July 2, 2011

An Adventure in Grilling Pizza

Have you ever grilled pizza?  It has been featured in a lot of trendy food magazines in the last few years, but I'd honestly not done it myself until tonight.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you may remember that I am a bit averse to recipes.  Especially in the summer, I tend to "experiment."

Yeah, that's generally a bad thing when trying to do something trendy.


It's too hot to cook.  But Jason's finally feeling better, and after doing a little yard work and lounging in the backyard for a few hours this afternoon, it felt as if the only appropriate ending to the day would be to grill something.



No, earlier in the day, inspired by our newly-fixed dishwasher, I had decided to make a double batch of pizza dough.  Except that I couldn't find the recipe I normally use , so I just mixed equal parts (about 2 cups each) all-purpose flour and semolina flour with about 1/2 a cup of high-gluten flour, a few teaspoons each of salt, sugar and vinegar, a teaspoon of yeast, a drizzle of olive oil and just less than 2 cups of water.

Yes, I know baking is a science and you're supposed to actually measure ingredients and follow recipes. I have no excuse for my laziness.  None whatsoever.

I let the dough rise in the mixing bowl on the counter, turning it every so often for at least 4 hours. Then Grace and I pulled and rolled the dough as thin as we could, while Jason heated the grill.  She kept asking if we could do one of the four crusts in a heart shape, or a square.  I explained that the primary objective is to get the dough as thin as possible.  The finished shape is secondary, but when you get good at it, it will be a circle.  Her crust ended up being the shape "of the Blue's Clues dog without ears." One of our four crusts resembled a circle.

Of course, this would have been a great time to look at a recipe. But if you're not even gonna use a recipe for your dough ingredients, why confuse things by researching the proper procedure?

We cranked that grill up to high heat, sprayed it with oil--could we have exploded that can of Pam, like my juvenile friends and I used to try to do with WD40?--and used a rolling pin to "roll" the dough "rounds" onto the grill.  We closed the lid and waited.  One minute made the crust nicely bubbly and seemed to put nice char marks on it.  More than two minutes seemed to be too much.

We let the crusts cool, chose our favorite two, and Grace and I each topped one.
(We froze the two extra, oddly-shaped crusts for use another day.)  We arranged the toppings on the cooked side of the crust, assuming we'd put the pizzas back on the grill to cook the bottoms and melt the cheese.

Gracie topped her pizza with homemade pizza sauce that we had canned last summer, mozzarella cheese, chicken sausage, potatoes and thyme.  (The sausage and potatoes made a happy face on the pizza and the thyme was the hair.) Kids!

I topped my pizza with olive oil, sautéed onion and chard from the garden, a yellow potato which I had thinly sliced and baked with olive oil , salt and pepper--I know, the whole point of grilling is not heating up the house by using the oven-- chicken sausage, thyme and just a little provolone cheese.  (Yes, I was thinking of this pizza . No, I don't know why I didn't just follow the recipe.  Someday. Someday, I will.)

Welp, we put my pizza back on the grill, turned the heat to medium, closed the lid and cooked it for almost five minutes. Oops:  "One minute made the crust nicely bubbly and seemed to put nice char marks on it."  Four minutes killed the whole bottom of the pizza. But the cheese on top was barely melted.

Conveniently, the oven was still warm from those potatoes, so we opted to cook Grace's pizza in the oven.  Five minutes at 450º and it was perfect.  Crispy crust and bubbly cheese, with some grill flavor from the first grilling.

The thing about experiments is that sometimes they work and sometimes they don't.  Maybe next time I'll use a recipe.

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