Thursday, September 18, 2008
Pizza On the Grill
Let me assure you that pizza on the grill is not an urban legend. You can do it at home. No, it doesn’t fall through or stick to the grate. I have prepared it on both a charcoal grill and a gas grill successfully.
When making grilled pizza there are three important things to remember:
1) The grill must be very hot
2) Olive Oil is your friend
3) Toppings go on in the reverse order from oven baking
Lighting the grill-
For a charcoal grill, you need a high concentration of coals on one side and only a few coals on the opposite side. This will result in a hotter and cooler side of the grill. Once the coals are ready put the lid on the grill to keep it as hot as possible. For a gas grill, light it and close the lid. Aim for a temperature around 500 degrees.
Get your toppings ready. Anything goes here. You’ll be making several mini pizzas so try something different on each one. Balsamic Carmelized Onions (see recipe below) are terrific on pizza with some fresh mozzarella and rosemary. I also like to throw handfuls of fresh herbs on the coals for extra flavor. If you like your vegetables soft you can pre-cook them or throw of few right on the grill grate.
Start with a good pizza dough, not that frozen stuff. If you don’t have a good recipe, try mine (see recipe below). Let it rise for 50 minutes to 1 hour.
After the dough has risen, punch it down and let it rest for 5 minutes. Grab some Extra Virgin Olive Oil and a large dinner plate while you’re waiting.
Make several personal size pizzas, about six inches in diameter. Roll the dough with a pastry roller or just keep pushing out with your fingers.
Pour about ½ cup of olive oil on to the dinner plate and coat each pizza crust liberally. Make sure the entire pizza is bathed in the oil or it will stick and burn. Trust me on this you can’t put too much olive oil on the pizzas. Stack the oiled pizzas on a tray and take them out to the grill.
Ready for grilling!
Place one or two oiled pizza crusts on the hottest part of the grill. Watch them carefully! After about a minute the bottom of the crust will begin to bubble. Flip it over cook the other side. It may take less than a minute for the second side.
When both sides are finished, move the crust to the higher or cooler part of the grill. Add your toppings. Cheese goes on first so it will melt, then veggies and sauce. Once your toppings are on you can put one or two more pizza crusts on the hottest part of the grill. After your first few pizzas you may need to put the lid on the empty grill to bring the temperature back up. Watch everything closely and move quickly. Timing is important since everything cooks so quickly.
Practice makes perfect, so don’t worry if you burn a few. Once you try this once or twice you may find tricks that work for you. I like to add three bricks to the cooler side of my Weber kettle charcoal grill as it’s heating up. I can put the pizza crusts on the bricks until the toppings melt, and there is little chance of the pizza burning. A great idea is to make more pizza crusts than you can use and freeze a few. Add some toppings, bake for a bit and you’ll have something much tastier than Totino’s can put in a box.
Carmelized Balsamic Onions
4 large onions
4 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
Slice the onions into rings and separate.
Take your largest, heavy, non-stick frying pan and heat it on med heat for about 3 minutes. Turn the heat to med/low
Place all the onions in the pan and drizzle with the Balsamic Vinegar. Do not cover the pan. Every 8 to 10 minutes toss the onions to coat them with the vinegar.
It may take an hour for the onion to soften and carmelize – don’t rush it.
Makes 1- 14 inch regular crust or 1- 10 or 12 inch thick crust
1 pkg. active dry yeast
1 tsp. sugar
1 cup warm water (approx. 110 degrees)
2 ½ cups flour
½ tsp. Salt
1 tbsp. Extra virgin olive oil
extra olive oil for bowl and cornmeal to prepare pizza pan
Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and let stand until it foams, about 10 minutes.
In a food processor, bread machine or by hand, combine flour, salt, and 1 tsp olive oil. Slowly mix in yeast mixture and knead.
Coat the interior of a large mixing bowl with some olive oil. Bowl should be thoroughly coated but no olive oil should be left to pool in the bottom of the bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. (Saran Wrap Quick Covers are terrific for this!) Put bowl in a warm place and let rise for 50 minutes to 1 hr.
Roll crust out on lightly floured surface or hand toss if you’re talented. J
Lightly grease pizza pan with olive oil and sprinkle with cornmeal. Place crust on pan. Top with sauce, veggies and cheese. Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. (You may bake the crust for about 5 minutes before adding toppings, then for about 8 minutes more. This gives you a higher, crisper crust.)