So I’ll just let you know right up front that this post is not about the attainment of the perfect pizza, made at home… it’s about my constant struggles. To rip off Oprah, I know this to be true: to get perfect pizza, the kind I want, I need to build a wood-fired oven in my backyard. And that ain’t happening.
Anyway, last night we made pizza on the grill. I’ve mentioned I live in Texas, and it’s already hotter than a firecracker down here. Plus we’ve been suffering some insane winds lately, and I’m pretty sure my husband thought I was going to set our house on fire with the grill. There was one tense moment when a gust of wind sent my tongs flying and the grill rotating on the patio…but the upside of making pizza on the grill is that we didn’t heat the house up intolerably.
I made a crust from a lovely cookbook called “The Italian Grill: Fresh Ideas to Fire Up Your Outdoor Cooking” by Micol Negrin. I like this recipe because it’s made in the food processor and because it doesn’t take multiple days. It also makes 4 individual serving crusts, which we can decorate to our hearts’ content.
The key to the grilled pizza is that you pre-cook one side, then load your toppings. I find it fascinating that the crust doesn’t drip down into the grill – but instead the dough pulls into itself and bubbles like a fluffy cloud. It’s fun and pretty cool. And your grill can get so nice and hot – hotter than an oven – and by rotating the crust a bit you can get just the right grilled finish on the bottom of your crust.
For our main course pizzas we used sliced up grape tomatoes, slivered some pecarino romano, used fresh mozzerella and prosciutto… and then I topped one of the other crusts with Asian pear, gorgonzola and honey. Oh. Honey. That dessert pizza was awesome. I couldn’t get enough of it!
3 1/2 cups of Bread Flour
1 teaspoon instant-rise yeast
2 teaspoons of salt (I prefer sea or kosher salt)
1 1/4 cups of warm (110F) water
4 tablespoons of olive oil
Add dry ingredients to food processor and pulse to combine, then slowly add warm water until the crust forms a ball, climbing the blade. Process for about 45 seconds and then remove from processor – dough should be smooth and supple – add more or less water as needed to achieve this texture. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to a large bowl, and roll the ball of dough in the olive oil to coat. Cover with plastic wrap for 1 hour and let rise until double in size.
Once the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and divide it into 4 balls. Let rest, covered with a towel, for 15 minutes. This relaxes the gluten in the crust.
Heat your grill up to 450-500F. Make sure the grates are clean, and I even use a paper towel with olive oil and tongs to oil the grates a bit.
Roll the crusts out with a rolling pin (I use my hands) on your lightly floured surface. Using the remaining olive oil, brush one side of the crust, and then apply the crust, oil side down, to the grill. Cook for 1-2 minutes – my grill actually takes longer, but I rotate the crust with tongs to make sure it cooks evenly.
Remove the crust, and coat the uncooked side with oil, and turn it down. Place your toppings on the cooked side – and remember, for a crispier crust, use fewer ingredients. Sauce and cheese can make the crust gooier. Place the topped crust back on the grill for 2-4 minutes or as long as it takes for the cheese to melt.