$100 Pizza Oven

$100-pizza-oven

I was hungry for pizza so I built a pizza oven, that makes sense right? As most of you might of gathered by now we like food an awful lot, especially baking and our, lets call it a “healthy” obsession takes up a good portion of our time. So when we heard the Melbourne Pizza Festival was coming to town we were sold on the idea. Mouth watering succulent pizza would be on offer and who are we to refuse, but sadly we only managed to get our mouths around just two slices and that just wasn’t quite enough to tame our wild stomachs. I’m not saying the festival or pizza wasn’t good, far from it, but unfortunetly for us they had failed to allow room for half of Melbourne to fit and so resulted in a very crowded venue, and a very hungry us. It was decided: we need a wood fired oven, but one that could be abandoned should the need arise due to our renting status, and it must be completed on a budget. Challenge accepted.

pizza-photo-stripThink of this as a first try; the pizza oven you build to hone your pizza oven building skills. If everything goes to plan over the next twelve months we will be moving on and buying our first home and a whole new oven will need to be built. 

The basics of an oven are somewhat simple, heat – in this instance from a fire and thermal mass – bricks and render (clay would have been a better for thermal mass but I’m lazy so render will do). The fire heats the oven and the bricks store the energy to be released and used to cook your pizza, bread, roast, whatever your appetite calls for. This oven was built with this in mind but on a budget, here we go…

Materials and Cost breakdown

5 Pallets – Donated
18 Cement paving stones – Had
180’ish Bricks (old clinkers) – Had
Chicken wire (about 2sqm) – Had
Chimney if required  – Had
Sand – $60 for 2/3 meter 
Lime – $10
Cement -$15

Total $85

With the fifteen dollars we had spare I’m going to buy a bottle of wine and christen her this weekend, results to come!

Instructions – The boring bit

The pictures are pretty self explanatory, I started with a base (pallets donated by a local builder) and then built up. I wanted to use some cement sheeting for insulation over the pallets but with the budget in mind I laid some old cement paving stones insteed, tightly layering them on the pallets. Then I mortared (MIX 4-1-1) in a line of bricks around the edge of the base and filled the centre with tightly packed sand. The sand was then covered with bricks that were persuaded into place with a mallet, the base is tightly packed but not set with mortar as it’s the baking surface.

Then I started laying my bricks, around and around leaving some room for an entry at the front. Using an old length of steel from our garden, I formed a lintel and set a terracotta arch on the lintel and continued to taper the brick dome inwards. From here I created a platform inside the dome and covered it with sand shaping the inside of the dome and giving the bricks something to rest on while being laid and then setting in place.

I added a length of chimney from the front of the dome, held in place with chicken wire which also helps to strengthen the structure. After a day I carefully removed the platform and shaping sand and then set to work rendering the facade, this not only looks nice but increases the thermal mass. The render is about the same mix as the mortar but with a little more lime for flexibility. Over the bricks I have a render layer then a sheet of chicken wire to aid with strength and topped with a smooth render layer. At its thickest point the oven would be almost twenty centimetres.
pizza
What could I have done different?
Well if money wasn’t an object, almost everything, but this amaizingly cheap project took me about six hours in total and came in under budget. I call success, now who’s for a slice of pizza?

Roo-Boar Sausage

spice

Like many Italians, my father immigrated with his family just after the second world war, they brought with them a wealth of knowledge and culinary skills that have helped to shape the flavours of food we enjoy today. But Italians have been calling Australia home since settlement and in the 1850’s gold rush came people from all over the world looking to strike it rich.

Many Swiss-Italian came to make their new home here during this time, bags bursting with dried spices, aromatic garlic and rich red wines, the flavours they loved so much. Daylesford, Victoria still holds an annual festival preserving their rich heritage. This recipe was known to the Italians  as salsiccia or sausages but it was the Australians of the day that gave this sausage, made of beef, pork, red wine and spices, its name – Bull-boar.
If you grew up in Tasmania then you will more than likely have tried or even made your own kangaroo patties, they’re much the same as a normal burger pattie but the Tasmanian kangaroo used have less of a gamey taste, a real treat if you get the chance to try them. But today I’m not making bull-boar sausages nor am I making kangaroo patties… I was recently given some freshly shot kangaroo meat from the apple isle and have opted to try a roo-pork hybrid inspired by a traditional Italian sausage recipe.
There are many variants to this recipe and I’m sure they are all good, this one’s fantastic! A great alternative to this is to cure these sausages into salami, If you are planning on this then five grams sodium nitrate per kilo of sausage filling.
mix1
1 natural sausage casing
1kg pork shoulder minced
1kg kangaroo minced
8 cloves garlic
1 nutmeg grated
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs ground pimento
1 tbs cayenne peper
1 bottle of red wine (full bodied)
25g salt
20g black pepper
Combine minced meat with dry ingredients and mix by hand for at least five minutes, mix in red wine and leave to sit overnight in fridge or some place cold. At this stage of making salami of sausages I always fry some of the mixture up for a taste test, delicious! The next day fill sausages, tie them off and let hang to dry for another day before packing for freezing or eating.
sausage1The mince can also be cooked in patties but I would advise against this, I ate a considerable portion during taste tests and resulted in less sausages and a very full stomach.