|Monday, April 30, 2012|
As the sun began its slow sink behind Portland’s West Hills, Derek Jensen pointed a laser — a high-tech infrared thermometer — inside the dome of his outdoor pizza oven, which was being licked by flames to 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. He’d just slipped his hand out of a welding glove, an uncommon party accessory that, tonight, meant the fun had already begun.
Jensen and his wife, Julie Gulla, were gathering some friends at their home for an Italian-themed celebration. They’d toast to summer evenings, fine wines, good company and, most important, the wood-fired oven that Jensen was managing with precision.
The previous fall, the couple joined the ranks of fanatical outdoor oven enthusiasts when they installed a Forno Bravo pizza oven outside, part of a dramatic backyard overhaul that created an elongated terrace geared for entertaining.
“I’d been making pizza in our kitchen for a long time and wanted to step it up to pro-style pizza,” Jensen explains. After a few frustrating, getting-to-know-the-pizza-oven-less-than-perfect pies, Jensen found solid advice online from a man known as Frankie G, the Internet guru of outdoor pizza ovens and cooking techniques (fgpizza.com).
Since then, Jensen has heated the oven with different kinds of wood and bought a long-handled metal “banjo” peel for sliding pizzas in and out of the oven. He also perfected his recipes for dough, which rises overnight in the couple’s climate-controlled wine cellar, and a simple tomato sauce.