Friday, December 15, 2017
Features and More

Big Green Egg fans find it works great as a pizza oven

Eggheads find each other. We are a proud and, let's face it, competitive tribe.

It must have shown on my face. A holiday party was in full swing and we had to yell to be heard. Pinellas County Realtor Phil Hanna was talking about his big smoker and all it could do: a pork shoulder, a brisket, a whole rack of baby backs. I was devoted to mine, obsessed with my smaller version, but it couldn't do a whole rack of baby backs. It's true, I was experiencing Big Green Egg envy.

A couple of weeks later, my Mini Egg had been relegated to the garage and my husband (best one ever) had presented me with a Medium Green Egg. With a 15-inch grid diameter and 177 square inches of cooking area, my new Egg can tackle an 18-pound turkey, six burger patties or four racks of ribs hung vertically.

Big Green what?

The kamado-style ceramic cooker does indeed look like a dimpled, forest-green egg. It burns lump wood charcoal and can grill, smoke or even bake bread or pizza. It has a draft opening on the bottom and a wheel-shaped damper unit at the top that both control air flow — low tech, but it is surprisingly easy to regulate temperature, which you can keep low and slow for smoking, or ratchet up all the way to 650 degrees for a serious searing.

There's a fansite at greeneggers.com and every year there's an "Eggtoberfest" held at the Big Green Egg company headquarters in Tucker, Ga., as well as numerous other "Eggfests" around the country. Eggheads get together to finesse the details of grilling and smoking, to brag about their mad skills and to exchange recipes and tips.

I've been going it alone, reading up here and there, but mostly cracking the Egg empirically, one rack of ribs or grilled chicken at a time. My current preoccupation is pizza, the Egg providing the right amount of heat and smoke and moisture to produce pizzeria-quality pies.

I fill my Egg with charcoal, get a nice hot fire, then close the damper and vent to hold the interior at around 350 degrees.

Sometimes I make my own dough, but recently I've been on a kick of buying Publix pizza dough from the bakery counter, proofing it at home, then dividing each package into two dough balls. I roll them out thin (it's glutinous dough, so you have to muscle it for a while or it snaps back) and brush one side with olive oil. That side goes face-down on the Egg, lid closed, and about eight minutes later I tong it out, brush the other side with olive oil, then add my toppings on the already cooked side. Another eight minutes or so and you have a crisp/chewy, smoky, blister-bubbly pizza.

Tips

• Liquid is not your friend. You want zucchini or mushrooms on your pizza? Saute them first in a dry pan and blot them on a paper towel.

• Tomato sauce, sure. But keep going. A base of fresh ricotta or pesto is a good starting point. Even a puree of roasted red bell pepper and garlic is tasty.

• Not everything goes on the pizza before it bakes. Lemon zest or herbs like fresh basil, or lightly dressed arugula and prosciutto get sprinkled just before service to preserve their liveliness.

• Because you're making 10-inch-or-so pies one at a time, structure a party around it. Guests can mingle and sip, awaiting a slice of the next one. Or they can even get in on some style-your-own artistry from an array of topping bowls. Below are my favorite combos of the moment.

Laura Reiley can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293.

   
Comments
Straz Center reviewing Tavis Smiley theatrical tour in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

Straz Center reviewing Tavis Smiley theatrical tour in wake of sexual misconduct allegations

The theatrical tour about the death of Martin Luther King Jr. that broadcaster Tavis Smiley is slated to bring to Tampa in March is still on schedule, according to the David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts, though it is under review.PBS s...
Updated: 12 hours ago
This week's top holiday events: Parades, Christmas lights, theme parks and more

This week's top holiday events: Parades, Christmas lights, theme parks and more

PARADES Homosassa Christmas Boat Parade Parade begins at Marker 75 by Bird Island. Free. Homosassa Springs Marina, 10806 W Halls River Road, Homosassa. 6 p.m. Dec. 16.   Indian Rocks Beach Boat Parade It begins at the Holiday Inn Harbourside and...
Published: 12/14/17
Bar review: Spanish flair at Bulla Gastrobar in South Tampa

Bar review: Spanish flair at Bulla Gastrobar in South Tampa

Take a second and try to think of a few of the world’s biggest drinking cultures. Ireland is a freebie, but then you’ll probably move onto Germany, Russia and possibly even South Korea (yep, South Korea goes hard).How about Spain? No, I’m not just ta...
Published: 12/14/17
From Crystal River to Brooksville, branch out to shop on these unexpected main streets

From Crystal River to Brooksville, branch out to shop on these unexpected main streets

You don’t have to stare at a greeting card to picture a bustling old main street lined with decorated shops and lampposts. Historic small-town shopping districts are easy to find, and more charming than Walmart. Beyond the downtowns of St. Pet...
Published: 12/14/17
New locations for Tampa’s New Year’s Eve fireworks, plus a Mario Lopez appearance

New locations for Tampa’s New Year’s Eve fireworks, plus a Mario Lopez appearance

New Year’s Eve fireworks in downtown Tampa will be a little different this year, as free, public viewing moves from Channelside Bay Plaza to Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park behind Amalie Arena due to ongoing construction. Meanwhile, the Pied Pipe...
Published: 12/14/17
Poll: Most Americans say 'Merry Christmas' and prefer Rudolph over Charlie Brown

Poll: Most Americans say 'Merry Christmas' and prefer Rudolph over Charlie Brown

The Monmouth University Polling institute released the results of their Christmas poll today.
Published: 12/14/17
‘This has gone too far,’ says defiant Tavis Smiley after PBS suspends his show for ‘misconduct’

‘This has gone too far,’ says defiant Tavis Smiley after PBS suspends his show for ‘misconduct’

PBS is "indefinitely" suspending distribution of the late-night talk show "Tavis Smiley" after multiple misconduct allegations emerged against the show’s 53-year-old host, PBS announced Wednesday.While a statement from a PBS spokeswoman did not say w...
Published: 12/14/17
Exploring the incredible color, cuisine, culture of India

Exploring the incredible color, cuisine, culture of India

DELHIAs I slid my shoes off and handed the man a five-rupee note before entering the Jama Masjid mosque, I could feel the heat from the red stone against my heels. I could also feel the intense stares of the Delhi locals. I don’t know which made me s...
Published: 12/14/17
Local craft beer of the week: Big Storm’s Lightning Twenty Five Craft Lager

Local craft beer of the week: Big Storm’s Lightning Twenty Five Craft Lager

The Tampa Bay Lightning is off to its best start in franchise history, racking up NHL highs in wins and points in their 25th anniversary season.That calls for a toast.And Odessa’s Big Storm Brewing has just the beer. Turns out, the brewery picked a g...
Published: 12/14/17
Why is eggnog a holiday tradition? Exploring fresh renditions of the classic drink

Why is eggnog a holiday tradition? Exploring fresh renditions of the classic drink

Eggnog dates back to medieval times when the British enjoyed a drink called "posset" that was made with hot milk, ale and spices. Later it became a drink for the wealthy who added expensive brandy or sherry. It was the alcohol that kept the milk from...
Published: 12/14/17