Brick Oven Cooking: Grilling Basics

Watching a chef in a restaurant in Sorrento, I was surprised to see an assistant take a large pile of coals out of a pizza oven using a steel peel, and put them into a BBQ grill, and start cooking a mixed grill of steak, chicken, pork loin and sausages. After thinking about it for a minute, it make perfect sense. A pizza oven is a great source of true wood coals for grilling.

There are two ways of grilling with a brick oven. For most owners, the brick oven itself makes a great grill. By raking a layer of hot coals over the cooking hearth at the front of your oven, and sliding a free standing steel grill into the oven, you can enjoying grilling that sets seared grill marks, and seals in moisture for food that is crisp and not dried out. With heat from the grill itself, from the coals and radiating from above, the brick oven is a great BBQ.

Still, there are some limitations. The size of the grill is limited to the opening of your oven -- typically between 17" and 20. So that although they are quite deep, they still do not give you the real estate of a standard Weber.

Also, if you are doing a lot of other things in your oven, such as pizzas and vegetables, there might just not be time or space for grilling. If this is the case, or if you need more real-estate, use your brick oven to create wood coals for you. Nothing tastes better than food cooked over real wood, and your brick oven is an efficient source of coals.

That is why many Italian brick ovens include an attached open grill, which can be used either with its own fire, or with coals from the brick oven.

A traditional side grill.

Tuscan grill.