I have seen people grilling pizzas on cooking shows for ages, but it seemed pretty intimidating... until I tried it. I've been making pizza at home for years, and always just used my oven and it would turn out okay. But not great. And then I grew some balls and decided to head out to the grill.
There are a ton of benefits to doing pizza this way. 1) You can get your grill way hotter than your oven, usually. Ovens don't like being 500- 600 degrees... but a grill will do just fine. 2) It cuts back on the cooking time by a lot, since you can cook it so much hotter. 3) You will not heat up your kitchen, which this summer especially, is a pretty big deal. Even if you make pizza in the winter, having your oven so high for so long makes you feel like you're in a sauna.4) Making your pizza yourself means that you can completely customize it to you... for example, I can't eat real cheese (I know, seriously, it's the worst.) so I can just make that substitution without some teenage kid on the other end of the telephone line messing it up. And kids love putting their own toppings on, too. They are way more excited to eat their veggies if they can add it to a pizza themselves. 5) (And most important) It gives your pizza a super amazing flavor that you just can't replicate. You get nice blackened grill marks, and the edges get a bit burnt and yummy... sounds weird, I suppose, for a pizza crust, but really is ideal. Trust me!!
Step 1: Start by Making Some Dough.
Making your dough is awesome. But it is time consuming, so if you don't have that much time, totally buy either frozen balls of pizza dough if you can find it, or I bet if you went to your local pizza place and enticed them with some $$, they would give you some. But here's what I use:
- One packet of quick-rise yeast
- One cup of warm water, plus a few tablespoons as needed
- A pinch of sugar
- 3 1/3 cups of flour, either all purpose or whole wheat. Both work. (In the pictures, I used whole wheat)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 Tablespoons Olive oil.
- Pour your packet of yeast into the warm water. Add a pinch of sugar (the yeast feeds on this, it sounds silly, but the happier you make those little yeasty friends, the more bubbly and good your dough will be) and let it sit for about 10 minutes, until it's foamy. Make sure that your water is not too hot, usually I just get it as close to body temperature as I can.
- In a large bowl add your flour and salt. Add in your oil and yeast/water, and mix it with a hand mixer until it's totally combined and starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl and clump together into one big clump. If it seems a bit dry, add some water little by little... don't go crazy. It's easier to add a little more water than somehow take it out.
- Roll it out onto a floured surface and knead for about 4-5 minutes. Go until it's pretty elastic and smooth.
- Form the dough into a large ball, and place it in a bowl that has some olive oil in it. Oil the top of the dough, too, and place it in a warm spot with a towel over it. In the winter, I may turn the oven on warm and stick it in there, but since it's August, you can set it pretty much anywhere.
- I usually let this rise for about an hour or so, and then knead it once more. When I knead it this time, though, I usually work in a ton of minced garlic. I've also put in basil and chopped up sundried tomatoes... all very good ideas.
- Once that's kneaded and good, I divide it into two balls, and cover them in oil. Then I throw them right back in the bowl I had them rising in before (if they are both covered in oil they won't really stick to each other) and let it go for an hour in a warm spot.
Step 2: Roll Out Your Dough
Once your dough is ready, start heating up your grill. I use a propane grill, so it just takes a few minutes to get nice and hot... but charcoal would work just as well, but you may want to get it started and hot a bit earlier.
To roll out your dough, take one of the risen balls of dough, and place it on a floured surface. I usually start by rolling it with a rolling pin, and then pick it up and toss it around on my hands a bit to stretch it out. I am, I will admit, pretty darn terrible at this... I don't think I've ever made a circular pizza in my life, and if I get through this step with no giant holes I'm pretty darn lucky. But, all in all, as long as you don't have holes and it's a consistent thickness, you're good. Sometimes tasty food looks funny. :)
Step 3: Getting Your Crust Onto the Grill
I use a wooden pizza peel to put it on the grill, but you could also use the back of a backing sheet. I sprinkle some cornmeal on the peel so that the dough won't stick to the wood... just enough to help it get off, though, I don't really want that much left on the dough when it cooks.
To actually get it in the grill is sort of tricky, and I've certainly gotten better with practice. I tend to do it as fast as possible mainly because the grill is SO hot by now, and it seems the slower I go about it, the more room for error. I pretty much use my pizza peel to just smack it on the grill... just try to keep your hands out of the heat as much as you can.
Once you get it actually on the grill, I poke my dough a bunch of times with a fork so that it doesn't form huge gas bubbles as it cooks... that makes things difficult when you go to put on toppings.
Close the lid to the grill and let it cook for just a few minutes... it doesn't take long. You pretty much want to cook just the side on the grill, not all the way through... that will come later. When it has a good char on it, pull it off, and flip it cooked side up on your pizza peel, because it's topping time!
Step 4: Topping Time
Now it's topping time. You want to put all of your toppings on the cooked side... you'll put this all back onto the grill to cook the bottom and melt the cheese.
An important thing to remember is that this is going to be on the grill for a lot less time than in the oven, so the toppings you put on aren't going to get super cooked. Like if you put raw onions on, they are still going to be pretty darn raw when you pull it out, not soft and cooked like when you order a pizza from a restaurant. So if you want something cooked, it may be a good idea to cook it separate.
What we usually do is take some olive oil, put in some minced garlic, and nuke it for about 30 seconds... this makes the oil super garlicy and yummy. This we'll brush on first, and then add the sauce. I usually make my own, and you can find instructions to that here: https://www.instructables.com/id/Homemade-Garden-Pizza-Sauce/
From there it's sort of whatever you want. We usually let the kids do a pizza, and then have a grown up pizza... so I'll chop up some green peppers pretty thin, some tomatoes, and some turkey pepperoni, and I'll just put them in bowls for the kids to put on themselves. The grownups had pretty much the same thing, but with a LOT of carmalized vidalia onions. We've also put sauteed zucchini and squash on, too, and it was awesome.
Once you've got your toppings on, add your cheese. Now you're ready to go back out to the grill!
Step 5: Back to the Grill
Very carefull put it back on the grill.. it usually isn't as hard now, since the crust is more solid. Close the lid, and give it just a few minutes... it doesn't take long. Go pretty much until you've charred the bottom crust, and the cheese is good and melty.
Enjoy your pizza!