Grilling season is here! Forget the humdrum brats and burgers. You can grill pizza – that’s right grill pizza – featuring that “stone oven” look and taste right on your deck with your gas grill. With grilled pizza, the crust is the star, so give the homemade dough a spin. Choose a few simple toppings to showcase the smoky flavor and the crispy crust! Once you see those grill marks and that charring on your crusts, you will be a grilled pizza convert and “takeout” pizza may become a meal of the past!
Of course, you can use any dough you wish – refrigerated, frozen dough (thawed), or fresh dough from a local pizza place – but you really must give homemade a try! If you don’t have a bread machine, you can make this same recipe with a mixer or food processor, let it rise until doubled, and continue with the process.
Bread Machine Pizza Dough
(Makes 5 – 7” rounds)
Put ingredients into your machine as directed by your manual. Use the “dough” cycle on your machine. This usually takes about 1½ hour, then your dough is ready to shape and grill.
• ¾ + 2 T. water
• ¾ tsp. salt
• 2 T. olive oil
• 2½ cups all purpose flourâ
• 2 tsp. sugar
• 1 pkg. or 2 tsp. active dry yeast
Fresh herbs of choice, optional
Preparing Crusts for Grilling
Divide dough into five equal portions (4 oz. each or about the size of a baseball), shape into rounds, either stretching them by hand or using a rolling pin. Each round should be no more than ¼ inch thick – the thinner, the better – and 7” is a good personal sized serving.
Make all the dough rounds at once. Stack together by coating parchment squares with olive oil, and layering the dough rounds between the papers. (Paper, oil, dough,oil: repeat.)
Heat the covered gas grill to 350°.
Take your stack of rounds to the grill on a sheet pan, along with tongs or a spatula for turning. Open the cover, pick up the paper under each round, then flip the dough onto the grill, then remove paper. Put 2-3 crusts on at once, depending on grill size. Work quickly putting the crusts on the grill to conserve heat.
Close the cover and grill about two minutes, rotate crusts 180°, grill another one-two minutes, until you have good “grill marks”, flip, grill one minute on second side, and remove.
Dressing and Grilling Your Pizzas
Have all your crusts, cheeses, cooked meats, and toppings at room temperature, laid out, and ready.
You will be “dressing” the darker side of the crust that has the charred “grill marks”. Dress each pizza sparingly, as it will only be on the grill long enough to melt the cheese, heat the toppings, and crisp the crust.
Return the dressed pizzas to a covered grill until the cheese melts and the toppings are heated through. Once they are back on the grill, watch carefully so you don’t burn the bottom crust. Charred crusts are tasty. Burned crusts? Not so much.
Depending upon the heat of the grill and the size of your pizzas, this should take about three minutes. If you go longer, watch carefully, your nose will be your guide!
Throwing a Grilled Pizza Party!
Now that you mastered the technique, it’s time to throw an “event pizza party!” You will be this year’s creative hosts of the neighborhood, all without heating up your oven or your kitchen. Turning your deck into a pizzeria is a unique, interactive party idea where the preparation and grilling ARE the entertainment. The hands-on technique of guests customizing their own “brand” of pizza provides unlimited opportunities for conversation, opinion polls, some friendly banter, sharing and/or judging the finished products. Prep can be done well in advance so everyone, including the hosts, can simply enjoy the fun. Whether it is a small family gathering or a larger party of friends, it’s time to shout, “All hands on deck!” and start grilling those pizzas!
Pizza Party Hints
• Prepare as many crusts as needed in advance and freeze. Bring out the day of the party to thaw.
• Pre-cook toppings like sausage, grilled chicken, ground beef, onions, peppers and mushrooms.
• Have all crusts, cheeses, sauces, and other toppings at room temperature.
• Dress crusts SPARINGLY! Don’t overload or they won’t get hot before the crust burns.
• Sauce ideas: marinara, pesto, Alfredo, olive oil, or dipping oils.
• Unique toppings: spinach, fresh herbs, olives, capers, or sun dried tomatoes.