Lifestyle & Seasonal

Pizza Perfection: Add an outdoor pizza oven to your patio

In modern culture, we have a plethora of food and cooking options. Instead of simply roasting a piece of meat over a crude fire, we can bake, sauté, deep fry or flambé. With each new method comes more dining options. Cooking standards that were acceptable before fall out of favor as we reach for new heights of dining perfection. Many stand-by foods are transformed into delicacies in high-end eateries dedicated to the art of fine preparation. More and more, we want to replicate these restaurant experiences at home for family and friends.

Pizza is one of those supposedly simple dishes, but we’ve all tasted that one great brick-oven-baked pizza, with its crispy, warm dough and its sumptuous molten cheese that we can’t forget. We want to throw a pizza party of our own with that same level of deliciousness. Ordering boxes and boxes of pizzeria pizza is the usual approach, but sometimes we want to go for the gusto and serve our own Neapolitan goodness. Enter the outdoor pizza oven for home use, a relatively new trend that is within reach.

Brick ovens in restaurants are called “masonry ovens.” They are usually made from clay bricks, stone or concrete. The ovens can be heated with wood, gas, or electricity. A typical oven has a wide-berthed mouth and a domed top with a chimney. Many portable outdoor pizza oven models exist that can be placed around your patio as you see fit. The other option is to build one into the outdoor kitchen, using the same or complementary materials. A domed oven is thought to make the best pizzas. It can be vented through the front opening or a chimney. Chimneys tend to be the more popular option for venting

Getting a patio pizza oven built in will be labor-intensive, and because of building codes and food-grade requirements, it may be worth hiring a professional to construct it. If budget or space is an issue, look into getting a portable pizza oven. They take up as much space as a grill or small fire pit, and can be moved relatively easily.

As for accessories, you won’t need too many. The essentials are a nice, long oven brush for cleaning and a pizza “peel” – that long-handled, large flat spatula that can hold an entire pizza – that fits your oven. Many accessories will be sold along with the outdoor pizza oven, so make sure to check first for any package deals. If they are sold separately, search for the brand name of the oven and consider the accessories that specifically match your oven.

One more thing to pick up – a cookbook for brick-oven-fired pizzas (and breads!). Outdoor pizza cooking opens up a whole new world of what is possible to make at home. Exploring all the different possibilities is part of the fun.

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