How To: Grill Pizza & An Anniversary
You may have noticed that Brittany’s Pantry is now on facebook! Click on the link and ‘like’ the page for updates on what I’m cooking currently, extra tips and links, and of course quick access to new posts. A Flikr Photostream is also a new addition so feel free to click here to check out my journey to understanding photography!
I mostly want to thank all of you who have encouraged me through this project! I have had a wonderful year (even with of five bouts of pneumonia and remodeling the kitchen-and house-I am supposed to be cooking in for this blog) and I have learned a lot! Blogging is such an interesting medium to me and the outpouring of support from all of you, my readers, is greatly appreciated! So now onto the food. I know, I know. Get to the good stuff, right?
Toward the end of my college education, I found myself on an all but deserted campus in the middle of the summer; living alone, cramming through a chemistry class I had to take but really didn’t want to be in, working until dinner every day, and then coming home to an empty house. My roommates were out and about for the summer and my fiancee was stationed in Hawaii on a nuclear submarine. I was in central Wiscnsin, missing my man, my friends, and a house with better air conditioning. To fill in the voids of alone time, earn a few extra credits (and to break-up my daily post-suppertime Food Network marathons-I had just discovered cable) I signed up for a night class. Outdoor Grilling. Yup. My university offered classes like that. Cool, huh? It lasted for two weeks, started an hour after I got off work, and finished just as the sun went down. The students were split into groups, each group was given 3 or 4 recipes and all the ingredients to make them, and then we were turned loose! We all completed our recipes and then filled a table with the finished dishes, every member of the class getting a taste of every recipe from that day. I left stuffed to my ears every night. I ate steak salad for the first time in my life, grilled fruits and then doused them in homemade chocolate sauce, learned a bazillion different marinades-and learned how to grill pizza. With the exception of the chocolate sauce (that was seriously so good our group drank the leftovers), grilling pizza was far and away the most eye opening food we made. It was easy, quick, made with few ingredients and in my opinion, the best pizza I had ever had.
I still feel that way about grilled pizza. Like many foods, it just seems to taste better made outdoors. Since it requires you to work quickly, it forces you to keep it simple. Here’s how to do it!
One Year Ago: Basic Wheat Bread
1 lb pizza dough, purchased or homemade (see below for recipe)
roasted tomatoes, purchased or homemade (see below for recipe)
8 oz fresh mozzarella, sliced thin
1/4 c fresh basil, chopped
This recipe is adapted from my bread machine user manual. Awesome.
1 c warm water
2 T olive oil
1 T honey or sugar
1 tsp salt
1 c white whole wheat flour or whole wheat flour
1 1/2 c bread flour
1 tsp active dry yeast
Add ingredients in the order recommended by your bread machine and select the ‘dough’ cycle. Can be refrigerated overnight if needed or frozen for several months. Defrost in the fridge and let rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before using. Alternatively, mix all ingredients together in a large bowl, turn out onto a floured surface and knead gently until smooth and elastic, 8-10 minutes. Put the dough back in the bowl and drizzle with just a bit of olive oil, turning the dough so that it doesn’t stick. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. Punch down and proceed with recipe.
Adapted from Ina Garten
12 Roma tomatoes, halved and seeds scooped out
4 T olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp sugar
Salt and Pepper
Toss all ingredients together in a bowl and dump out onto a foil lined baking sheet. Arrange tomatoes cut side up and roast at 375 for 45 minutes to an hour, or until tomatoes are caramelized. Use immediately, chill for a few days, or seal in a plastic bag and freeze for several months. These are great on pizza, sandwiches, diced and tossed with pasta, orserved on a platter of antipasto.
So… Lightly dust a sheet pan with cornmeal-I like the crunch it gives the final pizza. Plop your lovely dough in the middle of the pan. Gently press into a large rectangle. The bigger you go, the thinner the crust. Just don’t go too thin or it will create holes when you put it on your grill and burn.
If the dough is so elastic that it just retracts back and won’t stretch out, let it rest for 10 minutes and try again. Brush both sides of the dough generously with olive oil. Actually, I just drizzle a bunch on and smear it around with my hands and then flip and do it again. DO NOT FORGET THIS STEP! It isn’t pretty trying to remove un-oiled dough from a grill. Make sure you have all your toppings ready. Carry the whole pan outside to your well cleaned grill. Turn the burners down to low or use indirect heat if using a charcoal grill. Carefully, so as not to tear the dough-but with conviction!- lay the dough directly on the grates of the grill, quickly straightening it out to the correct shape. Watch your fingers! Its hot! Close the lid and let ‘bake’ for 3-5 minutes. The underside should be lightly browned and the whole thing slightly puffed. Carefully, and with a heatproof spatula or whatever happens to work for you-no plastic please-FLIP! Immediately top with tomatoes. And basil. And then the mozzarella. Admire your handy work… …and close the lid! The other side has been baking since you flipped it so you want to add the toppings quickly and get it closed so that the cheese has time to melt before the crust is done cooking. Hence, the low heat and toppings ready to go! By the time the cheese has melted, just a minute or two, your crust should be nicely browned on the other side. See?! Melty, wonderful, gooey goodness. Very carefully, with a sheet pan, or large cutting board ready, slide the pizza off the grill. Be careful! My husband is somewhat of an expert at this… Phew! Take a deep breath and dig in!! Variations:
-Saute chopped mushrooms in a bit of butter.
-Finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
-Puree roasted tomatoes or purchased sundried tomatoes in olive oil in a food processor. Add olive oil to make it as thick or as thin as you want, as long as it is spreadable. Spread this in the bottom, and then top with basil and cheese. This is out of this world good!
-Shredded fontina melts well and is awesome with nothing more with it than fresh basil.
-Add finely diced pepperoni or browned and crumbled Italian sausage.
-Cheese (mozzarella or fontina or heck!-sliced brie is good too) and a sprinkle of dried oregano. This is especially good as an appetizer, cut into smaller strips.
Note: Fresh sliced tomatoes are good, but the excess water makes the crust soggy.