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It's Pizza night - first time on a Kamado

I just bought an Acorn Kamado grill to see how I'd like Kamado cooking. Tonight was my first night trying it for pizza. I make pizza a lot. I really enjoy it. For pennies, the whole family can have a custom made dinner, plus it's a great way to use up leftovers and clear the pantry/fridge. It's also wonderful for entertaining as people can make their own creation and within minutes have a custom meal. Tonight was low key. One kid is over at a friends and my wife and I are tired from a day of soccer games and a neighborhood yard sale. Perfect opportunity to try out the new Acorn. I'm considering this as a baseline for future experiments with cooking pizza this way. I intentionally went for more of a fastball down center plate rather than branching out and pushing boundaries in any way.

The pizza started Thursday with the dough. I enjoy a flavorful crust with good chew. My preference is a 72 hour cold rise. I didn't have that this week so it was 48 hours. Here are the basic ingredients -- basic recipe I've worked on for years of King Arthur Bread Flour, yeast, kosher salt, EVOO, warm water and brown sugar. Yes, brown sugar. This is a whole different discussion but it began with a life changing pie from the Mellow Mushroom and finding out they use Molasses (I think) and my wife preferring a sweeter crust, so killing 2 birds with 1 stone (so to speak) I began using brown sugar. It works great and tastes great. I used less this time anticipating a higher temp cook.

First I add the warm water, yeast and brown sugar and let the yeast wake up.

Then I add the flour, salt and EVOO.

After that, let the Kitchen Aid do it's thing and knead the dough into a ball. I had to add a few tablespoons of flour to get the dough to come together.

I then did a quick bulk rise and placed the dough in our oven with the bulb on to get a bit of temp. I took the pooch on a walk and when I got back (30 min. or so) had this. Not doubling in volume but enough since I'm going to let the dough rise in the fridge for a few days.

I then partitioned the dough into 3 balls, put those into storage which is just a plastic sealable tub sprayed with Pam and placed the dough into the fridge for a few days.

Fast forward to today. We take the dough out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter. It begins growing in no time and large bubbles start forming. A quick lift of the lid on the dough reveals a strong beer scent. 1 more day would be perfect but I can't wait for the usual 72 hour slow rise.

It's sauce time. First thing first, I get the bulk charcoal going in the Acorn and heat it up to 275-300. I just did charcoal today -- no smoking wood. Like a stated earlier, I wanted a baseline. I may experiment with adding smoking woods later this summer, but for today charcoal is enough. I wanted to add some flavor to the sauce from the grill to maximize the grilled aspect. Even though I didn't add smoking wood, I still have lump oak charcoal glowing bright. There's smoke, so therefore there's flavor. Let's smoke the sauce!! Here's the ingredients -- Roma tomatoes, a shallot and a head of garlic with EVOO and S&P.

An hour later at ~275-300 results in this - and it smelled incredible! Had a neighbor come over at this point to see what was on the grill. :thumbup1: The sauce was the undisputed hit of the night. It was really amazingly deep tasting. This with some really good meatballs on some spaghetti would be absolutely crazy good :001_wub:

My neighbor goes home to grab some dogs and burgers so while we get the Acorn up to grilling temp I finish the sauce. First, more garlic and red pepper flakes.

Next, use a stick blender to whiz up the roasted tomatoes/shallot/garlic and add some red wine along with some herbs. Later this summer this will certainly be fresh herbs from the garden but we just planted the herb garden so dried it is for tonight. Yes, in that cup is all of the tomatoes, shallots and garlic we roasted blended up.

About the time my neighbor finishes his burgers and dogs we have cooked the sauce into this. At this point my wife comes down, takes a whiff of all that's going on and asks me to marry her again :biggrin1:.

It's time to open the vents on the Acorn, ramp the heat up and make some pie. We toss a pizza stone on the grill and open the vents. Here are the ingredients we're going to use for 3 different pizzas - one for my son, one for my wife and then mine. This is really a fun part of making pizza -- everybody can have just what they want.

The Acorn is up to ~500. I know people go nuts at 600+ but this is my first try. I'm starting at 500 expecting the temp to drop a good 50 degrees getting the pizza on the stone. I usually do 425 in the kitchen oven and all of my experience is at that temp so I don't want to take a huge jump in temp without know what it'll do to what I'm used to. First up is my sons pie. Straight up pepperoni. Sauce, mozzarella and some parmesan reggiano off the microplane. We toss it on the Acorn, close the hood as fast as we can and let the temp come back up. At that point I realize a weakness in the kamado as a pizza oven -- you can't see the pie as it cooks and it drops temp rapidly when you take a peak.

Crisp crunch cutting through this guy. There's not a scrap left so I guess my son approves. :tongue_sm

Next up, my lady's pie. This is light cheese, light sauce, prosciutto, feta and fresh pineapple. Sort of a fru-fru Hawaiian.

Finally, my pie. I'll experiment on my pie and do things I won't do on the Mrs. and kids pie because, let's be real, I want their pie to be perfect and I'll eat something even if it's not. So, I wait a bit and let the acorn fire up to ~550. Way hotter! Let's see what happens. This is the garbage pie -- you know, whatever is left throw it on. I made some happy accidents with this. I put way too much sauce on as I wanted to use what was left. This created a surface the toppings just slid off of as shook the raw pie onto the stone. I was disappointed at first, but live and learn. However, the final result was AWESOME! The cheese slid off to sit on the blazing hot stone as did the toppings (both pepperoni and prosciutto). This left some of the crust lightly dressed and some of the toppings being seared like crazy. Both turned out awesome as the crust bubbled up to give some lovely texture and the cheese turned into some really cool fried cheese thing that was awesome. When it came off I hit it with a healthy dose of Togarashi and a grate of parm. It ain't pretty, but it was super tasty. The crust was crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle. The smoked sauce was really prevalent and the seared toppings all worked together to make a really rich and satisfying meal. I only got 1 piece down as I had sampled the other 2 and was already full. The higher temp did some neat things and I'm going to start at ~500 next time.

Takeaways -- higher temp adds flavor. I'm sure there's a limit, but I will start higher next time. 2) the Acorn is awesome fun, totally worth the money and I'm so glad I got it. 3) 72 hours on the slow rise. The extra flavor is worth it. 4) I want to dig deeper into the grilled/smoked sauce. Next time I'll smoke the toppings with the sauce. This layer of flavor permeated the whole dish. I will remember this even if I'm making pasta. I can see me making a whole smoked lasagna - toppings, cheese, sauce - then cooking the whole thing on the Acorn for 1.5 hours. That would be out of this world good!!! That may well be the next thread...

Happy eating folks!
Spectacular. Very nicely done.

The odd time I've done it, I do like you....400-500 kind of thing, like a regular oven.

I've seen some guys get it up to 700* and do pizza, I'd be too scared to do that.
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Awesome post! Thanks for the write up. I'll add that your idea of a "easy dinner because you are tired" is more like the stuff I only make on the weekends! haha
I have done pizza up at 700 plus on my egg. You have to be careful at those temps as the cool crust can shatter a thin pizza stone. The results are amazing but I find it works best on a lightly topped pizza.
Those look great - it will be outdoor pizza weather here as soon as next week.

I run the BGE between 600f - 800F, which is what a commercial pizza oven operates at. I use store bought dough (Trader Joe's) and the Trader Joe's Quattro Formaggio Shredded Cheese Blend (combination of Asiago, Fontina, Parmesan and Mild Provolone)

I divide the 16 oz dough in half when doing pizza on the BGE; rolled out, lightly sauced, cheesed, topped and baked takes about 12 minutes per pie - six of that is spent on the grill

The sauce to dough ratio was the first lesson to learn, then learning that a lighter touch on toppings was key. I toss the onions and red/green peppers with kosher salt to draw out excess moisture and I saute the mushrooms to do the same

We do 4 pizzas per week, in order: onion & pepper, cheese, mushroom and then the "special" (BBQ chicken, Prosciutto & Arugula, Soppressata, Meatball & Sausage, etc.)
I divide the 16 oz dough in half when doing pizza on the BGE; rolled out, lightly sauced, cheesed, topped and baked takes about 12 minutes per pie - six of that is spent on the grill

So do you just let it continue to bake on the pizza stone after it comes off the BGE? I assume you are using a stone to put the pizza on or do you put it directly on the grates?
So do you just let it continue to bake on the pizza stone after it comes off the BGE? I assume you are using a stone to put the pizza on or do you put it directly on the grates?

The stone should be pre-heated in the grill and the pizza is taken off of it with a pizza peel.

The stone should be pre-heated in the grill and the pizza is taken off of it with a pizza peel.

So you put it on the hot stone for 6 min, remove from the stone and let rest for 6?

I'm just trying to figure out your 12min cook time.
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The 12 minutes is total time to make a pizza: roll it out, sauce, cheese, topping takes 6 minutes and 6 minutes to cook it at 800 degrees.

I put put the pizza stone on top of the BGE plate setter (ceramic heat diffuser) - it usually takes about 30 min to hit 600 degrees and that is when I drop the first pizza. Then I use the dampers to slow the temps and get it stable around 800 - after which I can bake pizza as quick as I can assemble them.
Try Making Homemade Mac and Cheese on that Grill. Like that pizza it is da bomb!

I'm going to do a full lasagna on the grill soon. Bigger batch of the smoked sauce like the pizza, maybe smoke the mozzarella while I'm at it? Got to figure it out, but it's on.

As far as the pizza cook times, at 550-600 in the grill, I'd let the stone heat up for 20-30. 6 minutes may be a bit much at that temp for the pizza. Other than the dough, pizza is really not something you can follow much of a formula for. Just have to watch it -- which I found is a weakness of the grill as a pizza oven because you can't see the pizza without opening the grill and dropping the temp. It'll work, though, and I'll continue to experiment this summer. At 550-600 I'd check it at 3 minutes and see how it's going. Depending on the crust and toppings it may be almost done at that point. I'd also go light on sugar in the crust if you use any at all. That'll make the crust burn before everything else is cooked if you use too much.
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