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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Char-Grilled Pizza

If you haven't experienced Grilled Pizza, you are truly missing out! Yesterday's was the best Pizza I have ever eaten! It was so good I almost cried...OK, I did a little, sue me, I was touched. If you've never thrown a pizza on a grill, it sounds like it could be a disaster. This couldn't be further from the truth. It cooks in only a few minutes, and the dough is crisp and blistered with fantastic grill marks. There isn't a special dough recipe, mine is below, which is adapted from The Joy of Cooking, which in my opinion, is an indispensable resource. The thing that really makes this pizza special is a light smoky flavor. I use a gas grill with a wood chip tray; apple wood chips. My sauce is a must for this, and it also must have smoke. Yesterday my toppings were Grilled Chicken (marinated just as the Romas), thinly julienned Red Onion, and Bell Pepper. This pizza is also great with just cheese. Here is how I make it:

Basic Pizza Dough

1 Package Active Dry Yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
1 1/3 Cups Water (105 d-115d F)
1 Tbsp Honey
3 1/2 - 3 3/4 Cups A.P. Flour
2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Sea Salt

Combine the Yeast, Water, and Honey and let stand about 5 minutes, or until the yeast starts to bloom. I use a kitchen aid with a dough hook, gradually start adding your flour with the motor on low speed. After 1 Cup is added, add the salt. Continue adding the flour until you add about 3 1/4 cups. At this point I always turn my dough on to a lightly floured bench, bread dough is a touch thing for me. Knead the dough, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic.
Let rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk.

Smoky Roma Tomato Sauce

1 lb. Nicely Ripe Roma Tomatoes, cored and halved
3 Cloves Fresh garlic, put through a press
1/4 Cup Chopped Fresh Basil
10 Turns of Black Pepper
1 tsp. Crushed Red Pepper

Toss these ingredients together (no salt yet please, you don't want all of the liquid escaping), let stand for 1 hour. Heat a Gas Grill with some wood chips. Once the grill is hot and the chips are smoldering, put the tomatoes on the grill (save the bowl), round side down. Grill them until soft, about 10 minutes. Put them back in the bowl, which probably has some basil and garlic in the bottom. I use an immersion blender to puree this, leaving it just a little chunky. Add a little honey, about 2 Tbsp Chopped Basil, and salt to taste.

Grilling the Pizza

Punch your dough down and divide into balls, about the size of a racquet ball. Put these onto a baking sheet with about 1/2 cup of olive oil (you want quite a bit). When your grill is hot and smoky, flatten out a ball in the oil, very thin, don't sweat a few little holes. In my opinion, the more oddly shaped each pizza is the better. Throw this on the grill without letting the dough bunch up. When you check underneath, and there are nice grill marks, flip it over. Add a thin layer of sauce, Cheese (I used a mixture of Fontina, Asiago, Parmesan, and Mozzarella), and any additional toppings you like. When the dough is cooked, transfer the pizza to the top rack, this allows time for crisping, melting, and absorption of smoke. If you don't have a top rack, keep one side of the grill on low. Top with chopped Basil.


At 1:41 AM, Blogger Carolyn said...

Wow, I'll have to get my husband to save some cherry chips for grilling. Your pizza sounds scruptious. I didn't realize you were a professional cook--which is your restaurant?

At 1:30 PM, Blogger Cate said...

The pizza sounds great. I have a superb recipe for grilled pita pizzas with caramelized onions and goat cheese ... delish!

At 5:27 PM, Blogger Kevin said...


"There isn't a special dough recipe, mine is below, which is adapted from The Joy of Cooking, which in my opinion, is an indispensable resource."

It's odd. I've had JofC for years and have seldom gotten any good out of it, although I know excellent cooks, such as yourself, who have. I've come to the conclusion that just as we each have our own cooking style, we each have our own way of responding to cookbooks.

At 6:36 PM, Blogger Danno said...

Sweetnicks - Grilled Pita Pizza sounds great as well, the Goat Cheese would be great!

Kevin - Very true, regarding cooking techniques and cookbooks. I love the Joy of Cooking, although I'm not crazy about the recipe layout, though they always turn out for me. What I love is the wealth of information, if I have a question about a certain dish or ingredient, JofC is usually my first stop, it's like a cook's encyclopedia.


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