Wednesday, September 09, 2009

All About Grilled Pizza

I've thought about doing it for years when we didn't have a grill, and I talked about it just recently when me made this fantastic pie. Now, I'm happy to report that I've finally tried grilled pizza!

No doubt, I was apprehensive. It's not difficult, but I knew it had to be one of those things you just need to get the hang of, like folding an omelet or parallel parking. Fortunately, this is probably easier than either of those two examples. All you have to do is be prepared and pay attention to what you're doing. With that in mind, I also put together a few tips that will hopefully help, should you want to try grilled pizza for the first time too!

1) First up, the dough: Any dough is great! Buy it at a supermarket or make your own. I've relied on this whole wheat style for years now, and this time around, I wanted a more traditional white dough, so I used Cindy Mushet's recipe in The Art & Soul of Baking. However. Regardless of the dough you choose, results on the grill may be different than what you get with a pizza stone in the oven. The grill creates a flatbread-style result, rather than big, bubbly blisters from a very hot oven. Both delish, just slightly different.

2) Now we have visual aids! As seen in the image above, it is crucial to prep all your toppings ahead of time and have them ready to toss on the pizza. You should also cook anything in advance that needs cooking because it won't get direct heat from the grill. I caramelized the onions on the stove and broiled the figs. You'd want to cook things like sausage in advance, as well as firm veggies, like eggplant or zucchini.

3) You'll also want to prep the grill so you have a hot and cool side. Instead of piling the coals in the center, scoot them to one side. You'll see why in tip #7.

4) In the kitchen, roll out your dough on an oiled piece of parchment paper. Then brush the rolled out dough with oil too. When you take it outside, flip the parchment so the dough hits the grill, then peel off the paper. Heat proof mitts are essential here, as well as for the rest of the process.

5) Don't make huge pies. Ya know, it's possible, but smaller ones are easier to handle. For a recipe that makes enough dough for 2 thin, 12-inch pies, you should get 4 pies for the grill. In the image above, the dough has started to cook since you can see bubbles forming. As soon as the edges begin to set, started lifting the dough to check the bottom for browning and rotating it for even cooking. That way, you can prevent...

6) a burnt crust! Pizza will blacken FAST when it's over direct flame. Just check it obsessively, and you'll be fine.

7) When the first side is done, flip it and move the pizza to the cool side of the grill. That way nothing gets scorched while you arrange your toppings. When you're done, scoot it back over to the hot side and cover the grill. This is where experience comes in, as well as a sense of how hot and fast your grill is. Leave it covered for as long as you think you can, then start checking obsessively again. If the bottom is browned and you want to continue heating the toppings (perhaps to melt your cheese more), just move it back to cool side and cover the grill till you're satisfied.

And that's it! Easy, right? I was thrilled that we only flubbed that first crust by leaving it over the hot coals a bit too long. One casualty on our maiden voyage isn't too bad at all! The pizza we made, by the way is one of my absolute favorites: fresh figs, caramelized onions, prosciutto, Feta and basil. Read more here.

So, what do you think of these tips? Anything new that you've never tried before? Do you think I'm doing this completely wrong? Air your opinions in the comments!


Daniel said...

Thanks for a great tutorial Julie! I had just one question for many inches above the coals do you recommend setting the crust? It looks like about 4 inches judging by your pictures. Is that about right?

Casual Kitchen

Julie said...

Daniel: We just put it on our grill rack. We have a basic weber grill, so it doesn't adjust. It's more than 4 inches though. The height doesn't matter as long as you keep an eye on the cooking!

Snooty Primadona said...

Okay, I'm convinced. I've had like 6 recipes for a year or more now & have been afraid to try them. You have inspired me & given me tips not included in the recipes I have. Thank you!

Jenn said...

We did this over the weekend and had a lot of fun with it. It was great and we'll do it again. We're about to start a kitchen remodel so I'm trying to figure out what we can do on the grill besides the usuals.

darnold23 said...

I'm a huge fan of grilled pizza. Yours looks fantastic. I would love for you to join me at for Crock Pot Wednesday. We are all about ease of preparation and good taste.

Anonymous said...

Why was my comment regarding grills on balconies in Chicago deleted?? It was a public service to you as a new transplant to Chicago.

Julie said...

Anonymous: I deleted because it wasn't relevant. I am also well-acquainted with my lease terms.

Lisa~~ said...

Your grilled pizza looks wonderful especially as I adore figs on pizza. I make grilled pizza all year round as they're a favorite in our home and so easy to make for guests especially when I let everyone dress their own pizza.

I have found that if I grill one side of the dough I can then stack the doughs, put them in a Ziplock and keep in the fridge or freezer for later use. This works great if we have guests as I let the dough warm to room temp, everyone puts on their toppings and I do the final grilling. If you're interested you can check out some of my grilled pizzas: