Although pizza is originally from Italy, for many pizza lovers the true home of pizza is the USA. Italians may have invented it, but Americans built pizza into what it is today.
For people looking for an authentic slice of real American pizza, then there is no better choice than a coal fired pizza. But, what is coal fired pizza?
Why It Is Done?
When most people think of a traditional pizza, they think of a wood fired pizza. In Italy, this is how traditional pizza is made. But in America, most pizzas were originally made with the more easily found coal ovens. So traditional American pizzas owe their heritage to coal, not wood.
A coal fired pizza is a pizza that has been cooked in a brick oven that has been heated by coal. The coals heat the oven to super-high temperatures, hotter even than a wood fired oven.
These hot temperatures give your pizza a crispy texture and a gorgeous char that makes for mouth-watering bites of gooey pizza goodness.
How to Make Coal Fired Pizza
The cooking process begins with a traditional brick oven. The oven is then brought up to heat, nearly 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, by making a coal fire in the oven.
The bricks will soak up the heat until the oven itself becomes the heat source, not the coals. At this point, the oven is ready, so the coals are pushed to the sides of the oven to prepare a cooking space.
When you cook the pizza, it is laid down directly on the hot bricks. It is cooked by the heat coming directly from the bricks and from the hot air currents that have turned this space into a convection oven.
At these high temperatures, the pizza cooks extremely quickly, often in less than five minutes. When the pizza is done, it will come out charred and crisp on the outside but still deliciously soft in the middle.
Is It Safe?
It’s no secret that coal is a pollutant that is often in the news for its “dirty” reputation. However, when you cook with coal, you don’t use the same kind of coal as when you are powering a power plant. When you are cooking a pizza, you will use high-grade anthracite coal.
Anthracite coal has few impurities and burns far cleaner than other lower grades of coal that can be used in energy production. The bottom line is that high-grade anthracite coal is perfectly safe for cooking. It burns hot and clean, so you don’t have to feel guilty when you indulge in a perfect pizza pie.
What Does Coal Fired Pizza Taste Like?
Compared to your average pizza made in a conventional gas or electric oven, a coal fired pizza is better by orders of magnitude. Where the relatively low-temperature ovens give you a pizza that is soggy and somewhat tasteless, a coal fired oven gives pizzas a charred taste that enhances the pizza’s own flavors.
As well, since the brick oven burns hot, the toppings will become crisp while still retaining a firmness that really lets these ingredients shine on their own. This means that when you put quality ingredients on your pizza, you will be able to actually enjoy them.
Coal or Wood?
Honestly, an argument could be made for either of these cooking styles. Both of them are beloved by pizza aficionados, and both work in similar ways. Where a wood-fired oven gives a smokier taste to a pizza, a coal fired oven gives more of a char.
Both are excellent choices, and which is best will probably come down to your taste preferences. But, generally, the choice comes down to two things: taste and tradition.
A coal fired pizza just tastes better. It has a crispiness that you can’t get with any other cooking method. A pizza cooked with coal is also an important part of pizza history. These coal ovens helped bring this now iconic food to America’s shores and popularized it.
So for many people, trying a pizza cooked this way is a part of understanding how their favorite food came to be where it is now. That’s not to say that there’s not a lot of history with wood, because there is. Wood also lends interesting flavor profiles via smoke–so in the end, you have to make the decision.
For a true pizza lover, there are few things better than a traditionally made slice of American-style pizza. If you want to experience this slice of American history the way it was originally made, then you need to try it fresh out of a coal fired oven.
My family’s pizza tradition began in 1957. We were the only pizza place in our small town. Most of the people back then didn’t even know what pizza was. One woman asked if she could try whatever it was that people were taking out in the flat whit boxes. My family’s pizza recipe was started in Sicily in the late 1800’s. We never used either a coal or wood fired oven. We could bake a pizza in 4 minutes & we didn’t have to stand in front of the oven & keep turning the pizza, one turn was all. Our pizza was never soggy. Our hand made crust was crispy on the outside & light & full of it’s own flavor, which added to the taste of the whole pizza.
Today, there are 13 or 14 “pizza-in-a-can” pizza shops in our little town, population 12,000. Now, I am the last one of our pizza family, I am 70 & I can’t do the physical part of running the business. Still today, if you ask people what was the best pizza, they will start raving about our pizza.
Sorry if I took up too much time because I don’t need an oven. It’s not the same with so much gone & we old people just need to speak, every once in a while, to people who might understand.
Grazie mille, A Dio di benedica ! Ciao…