The original Mighty Pizza Oven (“MPO”) thread is drifting off target, so I’m going to start a new one for this review.
A couple weeks ago, Bert (MightyPizzaOven) asked me if I would test the MPO. With the Pizza Summit just a couple days away, the timing was perfect. The guys gave it a run through its paces with an emergency dough as you saw in the TPS thread. I was working on other things when they were playing with it and didn’t really have a chance to participate. Tonight I gave it a try, and my conclusion is that this is the little oven that could.
Picking a dough for this oven was somewhat a shot in the dark. I settled in on a dough that was quite a departure from my normal dough while still retaining some of my signature:
64% water (effective ~67% hydration)
7.5% Ischia culture
2.0% shortening (HT Chau)
16 hours at 60F bulk + 6 hours 60F balls + 4 hours 77F balls (14” pies, 370g balls)
I started by opening a bottle of Greenock Creek Cabernet 2001. Then I covered the sides of the grill with foil and, let the MPO pre-heat longer than the guys did at the Summit – about 45 minutes. By this time, it was showing a little under 900F on the thermometer (I really don’t know what this really indicates, if anything) and 550F on the stone. I don’t remember if we even took the stone temp at the Summit, but it was only showing 600F or so on the thermometer, if I remember correctly.
The first pie was my favorite two cheese – a thin sauce made with Cento crushed tomatoes, LOTS of evoo, and some salt, HEB dry part-skim mozz, white cheddar, and black pepper. I didn’t time, it, but I would guess about 5 minutes. As you will see in the pictures, the top heat was there and the top actually baked faster than the bottom. This pie was not as crispy at all – it was more NP-like that NY.
By the time we finished the first pie, the stone was up to 650F (the thermometer was still showing a little under 900F). The second pie was pepperoni (Hormel pillow pack which I personally like). The sauce for this pie and the next was Cento crushed tomatoes, a little evoo, sugar, and salt. The cheese was HEB part-skim dry mozz. As you will see, there was a significant improvement in charring on the bottom. This pie timed in at exactly 5 minutes, and the crust had a bit of crispiness.
By the time we finished the second pie, the stone was up to 750F, and again, the thermometer was still showing a little under 900F. The third pie was a spicy “margherita” with sauce and HEB whole milk dry mozz; Calabrian chilies and basil Napolitano from the garden added post bake. This pie was wonderful. The charring was beautiful, and it had a nice crunch. The flavor was all there. I didn’t time it, but I’d guess it was also about 5 minutes. If I were to use it again, I would pre-heat to 750F on the stone. It might be different for other grills. One would have to experiment to find out.
There was some concern at the Summit that it would be difficult for one person to use the MPO by himself. I had no problems. I was a little nervous about landing a 14” pie on a 14.5” target, but my old BBQ mod pizza skills were there when I needed them. (http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,9614.0.html
). One person can easily manage this oven. The only difficulty is that with my IR burner at the back, the MPO just barely fits, and you have to slide it forwards a little top open, and it with messed with the foil I put on the sides a little when it slid. I weighted down the foil with a couple large nuts and bolts, so it was not an issue.
There is no doubt in my mind that 1) the MPO can make a better pie than an un-modded home oven, and 2) with just a little effort, one could develop a recipe that works beautifully in it. My first attempt was very close, and it is a style I know little about.
Bottom line: the MPO is not going to bake NP pies. If that is your goal, you will need to look elsewhere. It may say it’s 900F above the pie, but it isn’t. I got 2:30 pies out of my BBQ mod, but that was a wholly different animal as you will see in the link above. Notwithstanding, the MPO can bake 5 minute pies that beat anything I’ve ever pulled out of my home oven, and there is no modding involved – other than a little foil anyways.
Without regard to the cost of the MPO, I would confidently pit the MPO against any grill insert oven I’ve seen.