Since I’ve read Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day it has revolutionized my daily repertoire. I’m now able to product home baked bread at the drop of a hat (more-or-less…if the hat isn’t falling TOO fast). The book and it’s method is so simple and easy. I mix up a batch (the basic recipes are designed to make 4 one-pound loaves but can be halved or doubled easily). The dough can be used in a variety of ways: boules, ciabattas, baguettes and, perhaps most happily, pizza dough.
My dear husband’s favorite dinner is pizza. That’s what he says if asked. He doesn’t specify any particular toppings, crust, source or method. Just pizza. He’s endearing in his simplicity. That’s what I like to call it. Simplicity.
I’ve made (and bought) pizza for us in a variety of ways but recently I read about making pizza on the grill. Not directly on the grill (that would be a rather messy endeavor) but by placing a pizza stone directly on the grill, letting it heat and then baking the pizza. The difference between baking on a stone placed on the grill and one in the oven is that the grill can achieve much higher temperatures than the average home oven. So the stone gets much hotter and, because it’s stone, retains that high heat so your pizza dough gets a nice, crispy crust on the bottom.
Between the pre-prepared dough and the grill it’s a very easy meal in both preparation and clean-up. I pulled off a couple of hunks (approximately 1 pound each) off the mass that’s been in my refrigerator for about a week. I shaped each into pizza shapes. One was kind of square’ish and the other pretty round. The dough straight from the frig is a little reluctant to be stretched. I let it rest a couple of times but probably not long enough (maybe 5 minutes) so it didn’t stretch quite as evenly and compliantly as I would have liked. But, whatever. Square, round, triangle…it’ll still be pizza.
I’ve tried two different stones on the grill. Supposedly you should use a stone that has been specifically designed for being used on the grill. They don’t really look any different from the one I’ve been using in my oven for years but it’s always fun to buy stuff. One I got from Breadtopia and the other, a Mario Batali, from a local store, Great News. The Breadtopia one has a bit of a texture and comes in a metal tray. The stone goes on the grill in the tray. The other one comes with a pretty cool looking cast iron holder that you place on the grill and the stone goes on it. Apparently, you can’t place the stone directly on the grill or it will explode or something. I haven’t noticed a significant difference yet but I would say the Mario Batalio one seemed to get hotter and it looks a lot cooler. But they both worked fine.
My first endeavor (a couple of weeks ago) was a partial disaster. Nothing to do with the technique…just the cook. I prepared the dough and put the toppings on. All was ready. I was using a flimsy, plastic cutting board to prepare the dough but I hadn’t put much flour or cornmeal on it. I used the “board” to transfer the dough to the grill. Did I mention it was dark by now and I hadn’t yet gotten my handy solar-powered LED grill lamp. As I tried to shuffle the dough off the plastic thingy, it stuck some. Using a bench scraper I tried “encouraging” it but one corner kind of flipped under as the whole thing plopped onto the hot stone. Nice hot cheese now welded the dough to the stone. I let it cook and was able to scrape the cheese off the stone. After 10 minutes or so the dough (that was left) was done and I scraped the whole mess off the stone, onto a plate. It was actually pretty tasty albeit hideously mis-shapen.
Undaunted, I was trying again.
As mentioned the dough was shaped, rested and shaped some more. I added a simple topping of sliced tomatoes, sliced red sweet peppers and lots of cheese. On one it was all mozzarella and the other a mixture of white cheddar and mozarella (that was more of an accident because white cheddar looks a lot like mozzarella…just FYI). I used my Super Peel (which if you haven’t seen one or don’t have one…well, go get one…it’ll make your life much easier). They each cooked on the stone for about 10-12 minutes and came off the grill looking wonderful. Crust nicely crusty on the edges, crispy on the bottom. Cheese bubbling.
And my husband loved them. Really. I got “this is the best pizza I’ve ever had.” High praise. And well-deserved.