It’s still summer, which means that we’re still in the middle of grilled pizza season. While I’ve posted (many times) about pizza, it’s been a while since I’ve done anything more than brag about new toppings and post pictures of my latest creations. The pizza that I made a few days ago was so good, that I thought I would take this opportunity to remind you of my step-by-step instructions for grilled pizza (without a pizza stone), and give you my five simple tips for making delicious grilled pie!
Here we go:
1. – So Fresh (and so clean)
The more fresh (and clean) your basic ingredients are, the better your pizza will be. This is a very simple rule, and one that you should actually follow for most things you cook.
In this case, making simple choices like making your own sauce, using mozzarella fresca instead of pre-shredded cheese in a bag, and finding fresh, bright and vibrant vegetables and spices, will make huge differences in the flavor of your final product.
2. – Pizza like Paris Hilton (THIN and SIMPLE)
THIN: I’m morally averse to thick-crusted pizza, especially the kind that they serve at most fast-food style pizza restaurants. Crust thicker than a half inch tends to have a doughy, almost sponge-like consistency, and overwhelms the texture and flavor of each bite. I’m not (by any means) encouraging you to ignore the benefits of quality dough. Quite the opposite, in fact. Good dough should by pliable and easy to roll-out, but tender and (in the case of grilled pizza) just the right amount of crusty when cooked. Thin dough will ensure an even cook on the grill, and allow you plenty of room to spread out your ingredients.
Which brings us to SIMPLE: Given that you’re choosing to grill rather than bake your pizza, you have to pay attention to the fact that the heat is being applied to your food from a single direction only. This bottom-up cooking is a wonderful way to give your crust a nice crunch, but not the best way to ensure even cooking of pizza-toppings. As such, using fewer ingredients will allow you greater control.
For example, many of my former creations have been interesting, sometimes overwhelming, amalgams of various ingredients. Take the two pizzas I posted about here: Two Grilled Pizzas!
They were delicious, but the six or more ingredients on each pizza made for LONG grill times, and inconsistent cooking.
The pizza below, on the other hand, had only four ingredients, placed in even layers, and made for easy, consistent grilling.
3. – Flip it! (flip it good)
This pointer comes as a result of A LOT of trial and error with grilled pizza methods and recipes. I spent a few summers not flipping the dough on the grill, and the results were… good. The dough – as long as I rolled it out enough – was still tender, but many of the more watery ingredients would soak into the ungrilled top of the crust, which would give the final product a more chewy consistency. Grilling both sides eliminates this problem, and gives the crust a uniform, pleasant crispiness.
4. – Slow and Low (that is the tempo)
As you can imagine (or possibly, as you’ve experienced), it’s pretty easy to burn grilled pizza. The slather of olive oil, the potential inconsistency of your grill temperatures, and the beer in your hand could all contribute to overcooking.
So here’s the tip: Turn the heat down low, and pay attention. Once I preheat the grill and apply the nonstick coating (grill spray or oil) I make sure to turn the heat to medium-low.
I like to start with the range mid-low, because it gives me room to turn it down more, and I’ve learned the hard way that you DO NOT want to increase the heat when the dough is on the grates.
All you have to do after that is be mindful of your food. Use a spatula to lift a corner and check the color of the dough. If your grill is like mine (hotter on one side) you may need to rotate the pizza partway through.
5. – Get it Hot, Hot, Hot!
The final tip- which I’ve only just started practicing – is to finish the pizza in the broiler. I only started doing this because I was trying to grill a pizza on one cold, windy day in the winter, and the grill just wasn’t getting hot enough. I popped the (nearly) cooked pizza under the broiler, and voila! The result was a crisp, delicious grilled pizza with some golden-brown bubbly cheese on top (an element of grilling ‘za that I had yet to find a method for).
This may seem like a cheat… but who cares?
So what are you waiting for? Get grilling!