Serious Eats: Talk
Whenever I fire the pizza oven with wood, I start a large fire, let it get hot to where the wood is forming hot coals, and then push them back to the side or back of the oven -- all with the door open. This has worked well time and time again. Saturday, I did just that, made about 8 pizzas and then put in a large cast iron pot of pre-soaked beans and shut the door. About 2 hours later, I took the beans out and placed in about 5 or 6 pieces of wood I had split about 6 months ago -- so not fully seasoned -- in order to further dry them out and have them ready for the next use of the oven. I then put the door on again. A few hours later, there was copious smoke coming out of the chimney of the oven. I opened it up to find the logs I had wanted to dry out actually cooking, half black and on their way to being coals. I took two logs out to stop them from completely burning up and the remaining wood ignited, forming the hottest fire I have seen to date in the pizza oven. It was really an inferno. The two logs I had taken out were still smoking and basically a hazard wherever I put them so I tossed them in and they instantly ignited. Again, the pizza oven has always gotten hot enough for great pizza cooking, but this really impressed me as hotter than usual. When the fire finally went out, it was still over 700 degrees (by oven thermometer, not laser thermometer). The next morning (with door shut all night) it was still almost 300 degrees. I had thought about slow cooking a brisket (or some other meat) overnight as I often do but decided that it would be too hot to actually slow cook.
Anyway, my question with all of this is whether I should be closing the door at some stage in the pre-heat to get the oven at hot as possible. I know that putting on the door should extinguish the flame which is not desirable when firing the oven. But somehow it seemed to work on this occasion.
Any thoughts or similar experiences?