As I get older, my dislike of crowds increases, and nowhere is that more true than the many wood-fired pizza restaurants nearby. Their pizzas are good, but the ambient noise is approaching a roar at popular dining times, and price-wise, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze. So, it’s long past time to learn how to make incredible grilled pizza at home for a fraction of the price, all the flavor, and none of the crowds. This recipe, if you do it properly, requires about 3-4 hours total from start to finish, but most of that time is waiting for the dough.
You’ll need the following items:
- A grill, obviously
- Cooking spray
- A peel or a baking sheet with no lip on at least one edge (you will need a baking sheet no matter what)
- A large metal bowl
- A wet towel
- A clean flat surface for kneading
- A thermometer (infrared is best)
- A blender
- A food brush
For the pizza, you’ll need:
- 5 cups flour (AP is fine)
- 1 egg (omit if you use bread flour)
- 5 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 2 cups of cold water
- 1 cups of hot water (140F/60C)
- 1 tablespoon yeast – active dry, instant, or regular is fine
- 1 cup vegetable oil, divided in half
- Any Italian herb mix like basil, parsley, oregano, garlic, and thyme
For the sauce, you’ll need:
- 1 large can of tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon sugar or artificial sweetener
Plus, add whatever toppings you feel appropriate. Whatever toppings you choose, make sure they are relatively dry and/or pre-cooked. The pizza won’t be on the grill long enough to cook anything.
- Shredded cheeses
- Pre-cooked vegetables
- Pre-cooked proteins
- Fresh herbs (if you have only dry herbs, add them to the sauce instead)
Recipe : Preparation
- Start with your large metal bowl. In it, put one cup of cold water, 1 cup of flour, the egg, the yeast, and the sugar. Do not add the salt. Mix well. It’ll be a sticky mess.
- Add one cup of hot water, stirring slowly to bring everything together. At this point, you’re creating a sponge, a fertile growing bed for the yeast.
- Put the bowl in a warm place, covered with the wet towel, for 45 minutes. I typically turn on my oven until the interior surface is 140F/60C, then turn it off and put the bowl in.
- What’s happening here is that you’re letting the yeast multiply like crazy in a near-perfect environment with no distractions: water, food, and heat. Yeast grow really well in the 120F-130F/49C-range. This allows the yeast to create lots of flavorful by-products.
- After 45 minutes, you should have a large, sticky, foamy mess. Take the bowl out of the oven and stir in the salt, herbs, 1/2 cup vegetable oil, and the remaining flour. You should have a large, messy ball of dough.
- Turn your oven back on to warm.
- Knead for about 5 minutes or until you’re bored of kneading.
- Put the dough ball back in the bowl.
- Turn off your oven.
- Spray the top of the dough ball with cooking spray, put the towel back on, and put the dough back in the oven for another 45 minutes.
- After 45 minutes, take out the dough, turn the oven back on, and knead it again for another 5 minutes. If it’s too dry, add a little more water. If it’s too wet and sticky, add a little more flour. It’s just right when you can turn the bowl and the dough sticks to the edge for a little while but doesn’t permanently adhere to it, requiring a spatula to scrape it free.
- Turn off the oven.
- Put the dough back in the oven, covered in the bowl, for one more 45 minute resting period.
- While you’re waiting, put the tomatoes, salt, black pepper, and sugar/sweetener in your blender and blend it to a fine paste.
- Take out the dough and knead it one final time.
- Turn your grill on high heat. Make sure the grates are very clean. If they’re not, you will be very, very sorry.
- Spray/oil your baking sheet very well.
- Cut approximately a quarter of the dough (depending on the size of your baking sheet) and stretch it thinly on your baking sheet to cover the surface.
- Turn your grill down to medium heat.
- Place the baking sheet on the grill and close the lid. Wait for 2-3 minutes (depending on the temperature of your grill) or until you start to see smoke, whichever happens first.
- What you’re doing here is firming up the dough on one side so you can put toppings on it without making a huge mess and getting the dough to cook properly.
- Remove the sheet from the grill, and baste the top of the dough with vegetable oil using the food brush. You want it to be glistening, but not pooling.
- Turn your grill down to low heat.
- Using the sheet, flip the entire dough onto the grill grate.
- Add your toppings of choice. If you’re doing a traditional pizza, put the sauce down, then the toppings, then the cheese to secure everything.
- Wait 2-3 minutes until the cheese has melted or the grill is smoking.
- Remove from the grill and let rest for 60 seconds.
- Cut and serve.
The critical mistake I made was assuming that my grill had to be as hot as those fully-fired ovens you see at pizza restaurants. This is wrong; those brick ovens cook by convection, not conduction. They never put the pizza directly on the heat source. Your grill is a conductive heat source, meaning the heat source is being directly applied to your food. This in turn means that if you go full-blast, you’ll just burn your pizza almost instantly. Medium with the baking sheet and then low direct heat on the dough is all you need to get a beautiful, crispy crust with a little bit of char, but not enough that you’re eating charcoal.
Your grill grates matter. If you have those terrible, thin-wire grates that come standard with most grills, buy some replacement grates. You want big, heavy grill grates made of cast iron, because the heavier the grate, the more heat it can hold. Basically, you want a cast iron pan permanently on your grill, and heavy grates are exactly that. Be sure to season them properly, and re-season frequently.
Enjoy this pizza recipe in the comfort of your own home, at very low cost other than your time and the ingredients, and with none of the annoying families with screaming children in the booth next to you, flinging food at any unfortunate person nearby. Speech is silver, silence is golden, and peace and quiet is priceless.
Disclosure: all links are Amazon affiliate links.
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