Monday, May 31, 2010

Grilled Pizza

God, I can't get enough. I'll even start the Weber up in February and stand around, freezing, to get that burnt, grilled taste onto my pizza. Delicious.

I've been known to go the lazy route, however, when pizza night rolls 'round - TJ's fresh dough is delicious and vegan, and most of the time we just use that. For special occasions, however, I'll make it myself. The differences are subtle - it's lighter, puffier, chewier, takes the heat a bit better. Worth it, if you have the time - you'll find the recipe below.

This is an adaptation of two recipes - the NY Times pizza dough recipe, and Wolfgang Puck's everyday pizza dough. Basically, I added more olive oil, subbed bread flour for half of the all purpose flour (you need all the structural integrity you can get, else all your work and beautiful toppings'll end up as charcoal additives) and did a little more kneading, a tad less rising. In 1.5 hours start to finish, you'll have delectable, chewy dough ready for any topping you desire. Suggestions (for toppings) at the bottom.

The Dough
makes 4 single serve pie crusts or two larger crusts

1 pack active dry yeast (2 tsp)
1 cup warm tap water
1 teaspoon honey or sugar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1.5 cups bread flour
1.5 cups all purpose flour
1 tablespoon salt

Mix your yeast, sweetener, and water together in a small bowl. Let sit 5 minutes.

Mix your dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer (the smaller bowl will suffice). Use the paddle or beater attachments (if using the beaters, you'll have to clean them out with a fork before moving onto the dough hooks). Add the olive oil to your yeast water, and while your mixer is mixing, toss your liquids in. Mix your ingredients evenly, then switch to the dough hooks. Knead for about 8 minutes, until everything incorporates and balls up, pulling away from the sides of the bowl. Oil another bowl, plop that dough in there, and cover tightly. Set in a warm place and allow to rise for about 45 minutes.

While you're waiting, make some sauce, saute some mushrooms, grate some cheese, you know.

Take the dough out of the bowl and cut it either into quarters or halves. On a clean, un-floured surface, knead your ball gently for 2-3 minutes, pulling the exterior underneath and working it in, 6-7 times. Your dough will feel firm and elastic when finished. Place on a cookie sheet and repeat with the other pieces - cover with oiled plastic wrap and let rise another half hour.

When the dough has finished resting, generously dust a surface or large cutting board with flour. Grab a hunk of dough, stretch it slightly, then plop it in the flour. Turn over and do the same for the other side. Now pick the dough up and hold it, dangling, while moving constantly in a clockwise motion, letting gravity thin and stretch it out. You may need to stretch the center of your crust a little more forcefully. Rotate and stretch about 5 times, until the dough is thin and you can see light through it when you hold it up to a lamp or the window. If it's a bit thicker at the edges, that's just fine. Lay it out on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Do the same to your other crusts. Do not stack them on top of each other with layers of cling wrap, foil, or parchment paper in between - they'll stick terribly.

The Process

The best temperature at which to grill pizza crusts is about 5 minutes after you spread your hot coals out from their lighting-position-pyramid. The hotter, the better. You'll need a spatula and tongs, a brush and about 1/2 cup olive oil. Make sure you have the plate or pan space to move the crusts around as needed, since they'll be getting two doses of grill (one to grill one side, one to finish the other and melt your cheese).

Do either two smaller crusts or one large crust at a time, do not overcrowd. Brush the crusts with oil, generously, and with two fingers, grab the top of your crust. Flip it over and gently place it on the grill, quickly. Get it as close to the edge of your grill, and away from the hottest part, as possible. Do the same with the other crust and put the lid on the grill.

Wait a minute or two. At a minute in, you'll see the dough start to bubble.

Turn the crusts 180 degrees, to grill more evenly. Once you have a nice, toasty (even black in places) bottom, brush the top with oil, and flip them. Close the grill again. This time, only cook the crusts for about 30 seconds to a minute - just long enough to set the dough. Pull them off.

Top your pizzas on the finished (most cooked) side with your choice of cheeses and veggies (and in this case, fake 'roni and fakon).

With a large, wide spatula, set your pizzas on the grill once again, as close to the edge as possible. Close the grill and let 'em go until your cheese is somewhat melty. Watch the bottom - burnt is good, charred isn't. If you'd like, you can finish them in the oven with the broiler, but that's cheating!

Let pizza's sit for 3 minutes before slicing and noshing.

Grilling pizzas introduces a very strong burnt flavor to the palate, so you'll want to use strong toppings and cheeses. Honestly, a light, fresh mozz gets a little lost. Use some asiago, blue cheeses, brie, stronger flavors when topping your to-be-grilled-'zzas.

Here, we had some scapes that we brushed with oil and quick grilled. The tops ended up on our "Hawaiian" pie - accompanied by grilled pineapple and fake bacon, along with red sauce, mozzarella, and asiago. The other was simple - red sauce, mozz, fake pepperoni, and quick-sauteed mushrooms. Nom.


  1. I definitely have to try grilled pizza!1 you make it look so good!

  2. Thanks, Dennis! Watch out, it's addictive.