I have long pined for a wood burning oven. The notion of slow roasted food or quickly make pizza just sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, they are not very practical so I opted out when we redid our backyard.
For a little while now I’ve been wondering whether a more practical solution would be a ceramic grill. These are thickly walled, charcoal grills that can effectively be used as ovens (especially with their ability to control heat) in addition to being grills and smokers. Here in the states the most famous maker of these grills is The Big Green Egg. People often say these owners belong to a cult given how passionate they are about them. This article in the New York Times, a close friend and a windfall from the parents pushed me over the edge.
There is a durable, high quality grate on top of the grill and another at the bottom. Using these in concert affords a great deal of control over the temperature inside. With a little practice it is almost as easy as dialing the oven. This, for me, is 350 F.
The first test was the Paella Party and I have to say it was a resounding success. Next was chicken which worked like a charm without having to worry about flare-ups carbonizing the skin since the grate rests high above the coals.
The final test was Friday night pizza. I’ve always wanted to be able to get closer to 600 F (315 C) for pizza, well above my oven’s capabilities. It took a few tries but the final pizza cooked at 650 (700+ was t00 high!) was just shy of spectacular. Regrettably my daughter was not a fan of the subtle smokey flavor but rest assured we will find more opportunities to use the grill for pizza.
Here is the grill in its glory. A highly expensive but amazingly flexible tool for the home cook.