Help! Pizza on the grill
Summer's come to Sacramento; it hit 103 today. Pizza was on the menu for dinner, but there was no way we were going to fire up the oven. So I put the baking stone on the gas grill and turned it up to high. After a while the thermometer was pegged out at 650F.
Slid a pizza onto the stone, closed the lid, and waited 5 minutes. The top was underdone and the bottom was black. Turned the burners off and left the top open for a while, slid on another pie, and turned the burners back to high. Same result.
Has anybody here successfully made traditional pizza on a gas grill? If so, did you run into this problem? And were you able to overcome it?
Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
I do pizza all the time on my BGE. I have a plate setter and the stone sits on top of that. I run the temps around 550-650, works like a charm everytime.
I wonder if you are running the temps to high? I know the wood fired pizza ovens at commercial places are running around 850-900.
You might want to put some fire brick underneath the pizza stone to act as an additional heat sink.
how tight does the lid close?
I use a charcoal fired round Weber which has a really tight seal - depending how I arrange the coal and the vents I can manipulate all sorts of effects. between a slab of granite and tightly (almost) closed upper vents, it can do a fairly good oven.
I believe it really comes down to venting, since your top was undercooked. so many, esp. gas don't seal well.
saw your weather, isn't 103 a little early for the year? (ex-SF person)
if you have a kettle-style charcoal grill (weber or bge) and a stone, lay a full bottom of charcoal. i strongly prefer lump charcoal to briquettes and avoid squirty starter fluids. i also prefer to use a stone, but then i like a bit of heft and chew to the crust--the sense that it has been baked, not grilled.
I do it all the time, but on the grills instead of on a stone. The thermometer on my hand-me-down Weber doesn't work any longer, but I just put it on H-H-H, keep checking till the bottom is done, then flip, top and close the lid till the thing's done.
Times are impossible to quantify, since I do it by feel. But I'd suggest 86ing the stone, myself. Five minutes seems a bit too long, too.
I would not use a pizza stone.
Roll out your dough, preheat the oven, then oil one side of your dough, place the dough (oil side down) on the grill until firm and a bit browned, flip, add toppings and ingredients, turn off gas, close lid for several minutes (depending on toppings). Serve.
surely the problem is caused by the fact that the stone is hotter than the air above it. the gas weber is designed to cook stuff from below. neither its weight nor design will optimize baking. still, you should be able to cook a decent pizza. you might start by checking the temperature of the cooker above the stone--the temperature the pizza cheese would feel. perhaps put a standard oven thermometer on a trivet on the stone and see what you get. it might be quite different from the temperature registered on the hood thermometer.
presumably the best results will follow when the surface temp is as close as possible to the cooker air temp. the stone might well be baffling heat from the air above it. (this is why the "no stone" guys are having some success.) heat variation caused by direct baffling is less likely with a kettle weber or a bge because of their design. of course, the bge has the additional advantage of greater mass.
if your stone has a very large area, consider a smaller one. alternatively, try a somewhat lower heat and longer pre-heat period. this should reduce the difference between stone temp and air temp--on balance a good trade off. you could also use a commercial wire mesh pizza pan instead of a stone. this would allow a more even--and hotter--pre-heating, but you'd need to dial down the gas when you put the pizza on the pan to avoid burning the bottom with the direct heat from the cooking bars.
if you want pizza to become an important part of your outdoor repertoire, however, consider going back to a kettle weber or joining duck in using a bge. i've cooked pizza on a 3-bar gas weber, a charcoal kettle, and a bge. the bge is the best. on the other hand, if you like the convenience of gas and make pizza only as a change-up, the thoughts above might help and should yield good pie.
I don't use a stone but I imagine it would work roughly the same with one if you flip it. I usually have the burners full blast on one side and off on the other. Put the dough on the hot side for a few minutes, flip it to the cool side and top it. You might need two stones, but I love the char on the bottom from being right on the grills.