Homemade pizza is the perfect quick meal. It’s casual, fun and makes great use of the bountiful tomatoes and peppers available now.
But who wants to turn the oven up to its highest settings when it’s still hot? How much nicer it would be just to fire up the outdoor grill instead.
That’s just what a new generation of adventurous cooks is doing. They’ve developed techniques for grilling pizza directly on the wire grate without the need of special pans or stones and they’re turning out crisp-crusted pies with the savory, smoky flavor of pizza straight out of a wood-fired oven.
Gas or charcoal is your choice. Either fuel works fine although purists insist on hardwood charcoal.
The real secret to a good grilled pizza is rolling out the crust so that it’s very thin and cooking it on one side before flipping it over and adding the toppings to the grilled side. Meat should be pre-cooked since the typical pizza spends less than 10 minutes on the grill after the toppings have been added.
Fire up the grill and you can have terrific pizza in half an hour.
BASIC PIZZA DOUGH
Makes two 12-inch crusts 1 cup lukewarm water, plus extra as needed 1 /4 cup olive oil, plus extra for oiling the bowl 1 1 /2 teaspoons sugar or honey 1 package active dry yeast (2- 1 /4 teaspoons) 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus extra as needed 1 1 /2 teaspoons kosher salt.
If your kitchen is cool, preheat the oven to 150 degrees or the lowest setting. Pour the water into the work bowl of a large food processor or stand mixer. Sprinkle the oil, sugar and yeast over the water and pulse several times until mixed. Add the flour and salt and process until the mixture comes together. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky. (If it is very sticky, add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until smooth. If it is too stiff, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and pulse until smooth.)
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface; knead by hand a few minutes to form a smooth, round ball. Put the dough in an oiled clean bowl, turn it over several times in the bowl to coat it with oil, drizzle a little oil over the top, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Place in a warm spot or turn off the oven and stick it in there. Let rise until the dough has doubled in size, about 15 minutes in the oven or 1 hour in the warm spot.
Once the dough has risen, punch it down and knead on a lightly floured surface for 1 to 2 minutes, until smooth. Divide into two equal-size balls and proceed with your pizza making.
Source: ‘‘Pizza on the Grill’’
CARAMELIZED ONION PIZZA
2 tablespoons butter 2 tablespoons olive oil 3 pounds yellow onions, thinly sliced 1 teaspoon sugar Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar Dough for two 12-inch pizzas 6 ounces Sweet 100 or grape tomatoes 12 ounces small fresh mozzarella balls, halved 3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and stir to coat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet, and cook for 10 minutes, or until the onions have softened. Remove the cover, add the sugar, and season lightly with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the onions are a rich golden brown. Remove from the heat and stir in the vinegar. Let the mixture cool.
Prepare dough and grill first side of crust as directed in the accompanying recipe. Remove crust to a peel or rimless baking sheet, flip it to grilled side up, and spread the onion mixture evenly over it. Arrange the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese in a pattern over the onions.
Finish grilling until cheese is golden brown and bubbly. Remove and sprinkle 1 1 /2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese over each pizza. Cut and serve immediately. Serves 4.
Adapted from ‘‘Tomatoes & Mozzarella.’’
ITALIAN SAUSAGE, PEPPERS AND ONIONS
8 ounces Italian sausage, cut into thin slices 2 cups red, yellow and green bell pepper slices 1 large red onion, cut into 8 wedges 2 tablespoons olive oil Shaved Parmesan cheese
Oil the interior and exterior of a grill wok and place on a baking sheet. In a zipper-top plastic bag, combine the sausage, peppers and onion. Drizzle with the olive oil and toss to coat.
Place the grill wok on the grill grate over medium hot heat. Dump the contents of the bag into the prepared grill wok and stir-grill, tossing with wooden paddles every 2 minutes or so for 15 minutes, or until the vegetables have browned and softened, and the sausage is done.
Remove the wok to the baking sheet before topping a 12-inch round of pizza dough that has been grilled on one side with the mixture. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the top and grill until done. Serves 2.
HOW TO GRILL A PIZZA
What you need:
Dough for 12-inch pizza
Cornmeal for pizza peel
Toppings of your choice How to proceed: Roll out dough to a thickness of about 1 /8-inch to 1 /4-inch. Sprinkle cornmeal on pizza peel (a rimless cookie sheet also will work) and transfer dough to peel to rest before grilling. For gas grills: Light all burners and preheat for about 10 minutes to medium high, or 400 degrees on the thermometer. Lift pizza dough at one end and transfer from peel to grill. If the dough crumples or folds on to itself, try to straighten the edges quickly with tongs or a spatula. Close the grill lid and let crust cook for 2- 1 /2 to 3 minutes. The dough will puff up and brown to a light brown on the bottom side. It should develop good grill marks and a little charring. Slide the crust back onto the peel and remove from heat. Flip it over to grilled side up and cover with toppings of your choice. Turn off one or two burners to create an indirect cooking surface. Return the prepared crust to unheated side of the grill, close lid and bake until bottom of crust is lightly browned and the cheese bubbly. This may take 7-10 minutes. For charcoal grills: Remove cooking grate from kettle and place a charcoal chimney on bottom grate. Fill top section of chimney with charcoal, place crumpled paper in bottom chamber and light with long match. When coals are covered in white ash, spread them out in a single layer on bottom grate. Replace top grate and cover with lid. Let heat for about 5 minutes until medium hot (you can hold your hand about 6 inches above the grill for about 5 seconds before it gets too hot.) Following directions for gas model, transfer dough to grill and let cook 2- 1 /2-3 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove crust from heat, flip it over and cover with toppings. Remove the grate, rake coals to one side of kettle, and replace grate. Slide pizza crust onto side of grill with no coals. Close lid and bake until bottom is lightly browned and cheese bubbly, about 5-8 minutes.