Jul 30, 2008

Grilled Pizza for Monthly Mingle's Grill It!

Summer is a great time for grilled pizza. Why heat up the house when you can fire up the grill? Grilling pizza is easy and fun once you understand some basic concepts.

At its most basic, grilling pizza is a three step process:
1. Grill first side of pizza
2. Remove pizza, flip, add toppings to already grilled side.
3. Return pizza to grill to continue cooking.

Important to keep in mind:

*Have a clean grill*
Unlike baking a pizza in the oven, your dough will most likely sit directly on the grill grate. That's part of what gives it that grilled flavor. No one wants to get an old charred bit of burger on the bottom of their slice of pizza. If you prefer, you can use a pizza stone or additional grill grate with smaller openings on your grill.

*Pre-cook common pizza toppings*
When grilling a pizza, the heat is mainly from the bottom. Though you close the lid, it's not quite the same as baking in an oven. Raw meats, for example, will not thoroughly cook. Even veggies will remain pretty "raw" unless you at least partially cook them first.

*Use a gentle hand when topping your grilled pizza*
A layer of cheese half an inch thick will not melt and brown to a bubble ooze before the bottom of the crust burns. Consider a grilled pizza as a thinner, lighter variation on a theme. Use less of all the toppings, including tomato sauce. A lighter topped pizza is also easier to handle.

*Enjoy your mistakes*
Grilling pizza is easy but still requires a bit more technique than simply sliding a frozen pizza or even a homemade pizza into the oven. Toppings might fall off, crusts might get bent or too dark in spots or stick. Hey, these are all great reasons to try again and again and again. Recruit your friends and family to make it easier and more fun.

I'm entering this recipe in the Monthly Mingle, a blog event started by Meeta at What's For Lunch, Honey?. This month's event is hosted by Sig at Live To Eat and the theme is Grill It!.So let's grill a pizza.

* Set up all of your prepared toppings near the grill, preferably on a surface that can also fit the peel. You will be dressing your pizza right on the peel.
* Pre-heat your clean grill on medium heat. Patience, grasshoppers. Low and slow gives you more control.
* Oil the grill. Please be careful. Using a pair of tongs, grab a folded up kitchen cloth or paper towels. Dip liberally in olive oil and wipe the grill grates.
* Now the dough. Feel free to use store bought dough but it's easy to make your own. There are plenty of pizza dough recipes out there so choose the one you like. At the bottom of this post I've included my mom's recipe, the one I've used for this pizza.
* Get the dough on the grill. The easiest way to do this is with a pizza peel. Dust the peel with cornmeal or polenta and use this as your work surface to shape your crust. Any shape is fine. Then slide that pizza right off the peel onto the oiled grill. Sooooooooo smooth. A dusted cookie sheet works too. If the cookie sheet has a lip all the way around, simply flip it over.* Cook first side with the lid closed until golden with grill marks. Keep an eye on it.* Remove crust from grill. In one smooth move, gently take hold of the crust with the tongs and pull it onto your peel as you gently slide the peel under the crust.
* Top your pizza. With the peel sitting flat on your work surface, flip the crust over and brush the cooked side with olive oil. Top with your favorite goodies.Roasted eggplant
Sauteed onions and mushroomsRoasted red and yellow bell peppersAnchovies and marinated mozzarella fresca (plus shredded parm and mozzarella)
* Re-oil the grill. I neglected this once and my crust stuck enough for me to bother to suggest that you re-oil.
* Cook your pizza. Return the topped pizza to the grill, close the lid and cook until the cheese melts or the bottom is browned to your liking. Again, check it every few minutes. It's a great idea to rotate the pizza once or twice because every grill has a hot spot.* Remove your fabulously grilled pizza, tear up some fresh basil all over it, slice and eat!The more often you grill pizza, the more comfortable you become working with the ingredients and the method. So practice. More practice makes more pizza! Soon you will be grilling pizzas for the whole neighborhood. Set up a couple of tables, string up some lights, play some music and you will have a grilled pizza cafe.Dough Recipe:

This is the dough my mom always makes when she makes pizza or savory stuffed breads. It's always delicious. Just a tiny bit sweet. Like me, my mom rarely measures ingredients or follows recipes. These amounts are really pretty close to how she makes the dough because I've watched her do it 100's of times and I've done it myself dozens of times.

4 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour (You can also replace some of the AP flour with whole wheat.)
1 packet active dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1 tsp sugar
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup olive oil
1 good squeeze of honey
1 rounded tsp salt

Measure flour into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center. Into the well add yeast, sugar, and warm water. Proof yeast several minutes, until it foams. In the meantime, combine milk, olive oil, salt, and honey in a microwave-safe container and heat for about 40 seconds. You don't want cold milk but you don't want hot milk. Plus, you need to dissolve the honey. Let this container sit in the microwave while the yeast proofs.

Once the yeast has proofed, gradually add milk mixture to the flour as you begin to combine the wet and dry ingredients with a spatula or wooden spoon or even your hand. Once reasonably incorporated, continue to knead right in the bowl or turn out onto a floured surface and knead. I usually don't knead the dough very long, about five minutes. If dough is sticky, gradually add more flour as you knead. It's better to have a sticky dough and add flour than try to add moisture to a dry dough.

Form the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly rub with olive oil and place right back in the mixing bowl, seam side down. Cover with plastic wrap, wax paper, or a damp kitchen towel and set someplace warm and free from drafts. The oven is a good place. I turn on the oven to the lowest temperature for a few minutes then shut off.

When the dough has doubled, divide it into however many portions you need. This recipe will make two normal-sized pizzas or four personal pizzas for hungry folks. I don't "punch" down the dough and wait for a second raise. I usually just gently handle it enough to shape each pizza. As I shape each pizza, I cover it, and it will continue to rise as I shape all the pizzas, ready my work space, and set up the grill.


Holler said...

Mmmmmm lovely! that looks utterly divine! Can I come to your house?

vb said...

Sure! Let's see, that's about 5,000 miles so I don't have to pre-heat my grill just yet. When you land in Seattle, call me.

Sig said...

I have always wanted to make grilled pizza! This is a real inspiration! Thank you so much for the entry! And always nice to meet a fellow seattle blogger :)

vb said...

sig, go ahead and give it a try. You will be happy you did. Thanks again for hosting the Mingle. It's alot of work and we participants really appreciate it!

Meeta K said...

Oh my!! a grilled pizza - that looks incredibly gorgeous! A perfect entry for the MM! Thank you!

Archana said...

looks so delicious. I just bought some ingredients for pizza. I will try this recipe, sometime this week and let you know how it came. Surely looks delicious.Also thanks for visiting my site and posting warm comments. I am also hosting a ONE DISH- Salad event. Thought you might be interested. You can check the rules at my site. - Archana

vb said...

meeta, it was purely luck that MM wanted grilled items. I discovered that after I made the pizza.

vb said...

Archana, I am planning on participating in the ONE DISH SALAD event. I just need an idea!

George Erdosh said...

Oh, yes, I have a similar recipes and it's great! And fun to do, too. Yours look nicer than mine, you must have perfected the technique.
I recommend anyone to try this recipes--not hard and very impressive.
George, Culinary Scientist
What Recipes Don't Tell You

vb said...


I'll be grilling again soon. The rain in Seattle is tapering off. Perfected? Hardly. The fun is in the practice!


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