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Little Black Egg Pizza Oven - How to make one at home


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#1 jmolinari

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 07:50 AM

I've been using my Little black egg for a few years now, and i just posted instructions on how to make one on another food forum for Atlanta folks, 285foodies.com , and i thought i'd post it here too in an attempt to spread the gospel:) I didn't come up with this. Some folks on pizzamaking.com did, i just implemented the concept.
This will get you to the mythical 90 second neopolitan pie (assuming a proper dough), with proper char and flavor, for a small investment ($150 or so, possibly less). It's extraordinary. The only disadvantage is that it's 1 pie at a time, so the cook usually isn't eating, he's cooking and serving.

Pictures: http://picasaweb.goo...onemolinari/LBE

You'll need:

18.5" weber kettle grill (standard grill at home depot)

1 6" unglazed quarry tile (home depot)

Bayou Classic Burner -
http://www.amazon.co...20027326&sr=8-2

Instant non-contact temperature gun -
http://www.amazon.co...2PPDFZG7NV3Y3AD OR http://www.amazon.co...20027403&sr=1-1 they seem to be pretty much the same.

15-16" pizza stone. I used the Old Stone Oven round pizza stone, 16". Google for it. It's expensive, but about 5 times heavier than the cheap ones, and i cracked 3 of the cheap ones before i bought this one. I think Gadget Geek had some links for some serious pizza stones as well.

16" aluminum pizza pan (like the ones they serve pizza on at restaurants). You can get them for about $3 at restaurant supply stores..otherwise you'll have to mail order it.

Heavy duty aluminum foil.

I think that's it. The assembly is as follows.

Cut a 10" or so hole in the bottom of the kettle grill. Use a bowl or something to give you an outline to cut to. Try to make it so the hole is "flat" relative to the grill...so it sits level when you put it on the burner. I'm not sure if I'm explaining what I mean.

Where ever you're going to cut the grill, cover it in masking tape so the enamel doesn't crack and propagate all over the grill. How you cut the hole is up to you. I used heavy duty dremel cutoff bits..it took about 10 of them! When I ran out of those I tried a jigsaw with a metal cutting blade, and it seemed to sail through the stuff like butter...but I didn't use it much as I was basically done. Wish I had!

Cut a vent like in my pictures on the side of the top, across from the premade top vent. My vent is about 1.5" by 8". I don't think size is super critical...just approximately that size should be fine. The original top vent is always closed.

Line all inside surfaces with HD aluminum foil..shiny side viewable.

Drill a hole in the center of you 16" pizza plate/pan and a hole in the center of the lid too. Try to make this centered. You can do this by taking the plastic off the handle, and using the screw hole that is on the metal handle as a guide. Mount the pizza pan to the top using a long bolt and a wingnut like you see in my pics. The goal of this is to reduce the volume of the top lid where hot air would end up. I reduced it even further but also putting in the lid the ash catcher that came with the grill. That's that weird small dome you see in my lid picture. If you want to do that too, just make a hole in the ash catcher, and use a longer bolt to go through that, then the pizza pan then the lid.

The grill comes with 2 grates. The cooking grate and the charcoal grate. Put the charcoal grate in the grill, and then put an UNGLAZED 6" quarry tile (available at SOME home depots) on the charcoal grate, directly above the burner. I'm using this so that the burner flame doesn't impact the pizza stone.

Put the cooking grate in put the pizza stone in.

Put the pizza stone towards the front/vent size of the grill, so there is a larger opening on the back side of the grill between the stone and the grill walls, which will force the hot air up on the back side, then out towards the front vent and over the pizza.

Close it up, light the fire, and on low-medium heat preheat for about 15 minutes...raise the heat a little, and keep preheating until your stone
is at about 750 deg (use the new temp. gun).

It takes a good 25-30 minutes to preheat it somewhat gently and so that the stone is pretty evenly heated and doesn't crack.

Slide your pizza on, close the lid quickly, and CRANK up the gas to max. This will create a huge roaring flame that will generate tons of heat,
that will be forced over the pizza and out the vent. Watch out...the air coming out is REALLY hot.

You'll have to turn your pizza about every 30-45 seconds to get it to char up evenly on the top. Do this by quickly opening the lid, grabbing the pie with some tongs, twisting it then closing the lid. Repeat as necessary. The pizza should cook in about 1.75-2.5 minutes. Depends a lot on your dough and your toppings. You can watch the pizza as it cooks and chars through the vent.

The goal is to get the bottom charry and done at the same time as the top. You might have to mess around with what your stone temperature needs to be before putting the pizza on. My best one has been stone temperature 700-750. I let all my toppings, cheese, tomato, come to room
temperature before baking.

I use about 220g per dough ball, spread to about 11". I use a wet mozzarella as the dry stuff would not to so well under the high temperature.

You'll end up with something that looks like this:
Posted Image

And produce goodies like this:

Margherita
Posted Image

Prosciutto:
Posted Image

Zucchini, ricotta, pancetta:
Posted Image

#2 catdaddy

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 08:12 AM

Sweet.

#3 Peter the eater

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Posted 16 June 2010 - 09:03 AM

Now that's a good egg. I think I know what I'll be doing this summer.
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#4 dougal

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 04:19 AM

An inspired, and inspiring, bit of hardware hacking! :smile:
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#5 Shaya

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Posted 17 June 2010 - 04:47 AM

This is beautiful Really inspiring, thanks for sharing. Now if only I could convince my sweetie to piece it all together for us...

#6 shar999

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 04:43 PM

Buy yourself a Big Green Egg and save yourself all that work. Plus it puts out fantastic tasting food. I though I was a great gas griller but since I've bought the egg I have given it away. Great tasting wood fired pizza. I've had my grill up to over 600 degrees. It takes less than 10 minutes for a great tasting pizza.
It is a price purchase but well worth it!

#7 Chris Hennes

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 04:54 PM

Considering that jmolinari's talking about a two minute pie cooked at 750°F, for $150 in construction materials, I'd say that if your sole goal is pizza, this setup is probably better than a BGE. Certainly a better price/performance!

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#8 ray goud

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 06:13 PM

Now that you have a pizza oven, how about some free recipes? See the Brick Oven Cooking topic for a source.
Ray

Edited by heidih, 11 July 2010 - 11:40 AM.
Add link


#9 jmolinari

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Posted 10 July 2010 - 08:17 PM

Buy yourself a Big Green Egg and save yourself all that work. Plus it puts out fantastic tasting food. I though I was a great gas griller but since I've bought the egg I have given it away. Great tasting wood fired pizza. I've had my grill up to over 600 degrees. It takes less than 10 minutes for a great tasting pizza.
It is a price purchase but well worth it!


The BGE is a great grill, no doubt, but it's no pizza oven. It may make a delicious pie, but it can't replicate a 2 minute neopolitan pie.

#10 HungryC

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 09:12 AM


Buy yourself a Big Green Egg and save yourself all that work. Plus it puts out fantastic tasting food. I though I was a great gas griller but since I've bought the egg I have given it away. Great tasting wood fired pizza. I've had my grill up to over 600 degrees. It takes less than 10 minutes for a great tasting pizza.
It is a price purchase but well worth it!


The BGE is a great grill, no doubt, but it's no pizza oven. It may make a delicious pie, but it can't replicate a 2 minute neopolitan pie.

According to whom? My large BGE easily hits 800+ with a full load of fresh lump; if you don't make the pies too large, it's a three minute pie, tops, if your platesetter & stone are fully preheated. I get great results with my Mini BGE, two pizza stones, and a raised grid.

#11 ray goud

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 10:04 AM

Considering that jmolinari's talking about a two minute pie cooked at 750°F, for $150 in construction materials, I'd say that if your sole goal is pizza, this setup is probably better than a BGE. Certainly a better price/performance!

Since I scratch-built a backyard brick oven for about $400-600, I would certainly say that this topic's way to cook pizza at home is quite frugal. One very important advantage to this "LBE" is the much quicker ramp-up-to-temperature profile. I don't know very much about the Green Egg, except that it's overpriced.
Ray

#12 jmolinari

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 10:26 AM

I'm just presenting a cheap option to make neopolitan pizza at home. I'm sure there are other methods (although i've yet to see a BGE make a neopolitan pizza), but none that i know of offer the cost/benefit this one does.

I guess i should make a topic that offers people how to make neopolitan pizza at home, and just say "buy an Acunto brick oven from naples".

#13 vice

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 10:50 AM

There are many ways to the same end. If I crank my gas oven up all the way (way past broil), it will reach 700F in about an hour and cook a pizza in 3 minutes. jmolinari's method is intriguing in that it is much faster and doesn't turn the house into an extension of the oven (a not inconsiderable point in these warm months).
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#14 Joe Blowe

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 12:18 PM

If I crank my gas oven up all the way (way past broil)...

Ah, you have one of those ovens that goes to '11' :laugh:
So we finish the eighteenth and he's gonna stiff me. And I say, "Hey, Lama, hey, how about a little something, you know, for the effort, you know." And he says, "Oh, uh, there won't be any money. But when you die, on your deathbed, you will receive total consciousness."

So I got that goin' for me, which is nice.

#15 dougal

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 01:03 PM

If I crank my gas oven up all the way (way past broil)...

Ah, you have one of those ovens that goes to '11' :laugh:


700F?
370C?

More like 15 than 11 ... that's quite some Tap !!!
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#16 Rico

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 03:28 PM

I've got a natural gas connection that runs up through my deck to a grill. Do you see any reason I wouldn't be able to use that? Does natural gas burn as hot? And do you have any more pictures, specifically of ... all the cuts you made? I want to replicate this act of genius, but I don't want to waste a Weber in the process ...

#17 jmolinari

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 03:40 PM

natural gas doesn't burn as hot as propane, and the nozzles on the burner would have to be changed, but it should work with modifications.

I don't have an cutting specs, other than what i posted. It doesn't require all that much accuracy, just the general concept....

#18 Dave the Cook

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 04:07 PM

natural gas doesn't burn as hot as propane . . .

Propane has about twice the energy per cubic foot as natural gas, but they ignite and burn at pretty much the same temperature (source here).

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#19 jmolinari

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 05:23 PM


natural gas doesn't burn as hot as propane . . .

Propane has about twice the energy per cubic foot as natural gas, but they ignite and burn at pretty much the same temperature (source here).


you're right. i should have said propane has more energy per cu.ft. burned.

#20 crinoidgirl

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 06:46 PM

Does the BGE make sense as a "multitasker", as Alton Brown would say?
V

#21 jmolinari

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Posted 14 July 2010 - 06:55 PM

Uhm....hell no :)

#22 dougal

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 02:06 AM

Does the BGE make sense as a "multitasker", as Alton Brown would say?



Uhm....hell no :)



Maybe if you were wanting a horizontal version of an Indian 'tandoor' ... ?
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#23 jmolinari

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 06:51 AM


Does the BGE make sense as a "multitasker", as Alton Brown would say?



Uhm....hell no :)



Maybe if you were wanting a horizontal version of an Indian 'tandoor' ... ?


Yeah, that would work actually. Jsut remove the pizza stone, and put some foil underneath the top grill to catch drips...

#24 dougal

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 09:18 AM

I was just thinking of fashioning Naan into a teardrop shape and slapping it on the stone.

Add a few skewer supports to keep skewered meats from contacting the stone, so they cook from radiation and the hot air rather than direct stone contact, and you're done ...
You'd need short skewers to allow you to keep the lid tight shut. The stone is probably the safest thing to be dripped upon - just call it seasoning or patina!
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch ... you must first invent the universe." - Carl Sagan

#25 rooftop1000

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Posted 15 July 2010 - 11:04 AM

Attache a skewer holder opposit the top vent and slide them in carefully?


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#26 Chris Hennes

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 01:17 PM

I just ran across this article on Serious Eats: Aftermarket Insert Turns Your Weber Kettle Grill into Coal-Fired Pizza Oven. It looks like this guy is selling something similar to what jmolinari is doing, minus the gas burner. But maybe you could start with this commercial insert and only have to add the burner?

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#27 jmolinari

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Posted 20 August 2010 - 01:20 PM

seems pretty neat...i'd be concerned that the top dome, where the heat would collect and escape from the top vent, would be too far from the top of the pizza, the result being a cooked bottom crust, and undercooked top.

Sure enough... http://kettlepizza.com/testimonials/
the first pic shows a nice pizza, with what seems to be under-done crust...in my opinion.

Edited by jmolinari, 20 August 2010 - 01:22 PM.


#28 RobertCollins

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Posted 21 August 2010 - 03:36 AM

This is an interesting thing you've built jmolinari.

Thought some of you folks would find thes specs and standards fun:

These are the links for building a pizza oven -Traditionally that is.


http://blackoven.idk...mbnails&page=29
http://www.fornobrav...mpeii_oven.html
http://www.fogazzo.c...le_oven_57.html
http://www.considine.../mac/brickoven/
http://www.tradition..._wood_oven.html
http://www.tradition...ssages/625.html

below is the official rules for making napoletana pizza:

http://www.fornobrav...a/VPN_spec.html

Robert

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#29 gadgetgeek

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Posted 25 October 2010 - 12:05 PM

Does the BGE make sense as a "multitasker", as Alton Brown would say?


Though I don't think a Big Green Egg can ever make a pizza like the LBE, I rank it as a multitasker. You can make a fairly good pizza on it, you can smoke on it, you can do low temperature (but not cold-smoked) fish on it, it does grill really well, it serves as an outdoor oven for casseroles, cakes, & deserts. Though they are pricey they last a good long time. I cook on one 4 days a week and have for years, and though I do have a WSM (Weber Smokey Mountain) for some things, I rank the BGE as a tried and true multitasker. If JMolanari would make me an LBE, I'd have one of the best inexpensive pizza ovens around. I'm just not that crafty :sad:

.

#30 daves

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Posted 16 May 2011 - 12:14 AM

Almost a year ago, I read jmolinari's post with lots of interest. We were in the middle of a backyard remodel that would provide space for an outdoor kitchen, and I was dreaming of a wood fired oven.

Today, I'm still dreaming of the WFO, but I'm enjoying some neapolitan pizzas: building a little black egg finally bubbled to the top of my to-do list. This thread started the quest, and I soon found myself at pizzamaking.com reading up on LBE variations. I used a 22" weber along with the rest of the usual suspects, completing the project in a couple of weekends.

The result: this is a keeper. The main benefit is how easy it is to manage pre-heat (getting the deck stone to temp) vs. cooking temp (blast of hot air above the deck) with the propane burner. And then being able to turn the burner backt to low to not overheat the deck.

The BGE, and other ceramics, can get up to equivalent temps, but can't bring it back down quickly. The result is that the BGE is ready for pizza cooking for a small window of time, and soon after the deck temperature gets too hot. I've got a big ceramic, and while they excel at a bunch of stuff, they just come up short for pizza.

Thanks jmolinari. The LBE rocks!