I recently read about a fellow who for an entire year ate nothing but pizza and I will extract a thought from his quote where he stated, “Even when it is bad, it is still really good”. I could not agree more!
At Tapas Amador, we enjoy hosting parties with family and friends, and this article is about the quest to create amazing homemade pizza… which led us to the Blackstone Pizza Oven… let me start from the beginning to tell you how we arrived at this decision.
The true beauty of pizza lies in the sheer amount of possibilities. But given that, for Valery and I, we gauge our sampling of pizza joints by their skill at delivering a simple plain cheese pie. The perfect triad of crust, sauce and cheese can be heavenly when done right! Of course, I am oversimplifying, as each of these ingredients requires a process of development before they can combine into a perfect food. We discovered such amazing perfection when we had a Margherita pizza in Napoli!
When we first started making pizza, it was with a pizza stone in our conventional oven.
The results were okay, but the wait time on each pie was way too long, making it impossible to serve at a party. In addition, the consistency of our crust came out on the tough side. I will point out that at this stage we began with store-bought crust (Whole Foods), commercial “Jar” Sauce (various brands) and simple mozzarella.
Our next step was to make pizza on the grill.
We used the same ingredients but did the coking on our gas grill. The key here is to oil your grates really well so your dough doesn’t stick. Using the same ingredients we would roll out our a dough and drop it on the hot grill. Then we waited a moment and when the side facing the fire was partially cooked (a few brown or black lines like a tortilla), we would flip the dough and place our ingredients on the cooked side while the other side continued to cook. A short while with the grill lid closed and the cheese was melted nicely.
The grilling technique became our favorite with the faster cooking times, but we were limited to smaller pies by the grill size. At this stage, we started experimenting with different toppings and our “Grill Pizzas” were quickly a party favorite, as people could choose their own toppings. The downside of this technique is loading your pie over an open flame and the limitations of a grill with unequal heat zones.
We began to consider a dedicated wood-burning pizza oven built in our backyard.
We started looking at the local Home & Garden shows, but we quickly learned that the high prices and large space needed for such a build-out were prohibitive. On top of that, after speaking with several people who already owned them, we were less convinced. They shared that while they loved the smell of a wood-burning pizza oven, the biggest issues they faced were in building the fire, waiting to get to adequate cooking temperature, and the difficulty of cleaning this kind of oven. Admittedly we still considered this option as we gazed at the amazing wood burners we saw at Via Napoli in Epcot.
Not only did we come away with some useful technique improvements (including mastering dough from scratch, making our own sauce, etc.), but we had a chance to try an electric pizza cooker, “The Petite Pizzeria”, as well as a few different pizza stones including a sheet of baking steel. Sur La Table does carry a Pizzeria Pronto Outdoor Pizza Oven, which has gotten very good reviews, but we were still not convinced. This option is a little on the small side for us, which can be good if you are looking for portability.
Finally, the Blackstone Pizza Oven enters the picture…
One day, I was scrolling through my email when an interesting ad from Groupon came through for the Blackstone Pizza Oven, a stand-alone oven with a 60,000 BTU burner for quick and even heat up past 700° F. The claim-to-fame is that this baby can cook a full-size pizza in 3 minutes!
Here is the short version of how the Blackstone Pizza Oven works…
You hook the oven up to your propane gas tank. Within the oven opening where you slide in your pizza, it has a rotating stone at the bottom, as well as a fixed one on top. The flames directly heat the bottom stone, and due to the position of the burner, the heat rises to heat the top stone, bringing the oven to 700° F. The rotating stone allows an even cooking, while the high-heat cooks the pizza in 3 minutes and creates that beautiful ‘char’ that all home pizza makers strive for.
I checked out a few videos about this oven… I was impressed. I called Valery over and within a New York minute, we decided to make the leap.
This bad boy is rather big, weighing in at 110 pounds, but to us, it was a much better option than the small tabletop versions or a permanently built pizza oven in our backyard. The Blackstone is considered portable and does have wheels, but you would need a truck to transport it to a different location.
Our oven arrived promptly, but upon opening the box we discovered that the ceramic pizza stones that go inside were broken and the supporting frame was bent so It could not be assembled. We contacted customer service and they promptly sent out another oven! Number two arrived more intact but we still had a broken stone. This was promptly remedied by Blackstone’s excellent customer service team and we had a new stone in no time.
Here is our video about our Blackstone Pizza Oven
We love this Blackstone Pizza Oven!
Our friends love it too and we have had great pizza parties serving up our slices on our tapas plates. We had one party where we cooked up about 20 pizzas! At one get together, a friend was so impressed that they bought one for themselves on the spot and are enjoying it immensely. I tell everyone who will listen how great this thing is!
We will have to share more of the other details such as recipes and tools about our pizza adventures in coming articles. For now, check out a few of our photos: