Mostly Grilled Pizza

Note: before embarking on the adventure of grilled pizza, one should always ensure they have enough propane to last through the entire cooking process.  You’ll likely burn through a fair bit, and if your tank is low, you’ll likely run out mid-cooking.  Just sayin’.

Last night Curtis and I decided to make grilled pizza for supper.  This is the second time that we’ve tried this process and we were hoping to improve on the technique based on lessons learned last time.

Why grill pizza?  Because it’s better than firing up the oven inside during the heat of summer!  The grill also adds a great smoky flavour to the crust that just can’t be achieved in the oven.

While Curtis biked down to the grocery store for toppings, I got started on the dough.  I’ve only ever used one recipe for pizza dough, and I think it’s just perfect.  The recipe comes from the “America’s Test Kitchen Family Cookbook” and is very simple to make up.  The recipe has only 5 ingredients: flour, instant yeast, salt, olive oil and water.  Does water even count as an ingredient?

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I recently picked up some Sunny Boy flour at the local Safeway.  I was very pleased that it’s both organic and local (milled in Camrose).  Check out how creamy and natural-looking this flour is.

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This is the flour, salt and yeast hanging out in the bowl together.  The Sunny Boy flour looked, smelled, felt, and worked up differently than a regular white flour.  In short, it was wonderful to work with.

But back to the pizza…..while the dough was rising, I prepped the toppings.

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The dough recipe makes enough for 3 10-12″ pizzas so we made a fresh tomato and basil with basil from my container garden, a hawaiian with grilled pineapple, and a barbecue chicken with some leftover chicken breast.  If you’ve never grilled pineapple before, I encourage you to try.  It caramelizes and becomes extra sweet, while the tangy and tart flavours are tamed.

For this to work, you want to preheat the barbecue to a smokin’ hot temperature.  Somewhere around the face-melting level (500 degrees F).

Stretch out your dough to a fairly thin crust and brush one side with olive oil.  You’ll notice Curtis is doing this on the back of a cookie sheet.  This high-tech device is essential to grilled pizza success, as you’ll soon see.

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Once you have one side of the pizza well-coated in olive oil, put the dough on the grill with the oiled side down.  At this point, it’s easiest to just pick up the dough and flip it on to the grill.

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Now close the lid and let the dough “bake” for about 3-6 minutes.  You can peek.  In fact, I encourage some peeking to avoid charred crust.

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This is what the crust will look like after a few minutes on the grill.  At this point, pull the crust off, place it on the back of your cookie sheet, and close the grill lid to keep it hot.

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Now you want to put your toppings onto the already grilled side of the crust.  As you can see here, we ended up with a little bit of charred crust because I made Curtis wait an extra minute so I could get my camera which I left inside.  Also, Curtis didn’t peek at the grilling crust.

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Load up that crust with all the toppings you want.  Keep in mind that you don’t want a terribly heavy load of toppings, as the crust is on the thin side.  Once you have all your toppings on, open the grill and slide the pizza back on to the  011

Close the lid and let it cook for another 3-5 minutes, just long enough to toast the bottom of the crust and heat the toppings.  When you declare it done, pull it off the grill using your cookie sheet.

The tomato and basil pizza had come off the grill and the second crust had just gone on when Curtis came back into the house and informed me that he had run out of propane.  We had to quickly throw the pizza stone into the oven and switch cooking methods for the last two pizzas.

When all was said and done, we dug into a delicious meal of the tomato and basil pizza…..

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…..Hawaiian with grilled pineapple and fresh oregano from the garden…..

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…..and barbecue chicken with caramelized onions.

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Even though the grilling didn’t quite work out for us this time, the upside is that next time we’ll be grilling with a full tank of propane!

We also got to taste the grilled and baked crusts side-by-side to compare the two methods.  The grill provides a crisper, smokier crust, but the crust is not always evenly browned/charred (as seen in our first crust above).  The pizza baked on the stone had an evenly brown crust that was slightly chewier, due to the slower baking.  Thanks to a great dough recipe and yummy toppings, it was all delicious!

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