it wasn't enough. The cheese was very moist and I did use a jar pizza sauce that was more watery as well. Would making a homemade batch of sauce cooked down to a thicker consistency help on the water pooling issue?

    For the pizza bar, you're right, I'm going to keep it simple and just use the big bags of mozzarella that tend to be dry.

    I have already given them a big disclaimer that this is a work in progress and might not work out that great and I'll have a contingency in place. Obviously, I'd rather not run into that.
  • ShelShel Posts: 1
    I searched high and low and couldn't find a pizza stone in my city, so I went without. The crust was way overdone but the taste was incredible! With the help of Twitter friends, I finally located a stone and I can't wait to make my next pizzas. I've only owned my Egg for a month, so I am experimenting like a mad woman. So far, no disappointments, not even the pizza. Thanks for all the tips.
  • I have found the best way is grate then pizza stone at 550°. We are going turkey and dressing pizza on friday. Should be awesome.;
  • ZippylipZippylip Posts: 4,277
    edited November 2012

    Regarding your one vs. two stone question, if you raise it high (fire bricks standing on end work well) then you may dispense with one of the stones.  Given that you are just starting out however I wouldn't mess around with that set up  and I'd rather stick with the plate setter legs down, spacers then stone - this will give you the most consistent temperature on your stone and is the method least likely to end in disaster.  Again on the peppers, they are the most difficult of the veggies to deal with in terms of moisture & in my experience the best way to address it is slice them very thin or pre-saute them.  If you put them on fresh & sliced thickly they will water down your pie to some extent every time, there's no way around that.  Regarding the sauce, toss the jarred crap & get yourself a can of whole plum tomatoes, cut them in half & put in a strainer & let all that water drip out; somewhere on the order of 1/2 that can is unnecessary (for pizza anyway) water.  Likewise you can strain diced or crushed tomatoes to rid them of excess water - this all depends on the brand and quality of course, some crushed tomatoes are the perfect consistency for pizza right out of the can.  Add your own seasonings to taste.  For the pizza bar, having things like pre-cooked & crumbled sausage, pepperoni, sauteed mushrooms & other favorite toppings in big bowls will help with the flow, you don't want people cutting and otherwise making toppings...  try some different accent cheeses as well (like crumbled feta, goatcheese, shredded cheddar and so forth).  A great topping is caramelized onions.  Also, don't forget fresh herbs, a nice bowl of fresh basil always works well

    Edit: regarding 2 stones directly on top of each other, that's essentially the same as one thick stone, still no good.  You want an air space between the two stones, evern the 1/2 inch or so created by the egg feet is sufficient, the first stone deflects the heat & the second stone is then free to come to a uniform temperature that you need.  The deflector stone (or in most cases the plate setter) will have hot spots and that part of the pizza would burn first if only using one stone.  Stacking one ontop of the other transfers that hot spot to the second stone defeating the purpose of 2 stones.  At felt level always use a spacer.

     

  • Solson005Solson005 Posts: 1,841
    edited November 2012
    Do you have a picture of your pizza before or after the cook? You might have just had too much toppings/ sauce. The thin crust pizzas we make have just enough sauce to cover the dough but not pool it on and light on the toppings. My setup is pretty typical platesetter legs down, little green feet, then the pizza stone. I've had it higher on bricks and the top cooks faster than the dough. I like this setup best for multiple pizzas. If you are just doing one or two then experiment away and find a method you like best. This picture is from a pizza party where we did 13 pizzas so we had a dome temp of 500° to make sure we had enough lump to do all the pizzas. 

    Large & Small BGE, CGW Two-Tier Swing Rack for BOTH EGGS, Spider for the Wok, eggCARTen & and Cedar Pergola my Eggs call home in Edmond, OK. 
  • EggcelsiorEggcelsior Posts: 8,511
    Zippylip said:

    Regarding your one vs. two stone question, if you raise it high (fire bricks standing on end work well) then you may dispense with one of the stones.  Given that you are just starting out however I wouldn't mess around with that set up  and I'd rather stick with the plate setter legs down, spacers then stone - this will give you the most consistent temperature on your stone and is the method least likely to end in disaster.  Again on the peppers, they are the most difficult of the veggies to deal with in terms of moisture & in my experience the best way to address it is slice them very thin or pre-saute them.  If you put them on fresh & sliced thickly they will water down your pie to some extent every time, there's no way around that.  Regarding the sauce, toss the jarred crap & get yourself a can of whole plum tomatoes, cut them in half & put in a strainer & let all that water drip out; somewhere on the order of 1/2 that can is unnecessary (for pizza anyway) water.  Likewise you can strain diced or crushed tomatoes to rid them of excess water - this all depends on the brand and quality of course, some crushed tomatoes are the perfect consistency for pizza right out of the can.  Add your own seasonings to taste.  For the pizza bar, having things like pre-cooked & crumbled sausage, pepperoni, sauteed mushrooms & other favorite toppings in big bowls will help with the flow, you don't want people cutting and otherwise making toppings...  try some different accent cheeses as well (like crumbled feta, goatcheese, shredded cheddar and so forth).  A great topping is caramelized onions.  Also, don't forget fresh herbs, a nice bowl of fresh basil always works well

    Edit: regarding 2 stones directly on top of each other, that's essentially the same as one thick stone, still no good.  You want an air space between the two stones, evern the 1/2 inch or so created by the egg feet is sufficient, the first stone deflects the heat & the second stone is then free to come to a uniform temperature that you need.  The deflector stone (or in most cases the plate setter) will have hot spots and that part of the pizza would burn first if only using one stone.  Stacking one ontop of the other transfers that hot spot to the second stone defeating the purpose of 2 stones.  At felt level always use a spacer.

     

    Yeah, what Zippylip said. 

    One option is to grab San Marzano tomatoes and use them right out of the can(crush and strain) with minimal seasoning(clove of garlic and fresh basil, s&p, like a margherita, as they give you a nice sweet, acidic, tomato-y flavor w/o the need to concentrate them via reduction. Spread thinly to avoid the pooling. You can still do a traditional sauce with the San Marzano's, getting a very rich tomato flavor. The taste of these tomatoes allows one to use less sauce, which will help guard agains pooling. However, they can be double the cost of "standard" tomatoes from the traditional brands.

    Vegetable-wise, you can cut up veggies and let them sit uncovered for a few hours to allow for evaporation. This can help keep them "fresher" on the pizza than sauteing. It's a matter of preference.
  • ZippylipZippylip Posts: 4,277
    One option is to grab San Marzano tomatoes and use them right out of the can(crush and strain) with minimal seasoning(clove of garlic and fresh basil, s&p, like a margherita, as they give you a nice sweet, acidic, tomato-y flavor w/o the need to concentrate them via reduction. 
    In addition to that, another great brand is Cento.  I made a Sicilian with a can of Cento Crushed tomatoes on Saturday, the consistency (and flavor for that matter) is absolutely perfect right out of the can - and they are truly crushed having semi-decent sized pieces of whole tomato as opposed to some brands that more or less resemble puree.  I used a slotted spoon to remove the tomatoes from the can & put on the pie & not a drop of water dripped through; these tomatoes are so good & sweet I only added salt, pepper & some dried basil. If they are available where you are, givem a try, far less expensive than real San Marzano tomatoes & right up there in quality
  • Thanks all - great advice.I did plan on having a number of bowls of toppings all set up to prevent chaos from ensuing. I'll either saute them or allow them to sit out and dry for a while first. Or I'll opt for something easier than mass pizza making! Unfortunately, pork is off the menu which limits things.

    I bought my egg pre-assembled from the dealer and didn't get the ceramic feet. Any good substitutes?

    @Solson005, yes I think too much sauce/toppings was part of the problem. For your Baker's Dozen cook, how long did it take in total? Since I will have a big group I was curious of the lump burn situation. I saw another post a few weeks ago on that but I was first trying to see where I went wrong on the pizza itself.

    In the event the lump burns up, is it possible to load more into a hot egg? Is this a no-no or are there any issues I'm not thinking of, besides moving the extremely hot platesetter/stone?
  • Solson005Solson005 Posts: 1,841
    I think it took a little over two hours cooking time. I haven't ever added more charcoal so I can say for sure but if you do that plate setter will be too hot for just welding gloves or atleast the ones I have. I would hate to have you burn yourself or drop it mid cook. I would have one person overseeing the pizza making and one person just in charge of cooking them on the egg. As far as a substitute for the feet one fellow egghead posted some ceramic spacers for pots that I believe he found at Walmart. I'll see if I can find the post. Other people use copper plumbing elbows 1".
    Large & Small BGE, CGW Two-Tier Swing Rack for BOTH EGGS, Spider for the Wok, eggCARTen & and Cedar Pergola my Eggs call home in Edmond, OK. 
  • Using fresh veggies like peppers, onions, mushrooms, etc will cause some problems because they will render out their liquids and make a soupy pie.  If you pile toppings high you will have an even bigger problem with cooking evenly.  I will carmalize my onions and precook my veggies for more flavorful and less wet results.  When using fresh tomato slices keep them thin and place on the very top.  Getting the dough right is the key.  Everyone has their own personal preference of how the dough should finish.  I do not like gooey white dough, but my wife loves it.  I like my pizza well done, very golden brown and crispy.  I make my pies thicker because of the longer cook time and I use fire bricks under my stone.  The most important thing is to let your setup get hot.  Once you get to your temp range and it stabilizes let it go 30 to 40 minutes longer to let the inside setup soak in the heat.  Our old stone pizza ovens used to take an hour to heat up before using.  Some things you just cannot hurry.

    Simple ingredients, amazing results!
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