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An outdoor pizza oven is an outdoor oven that has a high heat capacity that can range from 300°F (150°C) to 800°F (427°C) or more where the fuel it uses can be gas, charcoal or different types of wood. These types of ovens have a significantly higher heat capacity compared to a conventional kitchen oven that can reach about 500°F (260°C).
While an outdoor pizza oven can cook a pizza in about 1 minute, they can also be used to:
- Grill fish fillet, shrimp, or clams
- Bake a cake or a batch of brownies
- Barbecue a rack of ribs
- Roast a whole herbed chicken
An outdoor pizza oven works by distributing heat inside the chamber where a fire is built and burns until you have reached your desired temperature. The shape and material of the oven will trap the heat which is where all the actual cooking will take place. Depending on the size, model, and what kind of fuel you plan to use, an outdoor pizza oven can range from $200 to $1000. You can choose to build one yourself or purchase one that is made to be assembled piece by piece.
Even though an outdoor pizza oven is designed for pizza, it can also be used to bake different types of bread and quiche. Also, you can cook paella over the live fire of this type of oven or choose to grill skewers of souvlaki. Other ways to utilize an outdoor pizza oven include using it to:
The first use of an outdoor pizza oven is for baking bread. Prepare the dough for your sourdough, focaccia, ciabatta, or dinner rolls and start up the outdoor pizza oven to 400°F (200°C) to 450°F (230°C). Sprinkle a baking stone with semolina flour or cornmeal before placing your dough onto it and putting it into the oven with the bread facing the fire. Check your bread after 30 minutes and every minute or so for the next 10 minutes so that it does not overbake. Your bread will be ready when it has browned and is hollow when you tap it. Cool for 20 minutes to 30 minutes before consumption.
You can also bake desserts in your outdoor pizza oven. With residual heat that is around 320°F (160°C) to 400°F (200°C), embers should be brushed to the side as you prepare your batter. You easily bake a cake or brownies by pouring your batter into a cooking pan or skillet for 30 minutes to 40 minutes. If your batter is not completely cooked yet, you can spray some water into the base of your outdoor pizza oven to create steam.
The outdoor pizza oven can alternatively be used to bake a quiche. Fire up your outdoor pizza oven to 450°F (230°C) and let it stay above 392°F (200°C) as you prepare your quiche. Line your pastry shells with foil and let it bake for 5 minutes before removing the foil and baking the pastry shell again for 5 minutes. In a mixing bowl, combine your eggs, milk, salt, and pepper. In another bowl combine your flour and cheese before adding it to your egg mixture. Then, mix in your preferred meat and veggies before pouring this into your pastry shells. Let the oven cool to 338°F (170°C) and bake the quiche for 50 minutes to 55 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.
Another way to use the outdoor pizza oven is as a barbecue. Fire up your outdoor pizza oven to 450°F (232°C) to 500°F (260°C). Cut your ribs to fit on a rib rack and coat each side with your dry rub. Place the ribs on the rack into your outdoor pizza oven and roast for 35 minutes to 40 minutes. Halfway through cooking, spin the rack around to make sure that your ribs cook evenly.
The outdoor pizza oven is also perfect for cooking paella because this dish must be cooked right over a live fire. Heat your paella pan in the oven that has a temperature of 400°F (200°C) to 500°F (260°C) and add your oil when it is hot. Add your onion and pepper before stirring in the garlic, saffron, and paprika. Add your wine or sherry and let it reduce before adding in your rice and stock. Cook this uncovered in your outdoor pizza oven until the rice is tender and has absorbed the stock. Then, add your seafood and cook for another 5 minutes.
Use your outdoor pizza oven to flame-cook steaks. Pre-heat your outdoor pizza oven to 400°F (200°C) pushing the embers to one side as your prepare your steak. The best way to prepare your meat is by taking it out of the refrigerator at least 6 hours before cooking and letting it cool to 68°F (20°C). Before cooking your steak, season both sides with salt to draw out any remaining moisture for a crispy outer layer. Make sure the embers are while before cooking your steak on each side for 8 minutes to 10 minutes. Make sure the steak is cooking undisturbed on either side before removing it from your outdoor pizza oven and onto a platter.
An alternative way to use the outdoor pizza oven is as a seafood grill. To grill shrimp, make sure it has been peeled and deveined before you crust the shrimp with bread crumbs. Pre-heat the outdoor pizza oven to 600°F (315°C) and heat up a large skillet before adding in your oil of choice. Add your shrimp to the skillet with wine and butter so that it does not burn. Add garlic, seasoning, and other vegetables and cook the shrimp for another 5 minutes. You can also bake clams or a fillet of fish this way.
The outdoor pizza oven is also a grill for souvlaki. Prepare your souvlaki at least two hours before you plant to skewer and roast it and let the outdoor pizza oven pre-heat at 700°F (371°C) for an hour. After skewering your meat and vegetables, roast your souvlakia for 4 minutes to 5 minutes making sure to turn them halfway through grilling.
Also, you can use the outdoor pizza oven to make a dip. Pre-heat your outdoor pizza oven to 356°F (180°C) and warm your skillet inside it. Blend your dip ingredients in your food processor until it is smooth then remove the skillet from the outdoor pizza oven. Evenly spread your dip inside the skillet adding cheese, breadcrumbs, or oil as a topping. Bake the dip inside the outdoor pizza oven for 15 minutes.
You can use your outdoor pizza oven to prepare and cook stew. Pre-heat it to 392°F (200°C) while you prepare your stew ingredients. In a large frying pan, fry your beef on medium to high heat until it is brown. After transferring your beef onto a plate, fry your onions, garlic, and other vegetables on low heat for 5 minutes. Add your meat and vegetables into a casserole dish that is flame-proof and sprinkle flour on top before letting it cook for 2 minutes. Pour your brandy into the casserole dish and let it reduce before adding your wine and stock. Add your herbs and let the ingredients simmer before transferring your stew into the outdoor pizza oven. Let it cook for 30 minutes without a lid and then cook it with a lid for 2 more hours.
Another way to use the outdoor pizza oven is to make a roasted chicken. Prepare your outdoor pizza oven to 350°F (176°C) to 400°F (200°C). Meanwhile, trim any excess fat from your chicken, season it inside and out, and place it on top of the vegetables of your choice in a pan. Place the chicken in your outdoor pizza oven and let it roast for 1 hour to 2 hours minutes making sure that it is covered with foil for the first hour.
The outdoor pizza oven is also used often to roast vegetables. You will need to toss your vegetables in olive oil and season them with salt, pepper, and other herbs or spices you may wish to use. Place them in a skillet or pan and roast them in the outdoor pizza oven at 450°F (232°C) to 600°F (315°C). Gently stir the vegetables so they do not stick to the pan or burn for 5 minutes to 10 minutes.
What are the common mistakes for usage of an outdoor pizza oven?
It can be a challenge learning about how to use an outdoor pizza oven and the most common mistakes include:
- Maintaining the heat inside the outdoor pizza oven incorrectly. Do not overload your fire with big pieces of wood and opt for smaller pieces to keep your airflow clear and the fire bright.
- Not cleaning the outdoor pizza oven adequately. Let your outdoor pizza oven cool completely and scoop out any wood, ashes, embers, or food particles the following day for maintenance.
- Positioning the fire incorrectly. Build your fire in the center of your outdoor pizza oven and shift it to the side when you are going to cook so that you can maintain a constant temperature and distribute heat well for cooking.
- Putting your outdoor pizza oven in the wrong place. The best place for your outdoor pizza oven is a hard surface with proper ventilation. The outdoor pizza oven should not be too close to your house or building or under a wall.
- Using an uncured outdoor pizza oven. A new outdoor pizza oven will need to be cured gradually for 4 hours to 5 hours for the first 5 days so that there is no risk of moisture expansion that can lead to cracking.
- Using the wrong type of wood. The type of wood you choose to use will affect the temperature of your cooking fire, how fast the fire will burn, and how the fire and ash will flavor your food.
Avoid these mistakes when cooking the use cases above. This way, your food will cook well and maintain the quality of the outdoor pizza oven.
What is the history of usage of outdoor pizza ovens?
So, what is an outdoor pizza oven and where did it come from? Well, wood brick ovens go back to the time of ancient Rome. These medieval brick ovens feature an oven chamber in the shape of a dome and are designed with a vent in the front. It was only in the 18th century when the White Oven was designed where there was a firing chamber right below the cooking chamber which was primarily used for bread.
The renaissance of this method of cooking was in 1970s Italy due to the pre-assembled pizza ovens. After World War II, the electric American Oven was created due to the destruction of various wood-fired ovens.
Another development occurred in the 1990s where pizza ovens were designed with new insulating and refractory materials. These ovens were designed in order to reduce the heat-up time from 2 hours to 3 hours to a mere 45 minutes and can retain hotter heat which is what today’s outdoor pizza ovens are very similar to.
Do the use cases of an outdoor pizza oven change based on type?
Yes, the use cases of an outdoor pizza oven change based on what type of outdoor pizza oven it is. A freestanding outdoor pizza oven is the most common type and can vary in size, shape, and material but are usually used to cook large quantities of food. A built-in outdoor pizza oven is integrated into another structure to save space. There are also portable outdoor pizza ovens that can be placed and set up everywhere but are typically small in size which means that they can only allow you to prepare 1 or 2 pizzas at a time.
There are also masonry ovens that retain heat well and can go above 932°F (500°C) easily which is why it is so popular for pizza. Modular ovens are meant to be put together and set up as well as designed to heat up quickly but have a lower thermal mass compared to ones made of brick. There are also half-spherical or igloo outdoor pizza ovens that evenly distribute heat but maintain low temperatures poorly. Then there are barrel vaulted pizza ovens whose walls are thick which mean that they have a higher thermal mass compared to other outdoor pizza ovens.
Which outdoor pizza oven is best for pulled pork?
The best outdoor pizza oven for pulled pork is one that is barrel vaulted. This outdoor pizza oven has a half-barrel design where the oven floor is rectangular and you can choose one with an enclosed vault. The opening can be shut which makes it easy to use, maintain low temperatures, and is a great way to roast pulled pork.
Does an outdoor pizza oven have more use cases than an indoor kitchen oven?
Diving into the outdoor pizza oven vs. indoor kitchen oven debate, an outdoor pizza oven has more use cases. While they are both ovens that can be used for cooking pizza, there are different outdoor pizza ovens for different types of pizza. For example, Neapolitan pizza and New York-style pizza will need different types of ovens that run on different types of fuel because of the differences in their recipes and cooking times.
What are the other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to an outdoor pizza oven?
Other kitchen tools with various use cases similar to an outdoor pizza oven include:
- Convection Oven: This kitchen appliance uses a fan and exhaust system that blows out hot air to evenly cook food.
- Microwave Oven: A microwave oven heats or cooks food via microwaves which channel heat directly to food molecules.
- Toaster Oven: This electric kitchen tool found on countertops functions as both a toaster and oven which can cook or warm food.
These kitchen appliances have similar uses to an outdoor pizza oven but have use cases specific to themselves. You can learn more about the 5 other uses of these 3 kitchen tools here.