Tranman ... I have been on a "mission" to perfecting the baking technique for pizza on the Big Green Egg ..haven't gotten to the Primo yet but I think you can apply some of my "learnings' to the Primo. So here are my suggestions.
1. Set a target temp dome of 650 degrees. this is hot enough to get a good result and not so hot that the thing goes "nuclear" on you.
Thanks for the suggestions SGP, I know it takes time to post up and I always appreciate it when ppl do. A dome temp of 650 on the Primo represents upwards of 700F at the grate, 850F if using firebricks, and 950-1000+ if using a glazed ceramic stone. I agree, 850-1000F is hot enough.
2. Fire it up with nothing in it except the charcoal and let it get to 650 and then burn a while at that temp with nothing in it which will allow the dome to absorb as much heat as it can. This will provide for the "radiant" heat that you will need to cook the top of the pies.
With my preferred setup it's better to build the mini oven while the coals are just heating up not when it's 650-700 at the grate. At those temps the dome has no problem heating up at all. Also the mini oven or any bricks have no issues heating up quickly at those temps and at that proximity to the fire. I know you can appreciate this if you have a BGE.
I have done extensive testing with the primo and radiant heating off of the dome ceramic. The truth is that the dome is too high up. You have to dome the pie or get it within just an inch of the top dome to get the proper browning within a short bake time. This a problem as the dome slowly narrows at the top. I have literally dome the pie so far up the crust and cheese touches the top of the dome, not an ideal situation. Also b/c of the shape of the Primo, it's possible to not dome the pie all the way up but only about 75% of the way up. This will allow the crust to brown on the left or right depending on where you place the pie. With rotating the pie every 1 min or so you can get an even browning of the crust. This method does work but I'm currently working on a different method. The mini oven method which is working fairly well. I just have to iron out a few bugs. Trust me when I say i have done extensive testing on both the Primo and my home oven.
3. then insert your stone etc. Insulate your stone from the bottom as we do on the egg ...... then monitor the stone temp and when it gets to 500 or so start baking your pies ... the dome should have enough radiant heat stored to bake the top nicely .. Once the stone gets over 700 or so , I have found that charring on the bottom happens before the top is done.
Yes if you want to bake at 500. I want to be able to bake at 500, 600, 700, 800, and beyond. Why? for the sake of learning. To say i can do it? To know what it's like to have been there and done that. To have more options. To make myself a more versatile pizza maker. And b/c I have the time and the need to know. At 700, the charring on the bottom happens before the top is done.
This is true only b/c there is a discrepancy between the top and the bottom heat. If it was even you would get charring of the top and bottom at approximately the same time. This is happening b/c your top dome is too high up. One solution to fixing this (not that it needs fixing, but only if you want) is to lower the ceiling, which is why I'm experimenting with the mini-oven technique. The idea is to capture radiant heat off the top of the lowered ceiling which is about 1" from the pie. Which is also why Pizza hog's idea of using charcoal in a pan above the pie is a brilliant one. I haven't tested it yet, but have high hopes it will work.
Just remember that burning on the bottom is the problem that we are all trying to overcome. I have found that the Large BGE seems to work best because the charcoal is deeper in the base ... farther from the baking stone etc.
Not necessarily. It is a problem for me as well but it can be a solution instead of a problem. One solution is to cook at a lower grate/dome temp to reduce the temp of the hearth (bottom stone). The issue with this is that if you reduce the heat, you also reduce the radiant heat from the top. Thus the solution of lowering the ceiling (as oppose to doming the pie) AND PH's suggestion of adding a top heat source. The benefit of cooking with a lower grate/dome temp is the reduce use of coal to achieve the same goal - which is even browning of top and bottom.
Pizza vids are all at : http://www.fredsmusicandbbq.com/category_s/230.htm
Also there are a couple of videos showing things I learned at Tony Gemignani's school and there will be more to follow as I get time.
Thanks for the vids, I'll check them out. I'll see if i can dig up a picture of a beautiful pie I cooked using the method you describe. It works well so why change it? Well it was a 6 min bake, which is good for some pies but doesn't cut it for the "elite" patsy's or nearlypolitan pies I want to bake.
Also please feel free to make any more suggestions. The more the merrier. The more brainstorming we have, the more solutions will come about.