There's just something organic and pure about cooking outdoors. Arguably most BBQs aren't particularly natural garden fixtures aesthetically, but we have an outdoor cooking appliance that definitely is. It's called the La Hacienda Clay Pizza Chimenea and it brings comforting warmth and speedy cooking to your garden.
The La Hacienda Clay Pizza Chimenea is able to cook pizzas, via a supplied 23cm pizza stone, and it can also BBQ with a supplied grill rack. It's smaller than many other chimeneas on the market, but because of this it carries a discreet footprint in smaller outdoor areas. The chimenea is quite heavy, weighing roughly 12kg, but moving it around is easily achieved with two people. We like the fact that it has some substantial weight because it means it stands solid in windy conditions. Made by hand, this chimenea hasn't shown any cracks within the clay body from our usage and the design regulates the heat very efficiently, but works best in sheltered environments. We'd describe the appearance of ours as being slightly vintage with its weather-worn look, making it a very attractive and apt garden ornament that matures every time we light it. The steel stand ensures a sturdy balance that can be used on patios, raised outdoor areas and even grass environments. During the winter you may wish to take the chimenea indoors to protect it, however if you don't have the space a weatherproof cover can be purchased separately and a rain lid is supplied with the chimenea.
Starting The Fire
You don't want a raging fire inside the chimenea when cooking a pizza. Simply start by lighting some kindling and then place some split logs to keep a sustained fire. Initially the fire may be enthusiastically high, so wait for it to die down a bit until the flames are just licking the pizza stone. This will allow time for the clay body and pizza stone to gain enough heat to cook a pizza. With a pizza paddle/peeler carefully place the pizza onto the stone. You can optionally take the top half of the chimenea off and place the pizza on the stone, but we managed to remove and insert the pizza easily and conveniently using a paddle/peeler through the front entrance. Lots of ventilation surrounds the stone and the overall design is effective in directing smoke up the chimney and not out the front. One major and very obvious tip is to make the pizza within the dimensions of the stone, something we failed to do initially!
Our homemade thin and thick crust pizzas cooked very quickly within the La Hacienda Clay Pizza Chimenea; there wasn't time to take our eyes off them. Within four to six minutes we had evenly cooked pizzas, which tasted refreshingly different to those baked within a conventional oven. The pizza infused the flavour of the wood we used, resulting in a slightly smokey freshness in taste.
If you experiment by burning different types of wood you can adjust the sweetness, nuttiness, etc of the infused smokey flavour considerably. Barbecuing is achieved via removing the top half of the chimenea, lighting charcoal and including the grill plate. So this means we have a hybrid garden cooking appliance that serves as a nice family sized BBQ too.
When holding a social gathering in the garden this chimenea really shines in an aspect that isn't cooking. The heat that's produced is enough to keep everyone in close proximity warm, especially during summer nights. Coupled with the aroma of baking pizza and crackling orange glowing logs, it creates a pleasant and cosy visual and sensual ambience in the garden that you and friends can happily gather around whilst enjoying the excellent cooked food.
As an outdoor cooking solution the La Hacienda Clay Pizza Chimenea is far beyond a novelty product. It's very practical, in that it cooks quickly and effectively heats the area around it at the same time. We have really enjoyed using this charming outdoor item and have cooked up lots of tasty homemade pizzas.