PRODUCTION

Using A Dedicated (Portable) Pizza Oven


August 18, 2021

Americans spent $38 billion last year on pizza. That’s 3 billion pizzas. In farm terms, that’s about 100 acres of pizza every day. Everyone deserves great pizza! How many of those were part of your family’s contribution? I know in my house, pizza is the go-to food for weekends, sporting events around the big screen, birthday parties and more. The pizza pie is so flexible and can be built to order with anything from seafood to veggies.

Ooni Karu 13 inch Cooking Surface Outdoor Pizza Oven

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Ooni Karu Pizza Oven Heating Up

We do pizza in so many ways; thin crust, thick crust, filled crust, deep dish and more. And most of us have tried numerous outlets to get our pizza fix including chain stores, brick oven, delivery, bake at home, and even in-home. You might even consider yourself and expert on pizza. People cook pizza in the oven, on the BBQ, over a fire and more. But what if you could recreate that wood-fired pizza experience like you had from a brick oven in one of those artisan spots? If you never want to move from pizza in a box… you’re probably done reading- and that’s ok. Pizza is made to be enjoyed the way you want it. No judgement.

However, if you are the type that is always in search of adventure, aside from finding sasquatch, and want that adventure to include your culinary exploits, it’s time to try wood-fired, at-home pizza that will blow your mind. Introducing the Ooni Karu. Just one of the models of portable pizza ovens made by Ooni. They started their company in 2019 on Kickstarter and backers from around the world supported the launch of one of the best portable pizza ovens in the world (my emphasis).

Watch the video now to get your juices flowing!

How it Works

The Ooni Karu has been designed to run at up to 932 degrees F. That is blazing hot! It can burn hardwood (I use a mix of apple and hickory) chips and chunks 6” in length or less or lump charcoal.

Weber Firespice Hickory Wood Chunks, 4 lbs.

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Weber Firespice Apple Wood Chunks, 4 lbs.

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  • You can also purchase a gas burning kit if you want to convert your Ooni to use propane. The sounds of crackling wood and the incredible smell of a wood-burning fire make for a really sensory cooking experience and add wood-fired flavor to food. We recommend cooking with 100% hardwood, which create powerful rolling flames. Types of wood Always use kiln-dried hardwood for the best results. Do not use treated or painted wood. Wood with high resin content, such as pine or spruce, might add unwanted flavors to your cooking.
  • Lump charcoal offers a wide range of temperatures and is an easy choice for low and slow cooking in Ooni Karu. We use charcoal for non-pizza dishes that do not need the same exposure to flame.

Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal, 20 lb.

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  • Temperature can be managed most simply by the amount of fuel added and should be determined by what type of food you are cooking. The Ooni Karu is AWESOME for Neapolitan-style pizza in 60 seconds (can you say pizza party?).
  • Ooni recommends about 752 degrees F for pizza, and you’ll want a few accessories to make the experience smooth and a fun learning adventure.

Ooni Karu Pizza Oven Wood Fire

Accessories You’ll Want

  • A good quality pizza peel (12”) or metal (you can find steel, aluminum, and some with perforations to reduce surface contact- less sticky- with the pizza crust. I use bamboo. Less sticking than with aluminum. (The keys are adding a bit of flour to the peel prior to sliding it under the uncooked pizza dough, and refining your “launching” technique. Yes, pizza aficionado’s call it “launching”. It’s like sending a rocket through the atmosphere I guess.
  • Infrared Thermometer so that accurate temperature can be taken by aiming the thermometer laser at the center of the stone baking board inside the oven.
  • Cast iron baking/serving dishes (oval shape) with wood base for searing meat, baking fish or roasting vegetables. These are also excellent for fajitas!
  • Pizza oven brush for cleaning your pizza stone- Ooni makes a great one.

Ooni Karu Pizza Oven Finished Pizza

Top Tips for Making Great Pizza

  • Use high quality 00 flour and fresh ingredients. 00 flour is a finely milled Italian style of flour and it is the gold standard for pizza dough.
  • Stretch out a nice, thin base and leave a inch-wide space to form a crust that will puff up under the intense heat of the flames.
  • Using your Infrared thermometer, aim for at least 752°F (400°C) in the center of your stone baking board before you launch a pizza into the oven.
  • Rotate your pizza every 20-30 seconds to achieve an even bake on your crusts and toppings.
  • Top up your fuel little and often and allow new fuel to burn for a couple of minutes before adding food.

The Dough

See Ooni.com for classic Italian style with fresh yeast

  • Flour, salt, water and yeast – what do these simple ingredients have in common? They come together to create the mouth-watering pizza or calzone!
  • This recipe will make approximately 3-5 12” pizza’s depending upon the thickness you desire.
  • 00 Flour or high gluten flour- 3 ½ cups
  • Water (warm)- 1 cup
  • Salt (Kosher or Greek sea salt)- 1 tsp
  • Active dry yeast- 1 ½ tsp
  • Sugar- 1 ½ tsp
  • Olive Oil- 1 tbsp

Place two-thirds of the water in a large bowl. In a saucepan or microwave, bring the other third of water to boil, then add it to the cold water in the bowl. This creates the correct temperature for activating yeast. Whisk the salt and yeast into the warm water. If mixing by hand: Place the flour in a large bowl and pour the yeast mixture into it. Stir with a wooden spoon until a dough starts to form. Continue mixing by hand until the dough comes together in a ball. Turn it onto a lightly floured surface and knead with both hands for about 10 minutes, until it is firm and stretchy. Return the dough to the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours. For best results, make your dough the day before you plan to cook with it so there is plenty of time for the yeast to get busy (called proofing). Then take the dough out of the refrigerator an hour or so before you need to work with it to allow is to warm up closer to room temperature.

The Sauce

Make it fresh and you’ll wonder how you managed all of those pizzas with canned or premade sauce. Use canned San Marzano tomatoes if you can find them, although in America they’ll be tough to find these true Italian masterpieces grown in volcanic soil.

  • Canned Tomatoes- 4 cups
  • Olive Oil- 2 tbsp
  • Sugar- 2tsp
  • Kosher or Greek sea salt- 1tsp
  • Garlic cloves crushed or finely chopped- 2
  • Basil leaves- organic if possible and finely chopped- 1 handful
  • Fresh ground black pepper- 1 tsp or to taste

Place the oil in a pan over a medium heat. When warm, add the garlic and fry until softened but not brown. Add all the remaining ingredients, then simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes, or until the flavor has deepened and the sauce has thickened slightly. This sauce can be used straight away or placed in an airtight container and stored in the fridge for up to a week, ready to be used as required.

Toppings

Consider the classic Margherita Pizza (Dough, sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil leaves) to start with and master it. Branch out from there because the sky is the limit. Pepperoni, sausage, shrimp, fresh mozzarella, artichoke hearts, bacon, pulled pork, chicken, and on… and on…

Have fun and thanks for reading!


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