Sunday, July 26, 2009

Grilled Pizza

With a little guidance from Tony Food, I tried something new this Saturday; Grilled Pizza. A pretty good success, but I'm not quite master of my domain yet.

First, we must make dough. You will need just over three hours of time, with short periods of work into between.

The Dough
from Tony Food, adapted from Alice Waters:

2 1/4 tsp Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup rye flour (or whole wheat flour)

1/2 cup plus 1Tbsp warm water,
2 Tbsp olive oil
3/4 tsp table salt (1 1/4 for kosher)
1 3/4 cup all purpose flour

The yeast...

The flour...

The sponge...flour, water, yeast. To make the sponge, combine the first three ingredients and allow to proof for 20 minutes. Cover and place in a warmish place.

The sponge after twenty minutes. Add the remaining four ingredients and knead until combined and tacky.

Place the dough ball in an oiled bowl. Cover with a damp towel, again in a warmish location and proof for 2 hours.

The proofed dough. After the two hours of rest, punch down the down and re-form into a ball and allow to rest for another 45 minutes...

Prepped for the second proofing.

After 45 minutes, you can divide the dough into 2 equal size balls and begin forming your pizza rounds. Start with your fingers and push the dough into a flat round. Use a rolling pin to continue rolling to your preferred thickness. Try for about 1/4 inch thick.

Prep your pizza toppings. Sauce...cheese...check. Meats and veg should be partially and/or fully cooked. The pizzas will cook quickly on the grill so you want them to be ready to cook quickly or finish cooking quickly. I made two pizzas, 1) tomato, mozzarella and basil 2) tomato, mozzarella and sausage. I pre-cooked the sausage.

Make sure your grill is hot and the grill grate is cleaned and oiled.

Brush one side of your dough round with olive oil and carefully place your dough round over the coals, oil side down. The dough will immediately start to cook and bubble. Watch closely. With the hot coals, the dough can burn easily. Slide the dough around to prevent too much burning. Oil the top side of the dough and flip to cook the opposite side... with the grilled side up...start dressing your pizza...

...sauce, basil...and later the cheese. Allow the crust to finish cooking. The mozzarella melted beautifully, but it did not get brown and bubbly like a pizzeria style pizza...because I was expecting it...the bottom of the crust burned a bit...

...I learned from my error and corrected pizza two. The sausage pizza was cooked to near perfection...

...the cheese could have melted a bit more...but still very tasty!

...and here's the first pizza.

When all was said and done...we ate very well! The tomato, basil and mozzarella pizza was simple and classic. The parts of the crust that weren't burned black, were very crisp. Per the recipe, the dough/crust was great! The sauce was simple...canned, whole tomatoes, little salt, little sugar, little oregano...done. No cooking. Very nice.

However...the sausage pizza was much better. Something about the sausage and the grill/smokey flavors just played so well together. Totally and completely satisfying. I will certainly try one again.

Lessons learned:
*Don't try to make two pizzas on the grill at once. Especially if the coals aren't even, you'll have uneven cooking and moving uncooked dough around a grill just makes a mess of your crust.
*Make sure you have the appropriate heat level in the grill. To hot and you'll just scorch the dough. To cool and you'll have flabby crust.

Can't wait to try this again...grilled pizza is goodness in summer, without firing up the oven!

Thanks Tony!


Tony said...

Great step-by-step pics! Temperature control is a lot easier on a gas grill. However gas grillers will lose out on some of that smokey flavor imbued to the crust (it'll still have a unique taste, though!). But either way its a very different style of pizza and I think you've hit upon the 'trick' between melting the cheese and scorching the crust. And either pre-cooking or going minimal with the toppings is a good way to hedge.

DancerInDC said...

For a first try it was definitely good - the sausage pizza was especially nice.

I should also note that there was a slight panic (mostly on my part) because it was just starting to rain, the sky was black, and it looked like things were going to get ugly.

Tony said...

@DancerInDC: I've been known to do pizza on the grill with a golf-size umbrella wedged between my neck and shoulder through pounding rain. I was slightly damp, but the 'pie' never got wet.

/Nothing short of gale-force winds stops pizza! :)