peel is the uniquely-shaped wooden
implement used to put a pizza into the oven, and to take it out. (Occasionally called a pizza shovel) It resembles a giant spatula
, with a wide handle
. It's usually about 14 inches wide, and 16 inches long. It is a very specialized utensil
Using a pizza peel:
Make sure, before you put your pizza onto it, to lightly dust the peel with cornmeal. This prevents the pizza from sticking to the peel, and makes it slide off easily when putting it into the oven. Then, after you've managed to flatten your pizza dough out, put it on the peel, and assemble the pizza right there on the peel.
After assembly, you're ready to put the pizza into the oven. Make sure when transferring the pizza that you don't tilt the peel - with the proper amount of cornmeal, it can slide off rather easily.
Put the tip of the peel on the far end of the baking stone or other baking surface. Tilt the peel to a 20 degree angle (the handle being at the top), and make a number of short, gentle thrusts to slide the edge of the pizza to the stone. Then, move the peel back as the pizza slides off. Yes, this does usually take a little practice to do well.
Retrieving a finished pizza is usually easier, just one quick thrust under the pizza should bring it right back up onto the peel.
To clean, simply wipe off with a damp cloth or sponge after use - don't immerse it in water.