Sunday, July 5, 2009

Reaching Your Grill Potential: Pizza

When it comes to pizza, I'm not exactly, um... discriminating. I'll eat just about anything with a crust and cheese. I do have my favorite styles, of course (honestly, you can't beat a perfectly-executed Neapolitan-style pie, with it's thin, blistery wood-fired crust), but really, it's hard for me to walk away from pizza of any variety. (Guilty pleasure admission: $2 slices at Costco. Don't judge.)

That being said, rarely do I make pizza at home (why bother? very nice kids will deliver it right to your door in under an hour), but when I do, there's really only one method: I cook it on the grill. I suppose it's my own way of getting that wood-fired flavor without the luxury of having my own pizza oven (and for my friends who do - and you know who you are - let's fire it up already, sheesh!!). Making pizza on the grill is simple, and as with any pizza, the topping combinations are only as endless as your imagination. There really is no recipe, just some basic instuctions on technique:
  • Go easy on yourself - use pre-made pizza dough. I get mine at Trader Joes, of course.
  • Form the pizza dough in to a big round ball, and then roll it in cornmeal. The cornmeal will not only help to provide some structure to the elastic dough as you stretch it, helping it to maintain its shape, it will also give the crust an added bit of tasty crunch.
  • Don't be concerned about shape. Without the aid of a pizza pan, your pie will almost certainly not be round. Just stretch the dough to your preferred thickness as best you can - take whatever shape you get.
  • Throw the stretched dough directly onto a very hot oiled grill. Don't touch it - let it cook for approximately 5 minutes on the first side. If you try to move it too early, you'll end up with a gloppy sticky mess.
  • Once the first side has cooked sufficiently enough where you can lift the entire sheet of dough, flip it and turn the heat to low. Add your sauce and toppings (pre-cook any toppings that might require it since cooking time for a pizza on the grill is short; for instance, in the pie pictured, I sauteed the mushrooms in advance with a little crushed garlic).
  • Once your sauce and toppings are in place, close the lid of the grill and let the pie bake to perfection. The pie is done when the dough is cooked throughout and the bottom is toasted with grill marks.
The pie pictured here is a beautiful example of what good results look like, and in fact, it might just be my favorite pizza I've ever created. It was topped with alfredo sauce; heaps of various gourmet mushroom varieties like morel, chantrelle, shiitake and porcini (acquired at the Berkeley Bowl, mentioned in a previous post); fontina cheese, and fresh Wedgewood thyme from my brand new herb garden. I'd be happy to make it again (twist my arm)... just let me know when you want to come over!


  1. I just made some 2 days ago for the first time. I grilled a yellow pepper while the grill heated up. Put it in a paper bag while I cooked the crust. I then put on pesto sauce, fresh mozzarella, and my grilled pepper. YUMMY! My kids even liked it. Thanks for more ideas!

  2. Wow that sounds amazing and I just got up from the dinner table. But then, mushrooms are a major weakness for me. You can have the chocolate, just leave me the mushrooms. Fontina too. Heaven.

    Personally, I only make pizza when I have time to make the all day UNI sanctified dough recipe with "00" flour. It's the thin crust you mention. That said, though I don't judge anyone cutting corners. I certainly do when I can. I love TJs and Costco and will probably now try the TJs dough.

    O.K. I'll even admit to loving the Costco Polish.