Our Pizza Oven

Our pizza oven has become a centrepiece in our backyard, and a focal point of activity when we have friends and family over.

It all began very innocently – the seed planted by a gift from my mom 🙂

Finish coat on the pizza oven

Applied the top coat over the straw insulation today.
Used a full bag of clay, a quarter package of iron oxide colouring, and a couple heaping spadefuls of sand to start – mixing that all with enough water to get the consistency of thick peanut butter.  I then mixed in about 1/5 of a bale of straw, all cut up pretty fine. Talk about a workout!
pizza-oven-finish-coat1x600After applying the finish coat, I applied a layer of red/black aquarium gravel that I had (and no longer needed) – kind of like a stucco.  Worked pretty good I think – we’ll see how the colour is – right now there are a couple thin spots that have dried, and they look more pink!  I might just mix up a thinner layer with more colouring to apply again 🙂
I’m also thinking that I might have more of the clay applied over the foundation down from the top – kind of like wax dripping down the side of a candle – still deciding though 🙂
I’m still working on a design for a steel roof structure to build over the oven – and protect all this hard work from rain and snow!

Door for the pizza oven

Made a door up, using 2×6 cedar, some leftover dryer duct, and scavenged handles from  an old Hibachi 🙂

First Pizza's from the new oven

Had some friends last night – the ones that helped me build the foundation/base of the oven – and we fired the oven up and made the first pizza’s!  We also had some tasty bourbon and beers 🙂

first pizza'sFor toppings, I put out bowls of :

  • fresh basil
  • fresh rosemary
  • hot chorizo sausage
  • bacon
  • oven roasted red onion
  • oven roasted red pepper
  • smoked gruyere
  • pecorino
  • bocconcini
  • a tomato sauce (with olive oil, salt & pepper, garlic)
  • and some olive oil to drizzle over the pizzas prior to sliding them into the oven.

Worked great having a few wooden pizza peels for everyone to prepare their pizza’s on.
Learnt a few things :

  • Be fairly liberal with the cornmeal on the pizza peels.
  • Don’t prepare the pizza’s too far in advance of getting them into the oven.
  • Keep your eye on the edges closest to the coals.
  • I need some more tools to manage the fire and coals, as well as manipulate the pizza’s while in the oven. Tools with longer handles!
  • Need to set up some sort of rack/shelf near the oven to keep tools and heat proof gloves handy.

Also, I think that I’ll be reworking the oven entrance, and remove the 3 fire bricks.  In their place, I want to put in a larger, single slab of granite or soapstone.

Prime Rib in the Wood-fired Oven

For my sons birthday dinner (14!), we had lots of family over, and I decided to try doing a roast in our new pizza oven.  I stopped in at Acme Meat Market, and received some great help in selecting a roast.  Ended up coming home with a 5 bone Prime rib, weighing in at just over 11 lbs.

Prime Rib - Before

I started the oven fire at about 11:30 Saturday morning, and by 1:00 in the afternoon, the oven floor was pushing 800*F!  I spread the coals out to the rear of the oven and let the fire burn down a bit, and 30 minutes later the floor temp where the roast would soon be sitting was down to about 675*F
I prepped the roast by threading stalks of fresh rosemary through the butchers twine, every few inches all around the roast.  I then salted the outside, very liberally, and also rubbed some cracked pepper all around.
I put the roast into the oven on a baking sheet, facing the bones to the rear of the oven for about 30 minutes, and turned the roast every 30 minutes to get it seared all around.  Finally, I set the roast in the pan with resting on the bones, and placed a strip of foil on the backside of the roast (facing the door), and let the roast cook for an hour with the door closed (put a piece of 1×2 under the door to let air circulate into the oven – didn’t want to smother the coals completely).

Prime Rib - During
After the hour, I turned the roast pan 180*, and moved the foil to keep the door side covered.  The temperature in the oven was 450*.  I let the roast continue cooking for another hour.  When that hour was up, the floor temp was down to 350*, so I added a few small sticks of birch onto the pile of coals at the back of the oven, to add some more heat to the oven.  I also popped a meat thermometer into the roast, and got a reading of just over 100*.  Gave the pan another 180* turn, and closed the door for another hour.
At the 5 hour mark, I tested the internal temperature of the roast and it was sitting at about 127* – so I pulled the roast out, wrapped it up in foil, and let it rest in the kitchen.  I then went back out to the oven, and added a few more small pieces of birch, and added a small roasting pan full of par boiled new potatoes, tossed with salt, pepper, and olive oil, and another roasting pan with carrots, beets, and red onion, all drizzled with olive oil, and balsamic vinegar.  These sat in the oven for about 50 minutes – I thought the beets may have been under cooked, but they were tasty – and everyone else agreed!

Prime rib - After

A roof for the pizza oven

This past weekend I started to build a roof for the pizza oven.  I was debating whether to use pressure treated lumber or cedar when Home Depot made up my mind for me putting cedar on sale (15% off) – making it the less expensive option.
pizza oven, and roof structure in progress

I just used cement post blocks to mount the 4×4’s on – was quite a pain trying to get them all plumb – thanks to Keith for the help!
A couple more beams to add to the roof, a couple boards on the side, and then the actual roof remain to be done.  I’m hoping to find some old (as in rusty and weathered) corrugated steel siding to use for the roofing material – will see how that goes.  Might end up having to use the plastic stuff.

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