How to hack your own pizza oven

Russ Parsons
The California Cook
Here's how to turn a run-of-the-mill grill and a $150 kit into a wood-fired pizza oven in your own backyard

Building a wood-burning pizza oven in your backyard isn't as hard as you might think -- when you start with the KettlePizza. But which KettlePizza kit should you buy? It depends on how willing you are to try a few simple hacks.

For the unadventurous, undoubtedly the best combination to buy is the $400 Serious Eats edition, which comes with everything you need to make great pizzas right out of the box -- most notably a heavy steel cap that fits on top to retain and reflect heat.

But if you've got a little ingenuity, you can get much the same effect with the basic $150 kit, following the advice posted on the Serious Eats website by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt.

The trick is reducing the amount of air that circulates over the pizza and capturing the full reflected heat so your pie browns on top at the same rate that it's browning on the bottom of the crust.

I did this by using a BakingSteel that I use in my oven for indoor pizzas, flanked by a few quarry tiles that I had used for baking pizzas before I got the BakingSteel.

There is still a bit of a learning curve required to manage the savage heat (I regularly got oven temperatures in the 700- to 800-degree range).

But as you can see, the results are worth it. Even a simple pizza made with packaged Trader Joe's pizza dough and topped only with mozzarella, sliced cherry tomatoes, slivered red onion and some fresh basil is a thing of beauty after the bake.

Are you a food geek? Follow me on Twitter: @russ_parsons1

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