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Pizza ovens make the world’s greatest hangis, a NorthTec class discovered when they made their own oven from natural materials.
The group of 17 Sustainable Rural Development (level 3) students spent a day building their outdoor oven at NorthTec’s Dyer Street campus in Whangarei, under the watchful eye of tutor, Grant Steven, as part of their Natural Building paper.
Using clay, sand, lime and cement and hundreds of empty beer bottles, plus timber for the base, the group built up their structure and then fitted unglazed terracotta tiles to the inside of the oven, with Mr Steven explaining that glazed tiles would release toxins.
He said: “Pizza ovens do make great pizza, but they can also be used for roasting, steaming and smoking food. As most of the heat in a pizza oven comes off the roof, they cook meat really well – it goes brown and crispy in the outside.
“They make fantastic hangi, using a metal basket and some wet sacking. You put the sacking on the bottom of the basket, put in your veggies and then put the meat on top. The meat cooks really well and all the juices drip down through the veggies, giving a great flavour.
“Pizza ovens are very popular with Māori because they make the best hangi and because many Māori like cooking with fire. It’s also quicker, you just fire up the oven for a couple of hours and then cook for one and a half hours.”
He added that pizza ovens were also good for cooking bread loaves – up to 10 in one batch – and flat breads like takakau (Māori flat bread).
The group tested their oven out by cooking first pizzas and then hangi. Mr Steven said building a pizza oven was a very sociable exercise which brought people together, whether they were family, friends or a community.
NorthTec runs Sustainable Rural Development programmes at locations around Northland, many at community-based sites. The programme involves two days of contact and two days of self-directed study per week, over one semester. All level 2 and 3 Sustainable Rural Development programmes are fees-free to students of all ages. For more information contact NorthTec on 0800 162 100 or visit www.northtec.ac.nz.
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