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900 Degrees for Pizza


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Hi, All.  First time on this forum and starting my second month owning any kind of ceramic grill (KJ Classic III).  Having lots of fun and getting good results for a rookie (although lots of previous experience with my Weber Smoky Mountain).  Pardon me if this topic has been covered many times in the past.

 

I'm getting into making pizza.  Done it three times so far (pizza stone only, not DoJoe).  Good results, but I can't get the internal temperature over 700 degrees, and mostly it's hanging out around 600-650.  First time I definitely didn't add enough charcoal, second time used KJ charcoal and third time Jealous Devil.  Third time I used close to 5 pounds (I actually weighed it).  Note that it was probably 40-50 degrees Fahrenheit outside the whole time, and falling.  Used three KJ fire starters.

 

Is the 900 degrees really possible?  Only possible on hot days?  Requires charcoal loaded higher than the low setting of the racks?

 

We've actually been making Neapolitan dough (00 flour) and letting it rise overnight, using home made tomato sauce, so we're committed.  Just want to get the best result possible.

 

Any recommendations?

 

Thanks.

 

Mike

 

 

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:welcome: donkeylegskc.  I speak only from my personal experience (although I've got quite a lot of it) and suggest that aiming for and maintaining temperatures of 850*-900* is not advisable on a kamado.  There are pizza ovens specifically designed and constructed to achieve and maintain those types of temperatures, but IMO a ceramic kamado is not one of them.

I did not use a traditional Neapolitan dough recipe, but achieved what I thought were delicious results in the 600*-650* range.

Others may have different opinions and experiences.  It will be interesting to see the range of responses.

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Thanks Jack.  I read a lot more of the overall pizza thread after posting my question and saw many comments similar.  It’s a little disappointing to me, but I think it makes sense.  In addition, I agree, if you really want 900 degree pizza, get an Oona.

 

That said, if I wanted to try (once), how do you get there?  10 pounds of Royal Oak?

 

Mike

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I'm not sure, as I've never tried it.  But, I'd guess a very full fire box, lit in multiple places, and both vents wide open.

There used to be a member here who seemed to take pride in getting his KJ up to 800*-900* just to sear a steak :roll:.  I don't know what the long term effects of that were on his kamado, but it just seemed so excessive and unnecessary to me.  I know it's not quite the same if you're looking to make a true Neapolitan crust, but I wonder if it's worth it in terms of possible gasket damage, damage to deflectors and pizza stones. and even stress to the ceramics that may not manifest right away but appear later, all for a "just once" experiment.

 

Does KJ still offer a lifetime warranty on ceramics? 

 

 

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Royal Oak or Rockwood charcoal burns hotter than jealous devil or kamado joe coal.  You will need to put as much as you can get in the firebox.  

 

I have had my kamados to 900 degrees a few times and I do NOT feel safe with them at those temperatures.  While they CAN do it, they are not designed to handle it.  The bands that hold the kamado together get hot and LOOSE.  I went through the same phase you are going through right now.  700 is a more reasonable temperature for kamados for high temp pizza.  You can get great neapolitan style pizzas at that temp.  I did go the pizza oven route to handle my desire for neapolitan style pizza.  

 

Jack is correct on the lighting technique.. I would use four different firestarters spread out in the coal pile to get it going.  Just take the top vent off the grill and leave the bottom vent wide open.  Prepare yourself for damage to the grill.  

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I've had my KJ Classic II for almost a year now and usually make pizza in it once every week or two (I am doing so tonight!). I've cooked at 800F+ a few times but mostly around 650-700. Haven't noticed much difference between results at those temperatures apart from the fact it probably takes a minute or two longer to cook at 650-700F. Agree with John above, remove the control tower and leave the bottom vent wide open. Oh and use as much charcoal as you can fit in the firebox!

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Thanks guys.  I think you all are telling the same (compelling) story.  And I have been happy with my 700 degree results.  

 

I have been reading the charcoal thread as well, so will be turning my focus to playing with charcoal.

 

Thanks, John, for creating this site.  I've been watching a lot of your videos lately.  Looking forward to years of good cooking.

 

Mike

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4 hours ago, donkeylegskc said:

Thanks guys.  I think you all are telling the same (compelling) story.  And I have been happy with my 700 degree results.  

Yeah, as the apostle Paul said, "all things are permitted however not all things are profitable" totally different context, but the words still ring true in this case. Kamados, IMO, are designed for low, moderate, and moderate high temps. If you are looking for a high temp pizza use Ken Forkish's dough recipes in his book "Elements of Pizza", cook the pie in your kamado at 550-600 and then hit it with a torch to finish it. personally I don't work that hard and love the pizza I can make at 550-600 dgs. It eats just fine. Best bet if you want to cook at 900 dgs, is to get a Wood Fired Oven. 

 

 

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Another vote for the same wisdom.

 

900 degree pizza cooks can be done and I have done them several times. But a dedicated (and cheap) Ooni or similar pizza oven will get up to 900 degrees in 15 minutes and sustain it with much less fuel - especially with gas option.

 

Sadly, Kamados at 900 end up being expensive in terms of gaskets, lump and the hair on your arms and eyebrows.

 

Opening and closing the dome often and quickly at 900 to manage a pizza cooking in 60-90 seconds is also a bit of a problem and can be hazardous.

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The main issue with using a kamado for pizza is the distribution of the heat. Sure (if you’re brave enough) you can get a really high temp - 800°+ if you want.
 

However, the source of that heat is all below the pizza stone. There’s no way to make proper Neapolitan pizza when the heat is set up this way - you need a balance between the base and the dome to cook evenly in just 90s or so. 
 

As others have said, get an ooni or similar and you’ll have a lot more fun a lot more safely. Horses for courses. 

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Thanks everyone.  I'm a believer.  Last night confirmed.  Perfect result.

 

For the record, filled my basket with KJ chunks, taking care to put big chunks on the bottom.  Used three starter cubes evenly distributed and let burn for about 15 minutes.  Closed the lid with vents fully open.  After temperature reached around 350 degrees (maybe 15-20 minutes) put deflector plates and pizza stone in (properly separated by pipe fittings).  Temperature steadily climbed and then obviously peaked at 700 (another 20 mins or so).  I let it sit there around 15 more minutes and put my first pizza on.

 

Result was excellent.  700 maintained for all three pizzas I cooked (and that sucker was hot!).  00 flour dough rested overnight, buffalo mozzarella, oil on edges of crust.

 

I can see how people could get burned even at this low temperature.  :)  No interest in getting to 900.

 

Thanks again, and I'm excited about future pizzas.  Got the result I want.

 

Mike

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39 minutes ago, Jack. said:

I'm happy to hear that you were pleased with the lower temp results.  :good:

Me too,  and actually 600 - 650 is plenty hot enough and  will turn out an excellent pies. A little hint is to use an infrared laser thermometer with a shot down the vent tube onto your pizza stone itself to read its actual temp. I cook pizza when the stone is anywhere between 600-650. Also is you want some more char on top of your pie, hitting the pies surface with a good hand held torch does the trick. I use this one https://www.ronxs.com/product-page/ronxs-butane-torch-powerful-adjustable-flame-professional-toch-refillable

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As many toys as I've bought already, I can't bring myself to buy a laser thermometer for the stone surface.  I figure if the ambient is 700 for 15 minutes or so, that's the best I can do and doesn't matter what the laser says.

 

I'm sure the day will come.  So many toys, so little time....

 

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Congratulations on your successful pizza cook. One suggestion though... I would put the deflectors

in the Kamado as soon as you fire it off. Putting a cool deflector into a hot unit may cause it to crack.

It will also cause the temp to drop sightly being that it's a cool mass. Just a  thought.

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