Grilling a pizza is one of those things that I’ve always planned to get around to.. in the future. Maybe it was the tinge of weirdness, or additional steps required after making a pizza by hand, but I’ve always decided to do it a different day, or a different occasion. Procrastination aside, I finally started trying to grill pizzas over the last few weeks, and it’s been a revelation. Not of divine proportions, but probably about as close as you could get from a pizza lover. The fantastic thing about cooking pizza on the grill is you can get the pizza to a much higher temperature than a conventional oven. You also get a smokey, barbecuy taste that can’t be matched.
General Tips (recipes follow)
1) Have patience
Grilling is always an imperfect science at the best of times. Getting the condition right for your particular grill or barbecue takes time. We had a few disasters here, quite a few.. 2 totally burnt pizzas, a dropped pizza (that one almost ended in tears), and a few that still tasted good but I knew could be better. So don’t despair, it’s worth the persistence, well worth it!
2) Thin on the base, thin on the toppings
Because the pizza cooks so fast, and the heat can be very very hot, we’ve found you get more consistent results with a thin base and thin toppings. Feel free to experiment.
3) Even heat distribution
Using a gas grill: Make sure your burners are in tip top shape, and not producing any hotspots Using a charcoal bbq: Keep your coals even across the span of the pizza stone.
4) Use a pizza stone if you can
There are two schools of thought with grilling pizzas. One is to cook your pizza straight on the grid with an indirect heat source. The other is to use a pizza stone. Using a pizza stone tended to even out the heat a lot better, reduced the risk of burning the pizza, and of course you can compile the pizza in the kitchen rather than on the grill itself.
The pizza dough
This recipe is great on the grill. It makes 2-3 pizzas depending on the size of your pizza and how much pizza dough is stolen. I tend to split the pizza dough in thirds, use one, and wrap the other two separately with lots of plastic wrap and store it in the fridge.
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 envelope instant yeast
1 1/4 cups water; at room temperature
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
22 ounces bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
1. Sprinkle yeast onto the warm water for about 5 minutes. Then add the room temperature water and olive oil.
2. Mix the flour and salt in a food processor. Pulse the food processor while adding the liquid ingredients from step 1. Process until dough comes together, and is smooth and stretchy.
3. Dump out onto a floured work surface. Kneed briefly to form a ball.
4. Put the dough into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place, 1/2 to 2 hours.
BBQ pizza sauce
This sauce is exceptionally simple, and works best with fresh tomatoes, but you could use canned.
1 lb tomatoes
1 Tbsp Olive oil
2 cloves garlic
Salt to taste
1/4 cup good bbq sauce, such as Grumpy’s Goodnight Lovin’
1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the Olive oil and garlic for 30 seconds, being careful not to burn it.
2. Add in the tomatoes and simmer until the tomatoes melt down and thicken, about 20 minutes
4 oz Mozzarella, shreaded or cut half inch thick
8 oz Pepperoni, peeled and thinly sliced
That’s it. You could do whatever you want for a topping and sauce, but remember, be spartan: less is more, especially on the grill.
Grilling the Pizza
1. You want an even heat distribution over your grill. If you’re using gas, turn on all burners, if charcoal, spread coals evenly across the bbq. Put the stone in when the grill is still cold, and close the lid for it to preheat (about 20 minutes depending on your grill).
2. Sprinkle semolina or cornmeal onto a pizza peel, then place your pizza dough onto the peel. If you don’t have one, you might need to improvise a little.
3. Add the sauce, and toppings.
4. Take the pizza peel over to the grill and slide the pizza onto the pizza stone.
5. Cooking times vary greatly but you want to take the pizza off when the crust starts browning in spots, about 5-10 minutes. Be sure not to leave it unattended as it can go from delicious looking to a burnt mess in minutes (from experience).