Friday, June 16, 2017

Fire up Your Grill for Pizza

For anyone who loves food, when it's done on the grill, it just tastes better. In my opinion, this goes for pizza as well as anything else. I learned about making pizza on the grill many years ago, and every summer, at least once, I make grilled pizza. It tastes so good.
Grilled Pizzas
Grilled Pizzas: Potato, Rosemary & Gorgonzola on the left; Margherita on the right.

Two of the pizzas, (photos shown here) that I am most fond of are the traditional Margherita Pizza with fresh tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, and one made with potatoes - yes, potatoes - that I first tasted when in Las Vegas one time. From the visuals of that long-ago pizza, it had sliced baked potato, sprinkles of fresh, chopped rosemary, and Gorgonzola cheese crumbled over top. It was absolutely heavenly. I salivate when thinking about either of these variations. I have tried others, but today I am going to feature these two. 

Logistics of Grilling Pizza

Grilled Margherita Pizza
Grilled Margherita Pizza
There are logistics to making pizza on the grill. It is not a "pile it on at leisure and then bake" kind of thing. Instead, the crust has to be cooked on one side, and only then are toppings placed on the baked side. This means it is of crucial importance to have every single thing you need right at hand. It takes approximately 2 to 3 minutes over a hot grill to cook one side of the crust. When you flip it over to bake the other side, the clock is ticking. Any toppings have to be put in place quickly and the lid closed so they can cook. Any time spent while adding toppings ultimately counts as part of the the total time for cooking the opposite side of the crust. 

When making any kind of pizza, I like to brush the crust with olive oil and sprinkle with a thin coating of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Then I add the toppings. I do this same thing with the grilled pizza, so it is important to have the oil in a bowl with a pastry brush handy and also have the grated cheese handy. Then come the rest of the toppings. For the potato version, you will need to have a small potato (per pizza) already baked and cooled, then sliced about ¼-inch thick. Have a small container with some freshly chopped rosemary, and a container with Gorgonzola crumbles.

For the Margherita pizza, you'll need to have some tomato slices, preferably from a drier, Roma type tomato (you don't want lots of watery tomato liquid softening that nice, crunchy crust!). Then, a bag of mozzarella shreds and some fresh basil leaves will round out those ingredients.
Have all toppings assembled and ready to hand
Have all toppings assembled and ready to hand

As you can see, there are a lot of moving parts, but just arrange everything on a big baking sheet and have it nearby, so as soon as you flip the crusts over, you will be all set to top the pizzas. 

But there is yet another consideration to remember: You have to be able to lift these pizzas off the grill with ease, so that means you will be making little pizzas, about 10-inches in diameter. They are done in no time flat, so time is really not a bit issue. But small size is important. This also means you cannot overload with the toppings. Just imagine trying to slide an overly loaded pizza onto a plate and having all the toppings slip-sliding away. Not a good picture. So keep in mind  that the toppings need to be sparing. Less is more in this instance. But you will be rewarded with the most exquisite pizza experience: biting into that amazingly crispy crust with the added flavors of grilling, added to the particular topping flavors and oh-my-goodness. . .it's heavenly.

Just to recap:

  1. Have pizza dough made and ready.
  2. Roll pizza dough to small, 9 or 10-inch rounds, maximum.
  3. Heat the grill to hot.
  4. Have all topping ingredients assembled, ready and close at hand. 
  5. Place a 10-inch piece of dough onto the hot grill, close the lid and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Three at a time is manageable.
  6. With tongs or spatula, flip the pizza crust(s) over. They should be nicely baked, crisped and with prominent grill marks.
  7. Onto this baked side, quickly add the toppings, then close the lid and cook for an extra total time since flipped of another 2 to 3 minutes. Timing will depend on how hot the grill is.
The pizzas are done when the bottom crust is nice and crispy, and the cheese on top is melted. Gorgonzola cheese does not melt like mozzarella, so keep this in mind.

Many pizza restaurants will sell pizza dough. Or you can make your own. I make mine with a recipe I had played with for some time. I've tried others, and while delicious, sometimes they are too fussy in the process. For my pizza dough, I use the recipe found here, along with a Buffalo Chicken Pizza recipe. This pizza dough recipe will likely make at least three or possibly 4 small pizza crusts. I haven't ever used all of one recipe to make my grilled pizzas. My husband wants his toppings piled high and baked, so we divide the dough accordingly. 😏 If you need more than three or possibly 4 small pizzas, double the dough recipe accordingly.

Grilled Pizza (Margherita or Potato, Rosemary and Gorgonzola)

For one 9 to 10-inch pizza (multiply for added pizzas)
Pizza dough (see recipe here)
Grilled Potato, Rosemary & Gorgonzola Pizza
Grilled Potato, Rosemary & Gorgonzola Pizza

Pastry brush
Olive oil for brushing
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 or more as needed, Roma tomatoes, sliced
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil leaves for strewing

Pastry brush
Olive oil for brushing
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 small potato, baked, cooled, sliced
Fresh rosemary, chopped
Gorgonzola cheese crumbles

Start making the pizza dough about 4+ hours ahead, so it will be ready for you when needed.

Heat the grill to quite hot. Roll out portions of the pizza dough to 9 or 10-inches wide, not too thick. They may shrink back on themselves; just let them rest a few minutes to relax the gluten and re-roll.

Assemble all the topping ingredients and utensils on a large tray and place them somewhere very near to hand. Lift a rolled-out pizza crust and quickly set onto the hot grill grate. If you are making multiples, very quickly set the remaining crusts on the grill grate, then close the lid. Time for two minutes, then open the lid and check to see if the under-side of the crust is crisp. If not, close the lid for an extra minute. Once crisped, use a spatula or tings to turn the crusts.

Now, working as quickly as possible, brush the crusts with olive oil, and sprinkle with a thin layer of Parmesan cheese. Add on the toppings for either kind of pizza, as desired:

MARGHERITA: Place tomato slices onto the Parmesan, sprinkle on some fresh basil and mozzarella.

POTATO,ROSEMARY & GORGONZOLA: Set potato slices atop the Parmesan layer, then sprinkle with some fresh rosemary and strew Gorgonzola crumbles over top.

Once toppings are in place, taking into account the time since the crusts were flipped over, close the lid and time for another 2 minutes. Check the pizzas; if done to your liking, using a spatula, slide the pizzas onto plates or large baking sheets. Cut the pizzas into quarters and revel in the sound of the knife crunching through the crust!

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest at AHOFpin. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.