For those of you suffering from lactose intolerance, I have no solution that will prevent pizza from giving you gas. However, I’d like to suggest that if you give your pizza some gas first (i.e. via your gas grill) you’ll agree that the digestive discomfort is WORTH IT!
I’d never even eaten grilled pizza but when I saw Alton Brown grill some up on his show, I was smitten with the idea of trying it myself. Although, I have to admit that I was a little scared. If this worked, I could add another recipe to my rather short list of “things I grill good.” If it did not, I imagined I’d end up with a molten pile of cheese and dough seeping through the grates and burning down in the bottom of my grill as I stood helpless on the patio crying and waving my grill tools around ineffectively as the neighbors all laughed and pointed.
I put on my brave face and I went to work. The first thing I had to do was head over to my local kitchen supply store and buy a pizza peel. If you don’t have one, don’t stop reading yet. You can use a cookie sheet that has no sides or even just flip a regular cookie sheet upside down. See, now you have no excuse. If you plan to buy one there’s no need to buy the expensive one. I bought the $10 one and it worked just fine. (Note, buy a pizza peel from whatever retailer you like best, the one I linked to happens to be the one I bought but trust me when I assure you that my loyalty on this particular store/product is only dictated by “Who gives me more coupons” and not by quality and certainly not because anyone is paying me to recommend their products. After all, only about 20 people read this blog so no one is paying me anything…seriously.)
Step two was the grocery store but even though I put it on my (mental) list, I forgot to buy the malted barley syrup that Alton’s recipe called for…and I don’t even know for sure that my chain mega-mart of preference even carries such a thing. When I realized my flub I turned to Google for assistance. Turns out molasses is an acceptable substitute according to some person with access to the internet somewhere in the world and seeing as I had molasses on hand, I was more than willing to presume that this random internet poster was a credible source.
So, the following recipe is not mine, it is Alton’s. You can link to it here but for your ease, I’ve copied the ingredients for you.
- 16 ounces all-purpose flour, plus extra for peel and rolling
- 1 envelope instant or rapid rise yeast
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 10 ounces warm water, approximately 105 degrees F
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus 2 teaspoons for bowl
- 1 tablespoon malted barley syrup (I substituted molasses)
Now if you watch Alton regularly, you know he’s a “by weight” guy and not a “by volume” guy. Since he’s my favorite Food Network star and I want to grow up to be just like him but with boobs and long red hair, I actually own a food scale and I did measure my flour by weight.
I pulled out an envelope of yeast and ran into a hiccup. My envelope did not say whether it was rapid rise yeast or not. I puzzled. I considered googling but then I realized that the yeast expired just over 2 years ago. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s bad (but might not provide adequate leavening) but I had this nice jar of yeast that wasn’t expired and also clearly said “Rapid Rise” right on the front of the jar. So, I checked the weight listed on the front of the expired envelope and then used my food scale to measure out the same amount of my unexpired yeast. Crisis averted but let this be a lesson to you, check expiration dates before you go to the grocery store.
Alton’s instructions are basically to add everything to the work bowl of my stand mixer and use the dough hook to bring it together at low-speed. Then to knead it, you crank the speed up to medium. However, my dough seemed to cling to the hook in the same way that Lindsay Lohan clings to fine jewelry that isn’t hers. So, I stop the mixer, slide the dough off the hook and try again. That dough wrapped itself around that hook faster than a fat kid makes it into a buffet line. The problem is that the dough hook just sort of swung the dough around without really kneading it against the side of the bowl. I tried going a little faster, a little slower but couldn’t seem to get the mixer to knead the dough. So, I decided just to hand knead it.
Then I oiled a glass bowl, dropped my dough ball in there, turning it to coat it in oil and covered it with plastic wrap. I set it up on top of the fridge with Clive to rise.
After an hour of rising, I split the dough into what was supposed to be 3 equal pieces but for an engineer, I surely do not have a good grasp on spatial relationships.
Then Alton wants you to sort of roll them around on the board to tighten the “skin” of the dough. You do this by kind of turning the edges of the dough under and then “scooting” the dough in a circular fashion on the board so that the top of your ball starts to kind of tighten up. Then I covered them with a towel to rest for 45 minutes.
In the mean time, I had to deal with the tomatoes. Instead of using sauce, Alton cuts up some tomatoes, tosses them with oil, salt, pepper and garlic and then grills them. Once they’re cooked on the grill, he sort of mashes them on the pizza that’s cooking to make the sauce.
I should provide a disclaimer here. I hate raw tomatoes. I will tolerate them in salsa and I love tomato sauces but the consistency of a tomato that hasn’t been pulverized into submission makes me cringe. So, I had NO IDEA how to cut up a tomato. I’m not kidding. I didn’t know if you could keep the little bits on where the stem came out or not so I just sliced it up and then cut out the very top and bottom where the stem was and hoped it wouldn’t kill anyone.
After the dough is done “resting” I started the process of making it into a pizza shape. Now this being my very first time making pizza dough, I used my rolling-pin to start. But I found that this dough is really springy and just kind of sucks back up to a smaller size. So, I ended up stretching it out by holding up the flattened disk by the edge and working my way around letting the weight of the dough stretch it out. Then I’d lay it down and use my hands to push the dough from the center out towards the edges. It seemed to work better than the rolling-pin. I tore the dough a few times so I just pinched those places back together with my fingers.
I decided to make my pizza with shredded mozzarella, onions, and pepperoni so I got these ingredients ready and preheated the grill to high. I also prepared a ramekin of olive oil and got my pastry brush.
So, move one disk of pizza dough to your pizza peel and reshape if necessary. You may need a little flour on the peel so the dough doesn’t stick but my dough wasn’t very sticky. Then use a pastry brush to oil the top of your dough with a light layer of olive oil. Do not top your pizza with your toppings.
Take your dough outside, open your preheated grill and make sure your grill grates are clean. Then flip the pizza dough directly onto the grates right over the heat so it’s oil side down. Then put the tomatoes onto the grill next to your pizza, close the lid, and don’t wander too far. In about 2 minutes the bottom of the dough will be golden brown but trust me, you can cook it to your liking. If you like a chewy pizza, just cook a few minutes. I left mine on a little longer because I like a crispy crust. Once the crust is done on one side, slip your peel under it and pull it off the grill, use your pastry brush to oil the raw side and then flip it back onto the grill uncooked side down.
Now you top your pizza. The idea is that the tomatoes should be cooked enough now that you stick a couple on the pizza while the bottom side cooks and use a spatula or fork to “smoosh” them into a sauce. I found that this kind of cracked the crispy little bits that I love on the cooked side of the crust so I ended up pulling the tomatoes onto a cutting board, smashing with forks, and then smearing onto the crust using a spatula. Worked much better.
Once the tomatoes were on the crust, I added cheese, onions, and pepperoni and closed the grill lid. I left my grill on high because it’s not a very expensive grill and tends to not get all that hot and I needed the cheese to melt (I like REALLY cheesy pizza) before the bottom of the crust burned.
After about 4 minutes my grill had managed to melt the cheese and the bottom of the crust was perfectly crunchy.
My neighbors were outside in their backyard and needed some food to soak up some of the alcohol they’d been drinking all day and what better guinea pigs for pizza than drunk people? So, I took one of the three pizzas over to them and it got rave (albeit slurred) reviews. So, we’re adding this to the “things I grill good” list.
I hope you try it, you’ll think twice before you order pizza delivery again. And while I haven’t tried it, I hear pizza dough freezes well so you could make the dough in advance and keep it in the freezer until you’re ready to use it.
Next time I use onions, I might consider lightly sauteing them first because the pizza wasn’t really on the grill long enough to soften them much. So, if you’re using veggies on your pizza keep in mind the short cooking time and if necessary pre-cook them a little if you don’t like them pretty crunchy. I also recommend you go light on the meat (only pre-cooked meats, the pizza isn’t on the grill long enough to cook them) because based on reviews I read of grilled pizza, the more meats you add, the more likely that your grilled pizza crust will get soggy from the grease the meats give up.
So, are you going to try it? What toppings will you use?