Fire it up Cook up a storm out­doors with a fab­u­lous pizza oven

EX­TEND YOUR COOK­ING ZONE TO THE GREAT OUT­DOORS WITH A PIZZA OVEN, AND SEE YOUR CULI­NARY SKILL SET SKY­ROCKET

Home Beautiful - - CONTENTS - WORDS GAVIN KIRK

Ev­ery­one loves pizza, right? But be­fore you scroll through the food-de­liv­ery apps on your smart­phone to or­der in your favourite, have you thought about in­stalling a pizza oven in your own back­yard? Af­ter all, you can’t beat the flavour and brag-wor­thy re­sults of home­made doughy de­lights, let alone the wide range of other cook­ing op­tions these ovens bring to the ta­ble.

To­day’s mar­ket­place is filled with do­mes­tic-scale pizza ovens – pow­ered by wood or gas – from the com­pact bench­top mod­els to free­stand­ing ver­sions that can fire up a feast with ease. But be­fore you open up your wal­let, first con­sider the space you have avail­able. For spa­cious decks or court­yards, a large-sized oven won't feel out of place, and can eas­ily merge with a new or ex­ist­ing out­door kitchen area. For oc­cu­pants of smaller liv­ing spa­ces, with ve­ran­dahs or other nooks, you’re not left un­catered for – track down a small-scale model that you can bench mount or build in. Here’s your in­spi­ra­tion.

think out­side the (pizza) box TOP TIPS TO TAKE YOUR COOK­ING TO NEW HEIGHTS

• Most of the time, it’s likely you’ll quickly turn on the oven while you pre­pare a batch of piz­zas, then slide them in, one at a time, to feed the bel­lies of the nearby troops at the ta­ble. But when it comes time to cook a full menu in a wood-fired pizza oven, this re­quires plan­ning, plan­ning and then more plan­ning. You can use the high heat to turn out de­li­cious piz­zas, slow-cook meats on medium heat or use the steady, low heat to dry fruit.

Gas-pow­ered pizza ovens are a more con­ve­nient way of cook­ing out­doors, and work much like your in­door oven. At the spin of a dial, you can set the tem­per­a­ture and cook with con­fi­dence. Wood-fired ovens are a lit­tle more tricky for the in­ex­pe­ri­enced cook. It’s worth read­ing up on the best ways to build the fire and, of course, be open to trial and er­ror. It’s all part of the fun! You’ll need a tem­per­a­ture mon­i­tor to gauge the heat in­side the oven and to learn how to use it to your ad­van­tage with cook­ing a range of menu items. Never fear – once you get the knack, you’ll be cater­ing like a pro.

An all-day pizza-oven party is a fab­u­lous method of cook­ing for an event at your place, and in­vites your guests to get hands-on with the prepa­ra­tion of the day’s meals. Just write up your menu in ad­vance, have the in­gre­di­ents ready to go, then wel­come peo­ple to cook at their leisure. You can keep it sim­ple with DIY piz­zas or ex­per­i­ment with roast chicken and whole fish, just like chef Martin Boetz in HB’s web se­ries, Cooks Co-op. And why not fin­ish off the feast with damper, cakes or your favourite bis­cuits? As Martin says, “Ev­ery­thing seems to taste bet­ter straight out of the pizza oven!”

“of course, most home­made peo­ple buy piz­zas. a pizza oven to cook up But don't un­der­es­ti­mate their power for roast­ing meats, ve­g­ies, bakes and bread” - Martin boetz, cooks co-op

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