Have you ever gotten so excited about something that it couldn't possibly live up to your anticipation of it? That was the first pizza sunday with my new oven.
For some reason, I imagined my first wood fired experience to be nothing less than perfection from the very beginning. Let me ruin the suspense by telling you that it was indeed less than perfection. We got some delicious food, don't get me wrong. But there were definitely quite a few set-backs and burnt edges.
Firing a wood oven is something I probably should have put more time and research into before trying it on my own. Lets just say that the assumed 45 minute warm-up time was a little ambitious for a first timer! It took nearly 2 hours to get the oven to what I understood to be "temperature" (sort of a blind-leading-the-blind destination in and of itself). The position of the fire is key to properly distributing heat evenly. And burning thick bark is not good. After that all got ironed out, it was still a little rocky, but at least we made it out with the oven "working"!
My first pizza was a new experiment. I made my own sausage, seasoning and cooking it in a large patty to keep it chunky. It came out deliciously, even if it was a bit charred on one side. Improperly firing the oven left the internal air temperature and the floor of the oven at different temperatures, making the outside cook more rapidly than the bottom of the pizza. So there were some more-than-a-little dark edges. I'm sure this is something that I'll understand better with time.
One thing I realized in all this is how much wood I'm going to need each time I fire up the oven. It's a lot! Not worth it for only cooking a couple pizzas, so I'm gonna have to step my game up a bit. Also, there's all this heat once the pizzas are done cooking. I'm going to have to use it to roast stuff in the future. Slow cook a couple racks of ribs. Maybe a brisket. We'll see. I attempted to roast an apple that night, as it was all I had that made sense to roast on short notice.
I think it was too close to the door of the oven. It barely cooked at all when I checked it out the next evening. Still crunchy for the most part.
I made a total of 8 pizzas, two of them coming out perfectly and the rest holding various bits of char around the edges (mostly when I ended up talking when I should have been rotating pizzas). All in all, they were delicious. Everyone was pleased. And while I feel several things went wrong, I'm learning (albeit very slowly) to celebrate my mistakes and use them to take me where I one day hope to be. Where would we be without a few mistakes along the way?
Nick Gore was a corporate peon by day who just made the leap to full time pizza geek. Follow his path to world class Pizzaiolo right here on the GoreMade Pizza blog. Also, check out the facebook page.