Summer comes with so many options to entertain outdoors. From grilling to pool parties, opportunities seem endless to have a great time with great company in a great summery environment. As much as I aspire to build a pizza oven in my backyard, it is still in a planning process. So what’s the best course of action to come as close as possible to making pizza properly without having an oven going at 500 degrees indoors in this heat? Take it outside – on the grill!
If you have never tried your hand at making pizza on a grill, out of scratch, you are totally missing out. All you really need to perfect this delight is a really good dough (it’s best if you can make it yourself, but you can definitely pick some up at a local pizza place or even a refrigerated version in a grocery store), a handful of topping ingredients (you can get as creative as you would like here), and most importantly heat. Also, if you happen to have a pizza stone on hand, that is a big plus. If not, I would invest in one as it can be a life-changing gadget in every pizza lovers kitchen. It is a ceramic/stone slab that serves as an oven and grill-safe baking surface. On a gas grill it has this incredible ability to imitate the bottom of a wood-burning stove by dispersing heat evenly, absorbing moisture from the dough, and minimizing hot spots, resulting in the bubbly, crisp, and churred crust almost as if it came out of my dream wood-burning brick pizza oven (that is in my backyard;)).
Alright, so here’s how I go about grilling pizza:
First things first, it is good to have all the desired toppings ready in advance as the grilling process will take a matter of minutes. In my experience, the simplest but quality ingredients that work well together make the best-grilled pies, so here are some ideas:
Tomato sauce – When it comes to grilling, I like to use freshly crushed heirlooms with good quality Extra virgin olive oil, salt, freshly ground pepper, chopped fresh oregano from my garden, and a bit of cayenne pepper for some heat:))
Variety of cheeses – I always say this but end up using fresh Mozzarella… Every. Single. Time
Fresh herbs – Basil is king (green and purple), thyme, oregano, etc.
Meat – Prosciutto, baby! Sausage (not my style), etc.
All sorts of veggies (leafy and not) and shrooms (meat of the veggies:))
Now here’s how we do it:
1. First, place your stone on a cold grill, close the top, and preheat the grill/stone on medium flame to impart smokiness and char in a finished product.
2. Stretch out the dough using as little flour as possible until it is about 13-inches round. (Quick tip: The dough should rest at list 4 hours to allow the gluten to relax. Otherwise, it will be difficult to stretch and will create a tough crust).
3. Scatter the pizza peel with cornmeal. ( This will prevent your pizza from sticking. Also, if you don’t have a pizza peel, you can do it directly on the preheated stone – be cautious though, it could burn).
4. Place the dough on top of the cornmeal. Spread the sauce evenly over the surface of the dough, leaving a little room for the crust. Don’t overdo the sauce.
5. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the sauce. ( At this point, depending on the toppings of your choosing, you could add them but wouldn’t want to overdo it. I usually garnish with toppings after the pie is done to give that extra summery flare and so it doesn’t get soggy)
6. Once both your grill and stone is nice and hot, slide the pizza directly from the peel onto the stone, and bake roughly 7-8 minutes.
7. Once done, remove from the grill, garnish/add toppings, cut, and serve immediately.
Pizza, in general, offers a wide variety of textures and tastes given the various options of toppings and sauces. The most recent grilled pizza I made, I used above mentioned crushed heirloom tomato sauce, sliced fresh Mozzarella cheese, Prosciutto, Extra virgin olive oil, and arugula. The sweetness of the tomatoes complements the red berry fruit impression in wine such as Pinot Noir. The peppery character of the arugula creates a bridge to the herbal notes of Tuscan reds. Personally, I adored a glass of Hyppolite Reverdy Sancerre Rouge 2016 with my grilled pizza. It was a very charming match, as this wine has rustic qualities to it with notes of red cherries and savory spices.
I hope you try to get grillin’ as soon as the heat eases up a bit in B-more! Come see me here at the shop and let me know how it all worked out!