when dough meets grill

bread flour

So early yesterday morning it suddenly became quite clear to me – I needed grilled pizza!   Once I’d made up my mind I quickly mixed up a simple dough for the crust.  I was quite excited because I always make a focaccia style crust but this time I changed it up!  I skipped the all-purpose flour and used bread flour.  I tossed equal parts salt and sugar in a bowl along with some yeast and warm water (no olive oil)- mixed it all up and set it out on the counter to rise.

The hubs and I headed out for some ice cream- well, fro-yo for me, at J.P. Licks!  One of my favorite things to do ever!  They have hard mint chocolate chip fro-yo and FAT FREE hot fudge! HELLO!!! What’s not to love?  Then, we headed over to my most favorite store in all the world, The Whole Foods!

I bought some beautiful Maine grown hot house tomatoes, some fresh locally made mozzarella and vino.  I like the vino with pizza.  Then I looked at really expensive cheese and pined over a container of black truffle infused butter.  I WILL have you black truffle infused butter.  I WILL HAVE YOU!!!

seriously good maine tomatoes

When we got home, I cut up some chicken breasts and set them to marinate in a bowl of that balsamic vinegar I’m so crazy about and then I infused a little dish of olive oil with garlic, sea salt and some tri-colored peppercorns.  Infused, sounds bothersome? It’s not- it’s easy peasy!  I just poured about 1/4 cup of olive oil into a glass custard dish, sprinkled in a bit of salt, threw in 10 little peppercorns and dropped in two cloves of garlic that I pealed and smashed with hammer- then popped it in the micro for 25 seconds.  You can do the same thing on the stove top- just warm the oil and additional ingredients over a low flame for bit and let it sit and soak in all the good flavors!

After the chicken had bathed in the balsamic for an hour or so I plopped it into a cast iron pan, covered it with a piece of parchment paper and then foil and popped the chicken into an oven preheated to 350 for 1/2 an hour.  Then I started the fire in the grill and got busy with the other pizza toppings.

I thinly sliced up a red onion and put that in a pan with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt over a medium/low flame, stirring occasionally, until they had softened and caramelized. In another pan I tossed some chopped red pepper, salt, olive oil, again, over a medium/low flame until they’d softened a bit, but still had a little bite to them.  By now the chicken was ready to come out of the oven…

Once the chicken was out, the veggies cooked, the oil infused, the mozzarella torn into bits and the tomatoes thinly sliced….guess what happened next!!!  Hello! Mise en place!!!!

mise en place, grilled pizza style!

It is imperative when grilling pizza to have everything you need out on a table next to the grill- you have to move quickly!  Other tools you will need next to the grill are a metal skewer or fork (when the pizza is cooking it will bubble up and you will need to poke the bubbles) and a heavy duty metal bbq spatula!

If you’ve made the pizza crust yourself roll it out and place it on a peel or un-rimmed cookie sheet which you have heartily sprinkled with coarse cornmeal.  Have your pizza mise en place out next to the grill and make sure the fire is SUPER low!  I use hardwood charcoal when I grill and the charcoal should basically be burned down to embers- pretty much gray with a little orange.  Before you put the dough on the grill, clean the hot grill surface with a metal brush and spray some grilling oil on the surface- then, quickly and with great confidence, vigorously slide your pizza dough off the peel/cookie sheet  and onto the grill!  Sometimes you’re going to have to pull here or there once it lands.  Now there is a good chance flames will erupt!  If this should happen, quickly shut the lid of your grill.  Now, grab your brush and infused oil, wait a minute or two, open the lid and brush the top of the dough with oil.  If the dough is getting bubbly, pop the bubbles with your skewer- if flames shoot up cover the grill for a couple of seconds.

bubbly pizza brushed with infused oil

Now, take your spatula and kind of lift the edges of the pizza up and take a peak and see if it’s cooking up.  If you think it looks good, use a peel/cookie sheet, spatula to flip it over. This time the coals will flame up because of the oil on the dough- shut the grill, give it a minute, open it, brush the dough with oil and start adding your toppings-

first cooked side

My first layer of toppings-

delicious tomatoes

2nd layer-

caramelized onions & sweet red pepper

3rd-

balsamic marinated chicken, mozzarella, fresh basil

Once you have all your toppings piled on, close the lid and let the cheese turn into lovely melty goodness.  It shouldn’t take long.  Once you’re liking how it looks, slide your peel or sheet underneath it and remove it from the grill!

done! first of the year!

Yes, it does take some time and some planning!  But it is so delicious!!!  If you are interested in learning how to prepare and grill your own pizzas I will be teaching a class in this fabulous cooking technique in the spring!  Mangia! Mangia!

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