Making Pizzas in the Shokunin Kamado Grill
The Shokunin Kamado Grill is incredibly versatile. Use it to smoke, roast, bake and grill with a flavorful charcoal and wood fire. One of our favorite things to cook in the Shokunin is pizza. Because of the amazing efficiency of the Shokunin’s insulated design, it is easy to maintain a 750°F baking temperature for hours at a time. At this temperature, you can make a perfect pizza in just three minutes.
This simple guide to baking pizzas in Kalamazoo’s kamado grill will walk you through the tools, steps and techniques needed for a successful artisan pizza night at home.
This two-piece baking deck creates an air gap for more gentle heat.
THE TOOLS YOU’LL NEED
The most important tool you’ll need is a hollow-core baking deck or pizza stone. The cordierite two-piece deck from PizzaCraft is ideal for balancing the heat and preventing the bottom of the pizza from cooking too quickly. Make sure your pizza stone is no more than 16 inches in diameter.
If your pizza stone is solid, without an air gap, you can use an aluminum pizza screen between the pizza and the stone to slow down the cooking.
A perforated pizza peel, like the one included in Kalamazoo’s Pizza Master’s Essentials Kit (PMEK), is very helpful in transferring the assembled pizza into the grill. A wooden pizza peel, or even a thin cutting board can also be used. The PMEK also includes a pair of dough boxes that are helpful when resting the dough prior to shaping the crust.
Once the pizza has cooked, you can lift it out of the grill with a large grill turner or spatula, or you can use a pizza peel.
Pizza cooking with a pizza screen on top of the stone.
To start the fire quickly, you’ll want a charcoal chimney starter. A propane plumber’s torch is also handy for getting the fire going. We recommend the Benzomatic TS8000 trigger head for the Shokunin as well as the Kalamazoo Gravity-Fed Charcoal Smoker.
A chimney starter gets the charcoal started quickly with no chemicals.
SETTING UP THE GRILL
Configure your grill with the fire grate placed in the highest of the three positions. Because of the tapered interior shape of the Shokunin, you’ll want to slide each part of the two-piece adjustable fire grate to the outside (far left and far right) of the grill. Pile a little hardwood lump charcoal in each of the four corners of the grill.
Open all four vents (two supply vents in the base of the grill and two exhaust vents in the lid) to the wide-open positions.
Starting the Fire
Fill the chimney starter with more lump charcoal. We typically use a paper grocery sack to start the chimney, but you can also use paraffin fire starters. To use paper, loosely wad it up and put it inside the bottom of the chimney starter. Place the chimney starter in the center of the fire grate, then use the plumber’s torch to light the paper on fire. Leave the grill lid open and the cooking grates flipped up out of the way while the charcoal starts, about 15 minutes.
Once the fire has travelled all the way up the chimney and the coals at the top are burning, it is time to distribute them in the grill. Use long, protective gloves to pour the burning coals out of the chimney starter and onto the unlit charcoal that was positioned earlier. You want to keep all of the charcoal positioned toward the corners of the fire grate so that the heat envelopes the pizza and reflects down from the inner curvature of the lid.
Once the charcoal is distributed, you can add wood chunks or small wood splits on top of the charcoal. The wood will boost the heat and add subtle wood flavor to the pizza. (Unlike a wood-fired pizza oven, where the fire is next to the pizza and the smoke travels out the chimney, the fire in the Shokunin is below the pizza so the flavor is noticeable.)
Now you can lower the cooking grates into position and place the pizza stone in the center of the cooking grate.
Close the lid and preheat the grill to 750°F, about an hour of preheating time.
COOKING THE PIZZA
Assemble your pizza on the countertop, then transfer to the pizza stone using a pizza peel (see tips that follow). Close the lid and start a three-minute timer. The pizza will cook evenly from all sides and does not need to be rotated in the Shokunin. With a hollow-core pizza stone, the pizza will cook untouched for three minutes.
With a solid stone, check the pizza after one minute. If the crust has “set” and the pizza is easily moved, gently lift it off the stone and slide a pizza screen into position. Close the lid and continue cooking for the remaining two minutes.
Remove the pizza when done and let rest for a minute before slicing.
PIZZA MAKING TIPS
Because we are cooking pizzas quickly at a high temperature, use a pizza dough made in whole or in part with Tipo ‘00 flour. This is the flour used in traditional Neapolitan pizzas. Our Artisan Fire Pizza Dough recipe is perfect for cooking in the Shokunin.
Pizza dough needs to relax before stretching, and ideally needs to come up to room temperature. We recommend keeping dough balls in the dough box at room temperature for three to four hours before making pizza. A seven to ten ounce dough ball size is good for working with a 14-inch diameter pizza stone.
When forming the pizza, be gentle with the dough. You want to avoid “bruising” it and creating areas that can’t form air pockets inside as the crust bakes. We form our pizzas by hand rather than using a rolling pin. The dough can be formed to a flat disc. There is no need to form it with a raised crust around the outside. The heat of the grill will do that for you.
The first two minutes of this pizza making video includes tips for stretching the dough and getting the assembled pizza onto the pizza peel.
Our Favorite Pizza Recipes
These recipes are all written for the Artisan Fire Pizza Oven, but are easily cooked in the Shokunin following the directions above. Browse the full collection of pizza recipes in the recipes section of our website. Below are some of our favorites: