Thursday, August 26, 2010

Grilled Pizza

The end of summer always leaves me with mixed emotions. I’m excited for fall, which is my very favorite season, and yet I never feel like I’ve gotten my fill of those only-in-the-summer things. I want more boating, more camping, more s’mores, more time by the pool, more popsicles, more long days, etc. And last night I discovered yet another item to add to this list: grilled pizza.

If there was ever a reason to curse my nasty procrastination habit it is the fact that I did not try this method of cooking pizza back in June when I first heard of it. The idea was always in the back of my mind, but somehow it wasn’t until this week that I actually got my butt in gear and threw some pizza dough on the grill. All I can say is that if I hadn’t been such a slacker, this pizza would have been a weekly summer staple. It is that good.

For those of you thinking “it’s just pizza made on a barbecue instead of an oven–how is that anything special?” trust me when I say that the flavor produced by this method is out of this world. Mike even claimed that it tasted exactly like the pizza at our favorite Italian-style pizzeria. I wouldn’t go that far, but I’m thinking that if you love the taste of pizza made in a wood-burning oven, this is the closest you’re going to come to recreating that sensation at home (unless you do in fact have a wood-burning pizza oven in your home).

So friends, this is your chance to learn from my mistakes. Don’t let these last barbecue-friendly weeks of summer go by without trying this at least once.

Grilled Pizza

The recipe for this pizza dough was given to me by my good friend Megan. I love it because it is very basic, requires no rising time, and is virtually impossible to screw up. Feel free to use any pizza dough that you love, though. Just make sure that it is homemade or good quality storebought, as a co-worker once told me that she tried to grill Pillsbury dough from a can and the results were disastrous.

1 packet active dry yeast (2 ¼ teaspoons)
1 cup warm water*
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1) Dissolve yeast in warm water. Add sugar.
2) Add water mixture to flour, salt, and olive oil.
3) Stir together until a dough forms.
4) Knead the dough for a couple of minutes (or use the dough hook attachment if you have a KitchenAid).
5) Let the dough rest for five minutes. It should be fairly smooth and elastic.
*You want the water to be just barely warmer than lukewarm. Hot water will kill the yeast and turn your dough into a sticky mess.

Grilling Instructions:
OK, so these instructions aren’t going to be super specific and detailed because I mostly just fiddled around with the grill and didn’t pay too much attention to cooking times and all that. I’m thinking that instructions will probably vary based on the type of grill you have and how thick your dough is anyway so I’m just going to give a general idea of how I went about it.

1) Preheat a grill to medium-high heat.
2) Roll out pizza dough to desired thickness (I like mine really thin).
3) Lightly oil grill (I use a paper towel dipped in olive oil) and place pizza dough on it.
4) When that side is cooked (should only take two minutes or so) remove it from the grill using tongs or a spatula and place pizza on a plate uncooked side-down.
5) Turn the grill down to medium.
6) Top the pizza with toppings of your choice. For the pizza above, I brushed the crust with a little olive oil, then topped it with thin tomato slices, torn basil leaves, and fresh mozzarella.
7) Slide pizza back onto the grill and close cover.
8) Cook until cheese is melted and the bottom crust is nicely browned. (Mine took about five or ten minutes). Adjust the heat on your grill if you need to, since you don't want the dough cooking before the cheese melts. But if that does happen, just take the pizza off the grill and throw it under the broiler for a minute or two.

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