Pizza Tools For Professional Pizzas
If you haven't tried it you will be surprised to learn that making pizza at home isn't all that hard, you can make them exactly as you like them, and nothing beats fresh hot pizza still crispy from the grill or oven rather than soggy from the cardboard box. You don't need much in the way of tools.
There are many pizza stones, and the best modern ones are made from a special heat absorbing refractory type material called cordierite. It is poured into a mold, not just formed from clay as in olden days. It can take more heat, hold it, transmit it to the pie, and resists cracking. This model is square but they also sell round and rectangle. You can also use it for bread baking. Even when I cook in a pan, I heat my stone and then slide the pie onto the stone to serve it and keep it warm.
You need a good cast iron griddle for many cooking tasks, especially if you like fish, burgers, grilled sandwiches, home fries, or pancakes. It can also double as a pizza stone. One word of caution. You may actually need two griddles. If you use it for fish a lot, the flavor will remain on the surface, even after cleaning, so you won't be able to use it for pizza or pancakes. It is 20" x 10 7/16".
The Baking Steel is an expensive slab of specially formulated steel that heats rapidly and holds heat very well. In other words it is a steel pizza stone. In our tests it performed similar to a pizza stone, cooking the bottom a bit faster than the refractory type material. Of course, in most cases, cooking the bottom is not a problem. On a grill the bottom tends to cook too rapidly. It has one advantage, it does clean up easily without absorbing water. But it is about twice the price of refractory type material.
Next time you order pizza, tell them not to slice it. The liquid running down through the cuts only softens the crust. A good pizza wheel will keep your pizza crispy, and it comes in handy for home made pizza and even for cutting pie dough. You want a big wheel like this Oxo Good Grips 4-Inch Pizza Wheel. It has a a solid riveted axle to keep it from wobbling, a good hand guard, and the company's signature comfy grip.
Then you spread the dough on the peel, top it, and slide it onto the pan or stone on the grill. You then use the peel to remove it. They come in all sorts of sizes and prices, metal and wood. I prefer wood. Wet dough tends to stick to metal and makes it a little harder to slide off. Here are some other options: Pizza Peels.
I don't know how I lived without a good, accurate digital kitchen scale for so many years. It is so important. Look at salt for example. 1 cup of table salt has almost twice as much salinity as a cup of Morton's kosher salt because Morton's kosher salt has more air space between the grains. But a pound of all salts contain exactly the same amount of sodium chloride. Without a scale, making a brine requires a calculator.
Flour and sugar have the same problem. Packed flour or loose flour. Big diff. Ever try to measure a tablespoon of honey? Did you get it all into the bowl or leave a lot of it on the spoon?
My favorite scale is the OXO Good Grips Stainless Food Scale with Pull-Out Display. It can weight accurately up to 11 pounds as well as fractions of an ounce. Push a button and it converts to metric. Put the bowl on the scale and push a button and it zeros out so the bowl's weight is not included. The top comes off for easy cleaning. It will change your life.
An IR thermometer is a biiiig help
When it comes to pizza, the temperature of the cooking surface is just as important as the air temp because that is what cooks the dough. The best way to measure the temp of your pizza stone or pan is with an infrared gun. Click here to see our reviews and ratings of infrared thermometers.
I keep a cooking diary. In it I write down vital info about every cook so I can learn what works and what doesn't. OK. So I'm anal. But being anal got me this gig. The two most important variables to track in any cook are time and temp. So I used to wear a stopwatch around my neck when I cooked. Click when I fire up. Click when it is up to temp. Click when the meat goes on. Click when I add more wood or charcoal. Click when I turn. Click when I sauce. Click when I take it off. But have you seen the new digital stopwatches? They are a real pain with faaaar too many features and bells and whistles. My last one sat in my desk between cooks and beeped every hour and the only way I could make it shut up was with a hammer. True story. Now I use the very simple user friendly Timestick.
It can count down or up and when a count down alarm sounds, the count up timer starts so you can see how much time has elapsed since your alarm. It's range is 99 hours 99 minutes and 99 seconds, there is a keypad lock so you don't accidentally screw things up, there's a lanyard so you can wear it around your neck, it comes in nine colors, it's splash proof, and it has a magnet on back so I can stick it to my grill, fridge, or oven. Operates between 32 and 104°F. Best of all, you won't need to read the manual. Love it.
If you prefer a bigger timer that can stand on the counter as well as stick to the fridge, with a keyhole mount on the back so you can mount it on a wall, and an alarm that you can hear in a noisy commercial kitchen or when you are downstairs doing laundry at home, this is the 110 decibel choice. Thank goodness you can adjust the volume. Other than that, it has pretty much the same features as the timestick.
This is another one of those gadgets that got me all excited when I first heard about it. They make several kits ranging from $150 to $475 and there are 18.5" and a 25.5" models. They sent me their top of the line to test: The Serious Eats KettlePizza Special Edition Kit with the Prograte, Tombstone, Baking Steel, Wood, and Aluminum Peels and a10% Donation to Charity.
KettlePizza is a well made stainless steel ring that sits between the lid and base of your Weber Kettle, and a pizza stone. There is a big opening in the ring so you can slide your pizza in and out, just like a real wood burning pizza oven. The Special Edition has a tombstone shaped stone that sits in its own ring and is flush with the front of the kettle under the opening. There is space on the sides, and rear, and a pocket in the rear to hold wood chunks or small logs. Above the pizza is a heavy steel reflector.
The idea is that the hot logs create flame that licks along the metal plate above the pie creating an environment similar to a real stone pizza oven. The problem with grilling pizzas in general is that the bottoms tend to burn before the tops cook so this arrangement is designed to solve that problem. In theory it sounds ideal, and it looks really cool!
I'll let Chef Ryan Udvett, our test kitchen director have the final word "This is a case of good intentions, great design research, and passion for pizza coming together and adding up to less then the sum of its parts. It just doesn't outperform a plain old kettle with a stone if you set it up properly. Then there is the price tag and the cost of fuel since it requires both charcoal and hard would to function. And lastly it is a specialty device, a uni-tasker that needs a lot of storage space."