Sunday, April 23, 2017

Product Review: Pizza Porta

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At the 2015 Pensacola Eggfest (a "must do" Eggfest), Big Green Craig and I spotted a crazy contraption on a Big Green Egg that captured our attention immediately.  It looked like a mailbox and it was spitting pizzas out every few minutes.  We talked to the creators and found that it was a prototype of their invention - the Pizza Porta.  

Pizza Porta at the 2015 Pensacola Eggfest
Seeing the protoype in action at the 2015 Pensacola Eggfest had me intrigued.

I believe Craig's exact quote to them was, "Shut up and take my money now!"

They weren't in production yet but at the 2015 Pensacola Eggfest but at the 2016 event, I finally bought one from Escambia Electric Motor for my neighbor and BBQ teammate, John. It was a "thank you" for all the work he puts in on our BBQ team throughout the year. He makes pizzas every Saturday so I knew he'd like it (plus we borrow each other's grill accessories so it's a win-win).  

Pizza Porta fitted on a Large Big Green Egg. They also fit on a Kamado Joe.

After 6 months of heavy use, here is John's review of the Pizza Porta.

Pizza Pizza!!  Who Loves Pizza?  A Review of the Pizza-Porta



We love pizza, in fact every Saturday for as long as we have had our BGE we have cooked pizza, That’s around 300 pizza’s.  Imagine my surprise when super neighbor NMT rang our doorbell and had this big box in hand and said Merry Christmas.  In his many travels he had come across this “device” and immediately “knew" we had to have one.  Well we have been using this for a few months now and I thought I’d share our experience with it.

Side view of a Big Green Egg with the Pizza Porta warming up.

What is it, what does it do & how does it work?

It makes your Kamado grill into a more efficient Charcoal fired pizza oven.  To add or remove pizzas you just open the front door.  This retains a lot of the grill’s heat so pizzas cook more efficiently and quicker.  Pizza-Porta has a great and informative web site (http://www.pizza-porta.com) with lots of tips and how to set up the porta with your grill.

Interior view of the Pizza Porta on a kamado grill

Basically you load up your fire box with a good load of lump, light it and then put your platesetter legs down on top of the fire ring and place your grate on top of the platesetter with a pizza stone centered on the grate.  This makes a perfect height for easy access to the pie thru the front door.  Then follow the guide on how to install the porta in your grill and close the lid and porta down so it sits evenly on the gasket of the Kamado base.  You may have to gently slide the porta from side to side to get the best fit between the dome and the porta to eliminate air gaps.  Now leave the top cap off of the kamado and make sure the side vents of the porta are closed like the picture that starts this post.  Leave the grill like this until the dome temperature reads about 450 degrees; at this time put the ceramic cap on your dome and open the side vents full open on the Pizza-Porta like below.



This creates a strong convection effect moving the heat over the top of the stone and out the sides of the Pizza-Porta (this is the magic part).



Results

This makes for a most wonderful cooked pizza.  The first thing my wife and I noticed was the incredible texture of the crust.  We make a medium style crust, not thin like NY style or Neapolitan pies and certainly not thick like Chicago deep dish, medium the way we like it.  It was crisp, lite and very flavorful.  Perfect.



The top gets nicely browned and the cheese melts perfectly

Recipe for pizza crust for kamado grills like the Primo, Vision, and Grill Dome


With the heat moving over the top of the pizza the smoke gently kisses the pie and adds a wonderful deep flavor to the ingredients.  Needless to say we are very impressed with the Pizza-Porta.

Other Observations

Be careful, this stainless steel cooker gets VERY HOT.  Cooking pizza you generally want about a 500 degree dome temp, so you can imagine how hot this metal gets.  So only use the wood handle to open and close the front door.  Use a pizza peel to add and remove or turn your pizza and if you have to put your hand inside the Porta make sure you are wearing a heat resistant glove that goes up to mid arm!  You have been warned.

I find once I light my grill the stone is ready to cook on in about 45-50 minutes, if you follow the procedure outlined above.  Whereas before it seemed like the stone took a full hour to come to temp.  I think having the air directed over the top of the stone speeds the heating some.

It is great for making multiple pies, since not as much heat is lost when opening the front door, you conserve lump and can cook as many pies as you would need provided you loaded enough lump to begin with.  Also if the top is not browned enough you can, with the front door open and the pizza on a peel raise it up in the dome to get to the higher heat at the top of the dome for a quick brown.

Is It Worth It?

I believe this unit retails for $299, is it worth it?  Yes and No. If you can afford it and love pizza, definitely buy it. If it is a stretch for you, but you love pizza I still say it’s worth it, so save up and go for it.  Had it not of been a gift I probably would never have bought it, unless I got to try one risk free.  Then once I tasted the pizza off this I would have begun plotting on how to afford it.  It made enough of a difference to the pie that I really like and value it.  Remember I have made 300 pizza’s on a kamado grill, I make a pretty good pie without one of these, but I make a better pie with one.

What post on pizza would be complete without a recipe….. so

Anna Mae-zing Pizza Crust

My wife has modified several crust recipes to make what I think is our best crust and one that should fit most folks' needs.  It is easy and can be made the same day you use it.  It is a medium thick crust. 

Makes 1- 14” crust

1 1/8     tsp active dry yeast (she uses Fleischmann’s)
1 1/2     tsp white sugar
3/4    cup warm water (110F)
Dissolve yeast and sugar in water, let sit 10 minutes.

1/2    tsp iodized salt
1           Tblsp olive oil      
1-2        tsp garlic powder
1-2        tsp italian seasoning

Add garlic powder and italian seasoning to taste. She goes closer to 2 tsp.
Mix above ingredients into the yeast mixture and mix in 1 3/4- 2 cups bread flour.
Knead well (by hand), approx 5 minutes.  You have enough flour added when the mixture is no longer sticky.

Place dough in an oiled bowl, turn dough to coat with oil (it keeps it from drying out), then cover with plastic wrap and a dishcloth and set in a warm spot until it doubles in size.  She usually makes the dough 3 hours before hand. 

When ready to make the pie, she takes out the dough, adds flour to the counter and rolls (with roller) it to a 14” size.

Add your favorite ingredients. A trick we do is to add cheese, either Monterey Jack or Smoked provolone slices to the crust before adding the sauce as seen below to the lower right side.  Every pie cooks differently; ours run 5-8 minutes usually. I check the top and crust when I like what I see I pull the pie.


Pizza crust recipe for pizza on the Big Green Egg kamado grill

Check out John's post about How To Cook Pizza on a Big Green Egg Kamado Grill for more info about grilling pizzas.

3 comments:

  1. Awesome review! Love the idea and seems like a true value add for BGE users. Question, does this device work on other kamado cookers or just the Eggs?

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    1. I know it fits the Big Green Egg and Kamado Joe perfectly. John also said it fits his Grill Dome if he plays with it and gets it just right. I'll ask the developer but my guess would be that it will fit any kamado that has the same diameter as an Egg/Kamado Joe. It's a fixed wedge so the angle would have to be right too, so a kamado with a weird hinge angle would probably not work.

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  2. Hey, Chris... I agree 100%. After i bought it, I thought... what the hell do I need this for? Then I made a couple pies on it (Chicago Thin for me... crispy) and it was great. Ingredients cooked perfectly, crispy crust... and plenty of heat to do several. I still want to try a calzone.

    Thanks for a great blog!

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