Possibly the greatest product I’ve ever owned: The KettlePizza

“The greatest product I’ve ever owned”… Ok, first of all, I know how this sounds. So let’s clear that out of the way first. I AM NOT GETTING PAID FOR THIS POST. And I am not telling anybody they should run to the store and get it. That’s all up to you. But I just LOVE the KettlePizza. Get over it, ok?

Let me tell you why. Ever since I was a little kid, I have been fascinated with eating and baking pizzas. So much. My dad would make our own pizzas, every weekend. No store-bought cardboard bullshit, but the real deal. He made the dough, and after that, the sauce. He would slice and dice every topping up into perfection, a little too perfect if you ask me, as it took hours, but hey, who doesn’t remember the scene from Goodfellas where Paulie (in prison) slices the garlic with a razor. You can’t beat that and you certainly don’t argue with these guys. You don’t argue with my dad either, so there you have it. Slicing it to perfection it is. 🙂

Check out the brilliant Goodfellas-scene right here:

Paul Cicero used a razor blade to slice garlic so thin it liquified in the pan with just a little olive oil. Vinnie made the sauce, adding veal, beef and pork for flavor, but was known for using too many onions. Johnny Dio cooked up great steaks in a frying pan. They received regular deliveries of fresh steaks and lobster which they kept on ice. Henry Hill smuggled in foods such as bread, peppers, onions, salami, prosciutto, cheese, scotch, and red/white wines.

 

That scene alone should make you hungry. For me, it just tipped the balance towards taking food more serious. Having helped out my dad hundreds of times baking pizza pie, the Goodfellas-scene made me realize how high Italians and Italian-Americans value their food. I was 14 at the time and Italian food has been my favorite food since. A lot has been written about the history of the pizza and I am not going to elaborate on it here. Should you want to know more, click here and check out the Wiki.

Ever since I moved out of my parents’ home (back when I was 18 YO), I have been practicing the art of making pizza. The biggest step forward was when my my wife left a Croque-monsieur baking in my old oven, forgot about it and managed to get it to short-circuit and blow the fuse resulting in the melting of some vital parts due to overheating.

Bingo! I bought a powerful Bosch oven with a 300° C pizza-program. To complete the upgrade, I got myself two pizza stones. Great stuff! The hotness of the preheated stone combined with its porosity ensures great dry crusts which beat the crusts of pizzas baked on the regular oven tray by miles. Through the years, I have been able to further push the quality of the pizza-baking my dad taught me towards perfection by changing many little details. Different kinds of dough, flours/farinas as well as different ways to make the sauce and the toppings. But what my kitchen still lacked, was a real wood pizza oven. This has always been my dream. This dream became a lot more vivid one day when I discovered a blog explaining how to build a wood pizza oven in the backyard. I have lost the url to that particular blog, but today, many blogs feature information about building either a brick pizza oven or an adobe variant. Here’s an example. I never mustered the courage to do this though, both because of the space I would lose in my not too large backyard and because of safety concerns. Building a DIY pizza oven could be fun, but what if the construction proved flawed?

You can also upgrade your oven by adding some DIY parts, but that’s just not my cup of tea. Too much hassle because you’d have to change it back and forth all the time…

That’s where the KettlePizza came in. I first discovered their website a few months ago, midwinter actually. Not exactly the time to start cooking in the backyard, but I could never get the KettlePizza out of my head after that. Soon after, I ordered the KettlePizza. It looked like the perfect solution for my predicament, and as it turned out, it was!

I also loved that the KettlePizzas are produced in a barn in Massachusetts. How cool is that? Sounds so retro. Rather than imported from China, it’s actually made in the USA!

So, how does it actually work and why is it so great? Let me quote from their website:

Everyone wants to cook pizza on their grill! Traditional grills, however, are not suited for cooking pizza.  Pizza needs high heat and constant temperature to cook properly.  This is difficult to achieve in a regular grill because the constant opening/closing of the grill top leads to massive variation in cooking temperature. The common result is a well done bottom and under cooked toppings.

The Solution:
We solved this problem by designing a stainless steel sleeve that fits between the kettle grill bottom and top creating a cooking chamber.  There is an opening in the front that allows access to the chamber.  The heat comes up from the back of the kettle, along the rear of the cooking chamber and over the top exiting the front opening.  This creates a “consistent” heat loss that flows over the top of the pizza ensuring a properly cooked top.  A door is not necessary and the product can maintain consistent temperatures upwards of 750 degrees F with a base of charcoal and hard wood.
The Product:
We named the product “KettlePizza”.  The KettlePizza kit includes a laser machined stainless steel riser sleeve, a hi-temp thermometer, wood handles with stainless hardware and a 14 inch pro pizza pan. Deluxe versions include a hand made cordeirite USA manufactured stone and pizza peel.  Users can assemble and install the riser sleeve in minutes.  The sleeve creates a cooking chamber that doesn’t need to be opened to access the food. The temperature remains steady yielding superior pizza.  You can use hardwood to achieve a great smokey flavor too.

As soon as the KettlePizza arrived, I ripped open the box, assembled the parts and tested it the same night. With no experience, I got it to work perfectly and managed to crank the temperature up to about 900 degrees F. using a mix of charcoal and hardwood, just as the manual advised.

   

The results were stunning, the pizzas smashing, baked in minutes, eaten in seconds! The pizzas slid out of the BBQ with a perfect crust, beautiful toppings and even with those great dough bubbles only real pizzerias serve you. Awesome! Let the summer begin. Oh, and in case you’re wondering where to get one, here’s the link to the inventor’s website. His website shows a lot more about the product and tells you exactly how it works, in text, pictures and videos. The inventor’s name is Al Contarino and he’s a genius. Al, thanks for creating the KettlePizza. Dad, thanks for teaching me to love pizza. Next weekend, I’ll be sure to have a beer on the both you!