One of America’s favorite foods: pizza, meets one of the favorite pastimes: grilling! What emerges from this interaction is a thin, crispy, smoky crust topped with fresh, flavorful toppings and smooth, melted cheese. How could this not be amazingly perfect!?!
Recently, I have noticed fire grilled pizza businesses popping up at local fairs and festivals. After just a few minutes wait, you have a tasty pizza. Well, when you see how simple these are to prepare and how much fun it can be for a family or get-together with friends, you will make grilling pizza a frequent event.
I often use a store-bought bread machine mix for an easy and fail proof dough. However, this time, my dough flopped for some reason and I ended up heading to my pantry for the ingredients for dough. I still used my bread machine so that while the dough mixes and rises I can be prepping the toppings for my pizzas. You can use whatever your preferred pizza dough is; homemade, box mix or refrigerated dough.
Pizza Dough Recipe (for bread machine)
1 T Milk
1 T Oil
1 T Sugar
1/2 t Salt
2 1/4 C Flour
1 pkg Active Dry Yeast
Optional: 1 t Italian Seasoning, pinch each Garlic & Onion Powder
Place ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed and set on dough setting. Once done, put on a lightly floured surface and kneed a couples times. Pull apart into individual pizza size pieces and roll into balls. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. The dough will continue to rise in the refrigerator, and that is okay. A cold rise slows the life cycle of yeast allowing the dough to develop more flavor. Pull the dough out and allow it to rest a few minutes before use. When you are ready to grill, oil your hands and press the dough onto an oiled baking sheet. Press out or roll until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick or less. Part of the fun in grilled pizza is the “rusticness” of the crust, so no need to worry if it isn’t a perfect circle. Brush on olive oil and the dough is ready for the grill.
Time to get your toppings ready. You can use whatever your favorite pizza toppings are. Just remember, they aren’t going to have much cooking time on the grill so anything that needs to be cooked fully, like sausage, should be prepared ahead of time. Also, veggies such as mushrooms, onions and tomatoes should be sliced very thin. I love a variety of onions (Vidalia, green and red), fresh roasted garlic (how to roast garlic), fresh basil and a combination of cheeses including fresh mozzarella and a blend of grated Parmesan and Romano.
Sweet basil is a common herb used in Italian cooking. There are actually 64 species of basil. In addition to the basic clove flavor, it comes in citrus and spicy flavors such as lemon basil and anise basil. Basil is fairly easy to grow. It prefers full sunlight, temperatures above 60 degrees and regular watering. When you want to use it, just pinch off a leaf. Fresh basil is much preferred over dried because the flavor can change when dried. Basil leaves can bruise and turn dark when cut with a knife so for most recipes, just tear it with your fingers. I use so much basil that I have to plant 2-3 plants in my herb garden to keep up.
Preheat the grill and set temperature at medium heat. Be sure the grill rack is clean so you don’t end up with remnants of your last grilled meal in your pizza crust…yuck! Brush oil on the rack. Unless you are very familiar with your grill’s temperature settings and the location of any “hot spots,” start with one [test] crust…just in case! My dough took about 3-4 minutes each side.
Now, comes the part where you have to act fast. Once you have flipped the crust over, quickly put on the desired toppings and get the lid closed so they can warm and the cheese can melt. If you are going to let others put their toppings on, you will need to remove the crust to the baking sheet while they top it and then put it back on the grill.
Cook an additional 3-4 minutes or until the bottom is grilled to your preference and the cheese is melted. I love the flavor of the slightly burnt edges of the crust and the way the fresh mozzarella cheese melts. When you bite into the pizza, you get a little of all of the textures: crunch of the crust, tender crisp vegetables and warm, soft cheeses.
The variety of pizzas you can make are endless! If someone isn’t a marinara sauce fan, have some garlic butter or an Alfredo sauce available. Garlic butter with mushrooms, spinach and grilled chicken is a great combination. The Caps and Bleu Cheese Flatbread I make would also be excellent on the grill. I could go on and on, but I am making myself hungry! So, go ahead and try grilled pizza…I bet you won’t be ordering delivery this summer!