Saturday, June 27, 2009

Grilled Pizza

OK, I start this post a little defencive, it looks like this is becoming a grilling blog instead of a general foodie nerd blog. In my defence after I had made a few grill related posts already the temperatures in the Chicago area jumped from spring like and pleasant to downright Floridian (upper 90s and so HUMID) so the thought of turning on my oven is just out of the question. So please bear with me for a few out door related posts, I will bring it back inside soon.

I wanted to make pizza, without heating up my kitchen and in the process really my entire house the obvious answer is to make it on the grill. My preference for home made pizza crust has always been French Bread Dough. It is sturdy enough to hold up to generous pizza toppings and the recipe is forgiving enough to allow me some leeway with ingredients, below is the basic recipe that I used:

2 Cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp distilled white vinegar

1 tsp dry active yeast
1/2 + 1/3 cup water

Put the yeast and 1/3 cup warm water (105-115 F) and set aside for about 5 minutes until it begins to activate (gets foamy)

Put the flour and salt into a mixing pan then add the yeast mixture while stirring with dough hooks, add the splash of vinegar and continue to mix until it forms a ball that pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl.

Cover the bowl with a slightly damp towel and let it sit in a warm spot for an hour or so kneed it a few times to deflate during that hour.

For the sauce I have to admit that I almost bought a pre-made sauce, because I was feeling a little lazy, but decided against it. The pre-made Pizza sauce that I found was $4.97for a 10 oz package where the 15 oz can of diced tomatoes was $ .87 and I knew would taste better in the end. I have some Basil an Oregano growing in the "garden" so the rest of the ingredients would be easy.

3 cloves fresh garlic
1 small onion
1Tbs Olive oil
1Tbs chopped fresh Basil
2 tsp chopped fresh Oregano
1/2 tsp Kosher salt
15 oz can of diced tomatoes
1/2 can of tomato paste
pinch of pepper
pinch of brown sugar

Start by mincing the garlic and dicing the onions then put into saucepan with hot olive oil. Saute for a few minutes until soft. Then add the Diced Tomatoes (you can use any kind of tomatoes as this all goes into a blender) and keep over medium heat then add the Basil, Oregano, Salt and Pepper. Let this simmer for a while then put into a blender or food processor and puree. Put it all back into the sauce pan and add about 1/3 can of tomato paste and just a little brown sugar. Be careful I like just a little sugar but it is easy to over do. Let it cook for a few more minutes taste and make any adjustments then remove from heat.

First light the grill and when the coals are ready spread them to the edges so you will be cooking with somewhat indirect heat. Now is when the fun begins! Flour a work area and your ball of dough then roll out to about 1/4 inch thick or so. It doesn't seem like too long ago (ok it was about 18 years ago) that I could take a pound and a quarter of French bread dough and roll out a perfect 16 inch circle, obviously I am a little out of practice. In the end the shape doesn't matter as long as it fits on the grill top.

Once it is rolled out put on the grill top and close the lid for a few minutes to cook. The dough should have slight grill marks and start to brown just a little, don't let it go too far it is only half done when you take it off the grill. To do that grab the edge with tongs and pull off the grill onto an inverted baking sheet and return to your floured surface cooked side up. Splash a little Olive Oil onto your crust then add the pizza sauce as much as you like I used a little more than half of what I made. Add any toppings that you like, we (you can see the little hands that obviously aren't mine) used mini pepperoni and Italian sausage. Then topped with cheese, this is a five cheese blend. Slide the pizza back onto the grill top and cover for about 10 minutes, check a few times it is done when it looks like pizza, melty cheese that is slightly brown at the edges with bits of tipping poking through.

I put it on the only pan in our house big enough to hold it and cut. You can tell it is different from an oven baked pizza right away you can hear the crunch of the crust as you cut it and get just a hint of smokey aroma from the pizza as you serve it.

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