Ooni Outdoor Pizza Oven Koda 16
Artisinal Pizza at Home with the Ooni Koda 16
I test a lot of kitchen equipment and constantly take note of the trends in any and everything related to cooking and baking. Sure, it’s part of my day job but I’m also naturally curious. I like to investigate what’s a flash in the pan, pardon the pun, and what’s a keeper. Naturally when outdoor pizza ovens became the hottest thing the past two years, I was all in. Anything that boasts it can give you 900 F degrees and a beautifully seared restaurant-quality pizza is impossible to ignore. Plus an outdoor pizza oven is every cook’s dream and as a baker, the idea of being able to make something that is pizzeria-authentic, on my own deck (just think of the socially distant pizza parties!) JUST because I can, was irresistible.
I bought an Ooni Koda 16 Pizza oven since that was the more hyped brand and easy to get hold of in my area, given they were on back order every other week but were being replenished plus the company is really responsive in terms of customer service. When the unit arrived I thought – whoa – this is heavy and what if it’s complicated to put together? But happily, it was surprisingly portable and it is out-of-the-box ready. There isn’t any assemble whatsoever! Well, a little. You unfold the standing legs and insert the pizza stone. Then you attach it to a gas tank, turn it on and wait for magic.
First things first – you need a fire and heat-proof table to put the pizza oven on, that’s safe and stable. The company sells one but I did a DIY pizza table by topping an Ikea $30 table with large ceramic tiles from the local hardware store. I just placed them down and instantly – I had a beautiful table that could support the pizza oven and provide both workspace for manoeuvring the pizzas and whatever accoutrements
The Ooni, as promised goes to 900 F in 20-30 minutes and the combination of the L-shaped ring of open flame and the authentic pizza stone-baked base combine to offer perfect results, even for a pizza newbie. What you need to do however, to get a beautifully done top and well-browned bottom is this. Firstly, give it a full 20-30 minutes to get the heat at 900F and let it stay there for 5-10 minutes. Then lower the heat to 600 F or so, just turn the knob to the lowest position, and put the pizza in the oven. Turn it every minute or so that each part of the crust gets done evenly. By the time to finish rotating it all around, the pizza id done top and bottom! If you just turn it to 900 F you will end up with a scorched pizza on top that’s also raw on the bottom.
I also tested naan bread with the Ooni and it was outstanding, as well as a Piri Piri chicken. That came spatch-cocked and marinated in a package. I just put the prepared chicken in a cast iron pan and placed it in the pre-heated (to medium, about 500 F) Ooni and rotated it once or twice. It cooked in about 45 minutes.
I’m sharing some recipes and photos from my Ooni experience. If you need further information about getting an Ooni or their other items (pizza peel, thermal thermometer, etc.), check out their website. They also have a dual fuel (gas and wood pellets) option and a smaller Ooni 12 but I found the Koda 16 the best all around oven for my needs. It also bears saying that in this 'pandemic' summer, having something to cook outdoors with was fun and safe and a change from the usual BBQ.
Piri Piri Chicken - just purchase a pre-marinated butterflied chicken from your supermarket and cook it in a cast iron skillet for 45 minutes on medium heat in the Ooni, turning every ten minutes or so.
Cold Rise Rustic Pizza Dough
I cannot tell you how many ways I make pizza dough and how I like each and every one. But this one is about the easiest and gives you a crisp, bistro style pizza. It’s better if you let it rest in the fridge overnight but even made the same day, it’s awesome. This is the pizza I used for the cheese, marinara, olive and basil pizza shown here.
½ teaspoon instant yeast
1 ½ cups water, room temperature
4-5 cups bread flour
1 3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
In a mixer bowl or bread machine, whisk the yeast and water together. Add in most of the flour, salt, sugar and olive oil. Mix, then gently knead, adding in more flour as required to make a soft dough. Cover and let rise 8-12 hours. (or after 6 hours if it is later in the day, refrigerate the dough). Place the dough in a plastic bag which has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Refrigerate overnight or up until two days.
To bake –divide dough into three.
Dust a pizza peel with semolina. Pan or stretch out dough for pizza and then lift and place on peel, stretching it again gently to have a round, 9-12 inches in diameter. Smear with olive oil and then put on the toppings you like or follow a recipe for the pizza of your choice. Cover with a large plastic sheet while pizza oven is heating. Heat pizza oven to 800-900 F (20-30 minutes). Lower temperature to low or medium on the temperature dial for ten minutes. Then place pizza in oven, turning every 20-40 seconds to evenly bake it, about 2-3 minutes total.
Repeat with other portions of dough.
Makes 3 pizzas
This sunny and oh-so-gourmet treat is justifiably trendy and a perfect spring pizza. It calls for rustic pizza dough, some herbs, garlic, lots of fresh lemon juice and arugula.
1 batch Cold Rise Pizza Dough
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon water
½ cup unsalted butter, diced
Salt, pepper, hot sauce to taste
Juice of one large lemon
2-4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, crushed
6-8 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella and/or feta
2-3 cups arugula
Prepare the pizza dough in the morning or the day before. Place the dough in a plastic bag which has been lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Refrigerate overnight or up until two days.
When you are ready to make pizza (do this 1-3 hours ahead of serving), divide dough into three and let rest while you prepare Hollandaise Sauce (this is totally optional but totally delicious).
For the Hollandaise Sauce, in a small saucepan, whisk the egg yolks, lemon juice and water over low heat, for 5 minutes. Whisk in the butter and cook, allowing mixture to thicken to a sauce and stirring all the while. Allow to cool, cover and let stand while preparing pizzas.
Dust a pizza peel with semolina. Pan or stretch out dough for pizza and then lift and place on peel, stretching it again gently to have a round, 9-12 inches in diameter. Dust the dough with dust with salt, pepper, and some slices of the cheese. Top with the arugula, more cheese and the crushed garlic, salt, pepper and the juice of half a lemon.
Cover with a large plastic sheet while pizza oven is heating. Heat pizza oven to 800-900 F (20-30 minutes). Lower temperature to low or medium on the temperature dial for ten minutes. Then place pizza in oven, turning every 20-40 seconds to evenly bake it, about 2-3 minutes total.
Repeat with other portions of dough.
Makes 3 pizzas