This Ingenious Tool Transforms My Grill Into an Outdoor Pizza Oven
I believe it to be a universal truth that the minute you utter the words “pizza night,” everyone gets excited. Kids and parents alike love it, plus it’s an easy and fun option for mealtime. Over the years, I’ve sampled all types of fast-food pizza delivery, frozen pizzas, and even homemade pizzas from the oven. But as much as we try, none of these options ever quite come as close to a perfectly cooked, beautiful oven-fired pie from our favorite pizza joint.
It’s been nearly impossible to recreate that magical combination of a crisp-yet-chewy crust, warm tomato sauce, and marvelously melted cheese within the confines of home cooking. For those with the space and budget, a dedicated outdoor pizza oven is a fantastic indulgence, but for everyone else, allow me to introduce the PizzaCraft PizzaQue Kettle Grill Conversion Kit.
What’s So Great About the PizzaQue Kettle Grill Conversion Kit?
Instead of adding a whole new appliance to your culinary arsenal, this is a simple, space-saving add-on to the kettle grill you already own. The Deluxe version I have includes a stainless steel converter with a built-in thermometer, a round Cordierite pizza stone, a folding pizza peel, a charcoal screen, and a flexible door screen.
There are a few reasons why I enjoy using the PizzaQue.
Size: I love that this is essentially a small metal ring and a pizza stone that I can simply perch on top of my existing Weber grill and, voila! It’s a pizza oven. It’s also easy to store off-season.
Fuel: In our house, we prefer charcoal grilling over using a gas grill. We always have a bag of charcoal on hand, which makes it much more convenient than having to purchase a propane tank just for the pizza oven.
Flavor: As a former New Yorker, I remember savoring many slices from America’s first pizza restaurant, Lombardi’s, in Little Italy. I love how much this kit reminds me of their coal oven baked pizza because I get to use my charcoal grill for that smoky flavor even though I’m cooking in my Midwest backyard.
How Do You Use the PizzaQue Kettle Grill Conversion Kit?
To use the converter kit, setup is quite simple. As your coals warm up, place the charcoal screen on top, secure the converter (there are hooks on the side that help it sit on top of your grill), and then the pizza stone in the middle of the converter.
After cooking on the PizzaQue for a while, I’ve got a few tips for anyone looking to get into the backyard pizza oven game.
Heat: The key to this style of pizza is high-heat cooking. The instructions for the PizzaQue say to ignite 10 pounds of charcoal for heating the grill. This sounded like a lot to me, so I started with just one chimney full of charcoal to get it going. This wasn’t enough to hit that ideal 700- to 900-degree range, so I added more as instructed. Take it from someone who learned the hard way — don’t skimp on the charcoal!
Timing: It’s essential to work quickly from the moment you stretch the dough onto the pizza peel, load it up with toppings, and get it into the oven. If you wait longer than 2 or 3 minutes, it’s more likely that the dough will stick and be difficult to slide onto the hot stone. I also recommend sprinkling the peel with lots of cornmeal to help it slide off easily.
Turning: You’ll need to watch the pizzas carefully as they cook for a nicely browned crust and melty cheese. It’s recommended that you rotate the pizza 180 degrees about halfway through for even cooking. The majority of the heat is toward the back of the oven, so this is a crucial step.
Practice: There’s a learning curve in terms of the ideal temperature, timing, and technique when making this style of pizza. Give yourself time to get to know the PizzaQue a bit and be willing to sacrifice some tester pizzas at first. After the first few tries, it was humbling to realize that it takes years for an experienced pizzaiolo to master all their techniques and tricks, so it’s OK if your pizzas aren’t picture-perfect from the get-go. There may be a learning curve, but it sure is a delicious one!
An unexpected benefit with using the PizzaQue is that the coals will burn very hot for quite a while, so this a great pizza-making essential for serving a crowd — especially as we head into summer holidays and entertaining. Stock up on dough, tomato sauce, cheese, and tons of toppings, and invite over a bunch of friends or family. Everyone will love assembling their own personalized pizza and watching it cook to perfection before their eyes.
Buy: PizzaCraft PizzaQue Kettle Grill Conversion Kit, $89.95