Thursday, July 14, 2016

How We Made Pizza on the Grill

Our adventures in making pizzas on the grill.  A freshly grilled pizza, cooking on the pizza stone, on the grill.Pizza meets grill!

I know, this is a blog about art.  What is a pizza recipe doing here?!  I figure, art is everywhere.  Artists have got to eat, right?  I enjoy cooking and making the food look appealing is important.  Sometimes, we see beauty in the everyday like a golden brown cheese topped pizza.  There's nothing like a homemade pizza!

I get adventurous from time to time.  It's worth the risk.  Experiments like this make for great family time, too.  One of our favorite weekend meals is pizza with our favorite toppings.  Recently, I was thinking on what to make for our family.  It was a hot day and I didn't want to use the oven.  With what I had on hand and the spinach in the garden, I wanted to attempt pizza on the grill.  We had not tried this before.  Ever.  I knew there was a chance it may not turn out well.  We decided to try anyway.  It works and the pizza tastes like it came from a stone oven at a pizzeria.  I have a tried-and-true pizza dough recipe and I'm happy to share!  The dough takes no time to mix up and is kneaded well by the mixer.  While the dough rests, I open a few cans and marinara is soon warming on the stove.  I really don't have a recipe for the marinara.  I can share my method but it's not exact in any way.  Let's get started!

It all began on a hot summer day...

I searched for tips on google to learn what would work best.  After a bit of reading and video watching,  I decided I'd like to use a pizza stone and parchment paper.  

When I make pizza at home in my oven, I preheat the oven to 400 or 450 degrees Fahrenheit.  To prepare to bake pizza in the oven, I turn a baking sheet upside down, lay a piece of parchment paper on top, sprinkle a bit of cornmeal and then transfer the stretched pizza dough to the top.  That method works really great for us.  

A great video (linked here) for preheating the pizza stone on the grill helped me get started.  The video demonstrates preheating the grill and pizza stone.  The pizza stone is placed on the grill.  The heat is turned to low for 5 minutes, then medium for 5 minutes, and then finally high heat for 5 minutes.  I think this is important to protect the pizza stone from cracking with quick temperature changes.  I decided I'd like to use the parchment paper as a way of transferring the pizza to the pizza stone on the grill.  After making four pizzas in this way, we believe the parchment paper protects the pizza crust from cooking too fast, preventing burning.  I do not think the cornmeal is necessary for making the pizza on the grill.

Supplies needed:

Pizza stone
Parchment paper
Ingredients for pizza dough or pre-made pizza dough
Metal tongs
Large spatula
A large cutting board or other surface to transfer pizza from the grill/pizza stone

Parchment paper trimmed an inch smaller diameter than pizza stone.
Trimming the parchment paper to be sure it will not hang over the edges of the pizza stone.

Cut a sheet of parchment paper about an inch smaller diameter than the pizza stone.  Set the parchment paper aside until you are ready to build the pizza.

So now the pizza stone (set the parchment paper aside on the kitchen counter for now) is set on the grill, the lid is closed, and the preheating begins.  Like I explained before: 5 minutes on low, 5 minutes on medium, 5 minutes on high.  Notice that the parchment paper is NOT on the pizza stone at this point.

Pizza stone resting on grill to begin preheating process.  Making pizza on the grill with a pizza stone.
Pizza stone set on grill for preheating process.

Once the preheating is done, the pizza can be placed on the pizza stone.  Lay the prepared pizza on the parchment paper and transfer this to the pizza stone waiting on the grill.  Close the lid.  Set a timer for 5 minutes.  Check the pizza, turn carefully with tongs if cooking unevenly front to back.  Close the lid.  Set the timer for another 5 minutes.  The pizza should be ready after a full 10 minutes cooking time.  If it is not, stay close by and check every 2 minutes.  To remove from the grill and pizza stone, turn off grill first and then take tongs or spatula and slide to a large cutting board or another large pan.  Let the pizza rest 5 minutes before cutting into slices.  Turn the grill back on if you have additional pizzas to be grilled.

Caution:  If any parchment paper comes in contact with the flame, you may have a burnt crust.  We know.  It happened with our second pizza.  My husband quickly pulled the paper from under the pizza to save it from the flame.  The crust cooked much faster then and did have a burnt underside.  Trim the parchment paper first and you'll have better results.  Stay near and watch closely, checking every 2 - 3 minutes toward the end.

A pizza is being transferred to a preheated pizza stone on the grill.

Pizza is positioned in center of pizza stone on grill.

Pizza after the first 5 minutes on grill. Close grill lid.  Set timer for 5 more minutes.

That's all there is to making pizza on the grill!  We loved the flavor so much, we made pizza two nights in a row.  It takes a little practice and though it may not turn out perfectly your first time, I really encourage you to be adventurous.

If you're interested in trying a new pizza dough recipe, I've got one I'm excited to share!
With a basic list of ingredients and a ten minutes, you'll have freshly made pizza dough all ready to go.  I use my mixer to save my arms and wrists the strain, and have great results with the standard mixing attachment and the dough hook.  It is a pretty straight-forward recipe and making it by hand is not difficult.  At least once, I've layered it in the bread machine on the dough setting; it's a breeze to walk away and let the machine do all the work.

Ingredients set out on counter.  Party Pizza recipe ingredients: flour, salt, yeast, honey, warm water, olive oil.

After resting a few minutes, the yeast in warm water has turned foamy.
Yeast and warm water starting all the bubbly action.

The dough is mixed well and ready to rest while covered.
Dough mixed and ready to be formed into a ball before resting time.

The dough and bowl have been lightly coated with olive oil.  Plastic wrap covers the bowl.  It's rest time!
The bowl and dough lightly oiled is now resting with a piece of plastic wrap covering the bowl.

The dough has rested and now we are ready to shape it.
Resting time is done, the dough is ready to be shaped.

The dough has been split in two for forming pizzas.
The dough is divided for two pizzas.

One half of the prepared dough is sitting on a lightly floured surface.
I'm preparing to form the dough for the first pizza.

With a gentle touch, the dough is pressed and stretched to the desired size and thickness.
Gently press the dough, shaping it and giving it uniform thickness.

The stretched dough is set on the parchment paper.
The shaped pizza dough is laid on the piece of parchment paper.  It's ready for sauce and toppings!

With all toppings on the pizza, it's ready be taken to the grill.
The pizza is ready to be taken to the grill!


Party Pizza

A recipe from Prevention's Quick & Healthy Cooking, Fall 1993

1 1/4 oz. pkg. quick-rising active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp. equals one 1/4 oz. packet)
1 1/3 c. warm water
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
1 c. wheat flour
2-3 c. unbleached flour
(my addition, 1 Tbsp. honey)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit if using your oven.

1.  Mix yeast with warm water in large bowl; leave to sit a few minutes, until mixture becomes foamy.  
2.  Stir in the oil and salt.  (I add about 1 Tbsp. honey also.)
3.  Add wheat flour, mixing just enough to incorporate.  
     (You can use unbleached flour and omit the wheat flour, using a total amount of about 4 cups flour)
4.  Stir in enough unbleached flour to make a soft dough.  Knead 10 minutes, adding flour as needed.
     (I turn my mixer up on a higher speed with the regular mixing attachment for about 3-5 minutes.)
5.  Form the dough into a ball.  Drizzle olive oil into the bowl.  Using hands, spread oil evenly to coat inside of bowl.                 Coat the dough lightly with oil and cover with plastic wrap or a lid.  Let dough rest for 15 minutes.
6.  Shape the dough on a lightly floured surface to the your preferred thickness.  I usually aim for 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick.            It will rise while baking.  Shape into 16 individual pizzas or 2 medium size pizzas.
7.  Lay the cookie sheet upside down.  Lay the trimmed parchment paper on the backside of the cookie sheet.  (Sprinkle          with cornmeal, optional, keeps the crust from sticking.)  Lay the shaped pizza dough on the parchment paper and                 begin adding the sauce, toppings and cheese.
8.  Place cookie sheet with parchment paper and pizza on the middle rack in preheated oven.
     If using the oven, bake 10-12 minutes, checking at the halfway point.
     If grilling, transfer pizza on parchment paper to the pizza stone.
     Using tongs or large spatula, slide from the back of the cookie sheet to a large wood cutting board.
     Let rest for 5 minutes and then cut into slices.  Serves 8.


I want to show how I would prepare to bake the pizza in my oven.  I've gathered so many great ideas so this is a combination of all the tips I've read over the years.  It works so well!  My set up for baking a pizza in the kitchen oven looks like the photo below.  The cookie sheet is turned upside down.  A sheet of parchment paper is laid on the backside of the cookie sheet.  A sprinkle of cornmeal on the parchment paper keeps the dough from sticking to the paper.  It's now ready for the stretched, formed pizza dough to be placed on top.  I don't trim the parchment paper for use in the oven.  When baking in the oven, the pizza is prepared on this cookie sheet and then the whole thing (cookie sheet, parchment paper and pizza) goes into the preheated oven.

Baking sheet turned upside down, parchment paper cut to fit, and a sprinkle of cornmeal on the parchment paper.  Preparing to bake pizza in oven.

Here are my basic ingredients for a fast pizza sauce.  It takes very little time and can be altered for your own preferences.  The honey takes the edge off the tomato paste, giving it a milder flavor.

All the ingredients for pizza sauce are set out on the counter.

For the sauce:
1 large can tomato sauce (15 0z.)
1 small can tomato paste (6 oz.)
1/4 to 1/2 tsp. olive oil
1-2 teaspoons Italian seasoning blend
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
1 tsp. honey (optional, can use sugar instead)

1/2 - 1 tsp. ground fennel seeds (optional)

I don't really have a written recipe for homemade pizza sauce.  I am guessing conservatively for measurements.  If you like more garlic or pepper flake, go for it!  Sometimes, I add 1/2 tsp. of balsamic vinegar.  I warm this in a pan to help the flavors meld together.  It could be mixed in a bowl until the tomato paste is blended with the tomato sauce.  There's really no need for it to be warm before spreading on the pizza dough.  You could add more tomato paste for a thicker sauce.

Grinding the fennel seed with a mortar and pestle.
Grind the fennel seed before adding to the sauce.  A coffee grinder works well for this, too.

Crushed red pepper flake and minced garlic.
Crushed red pepper flakes and finely minced garlic ready to go in the sauce.

Pizza sauce in a pan warmed on the stove.

Our favorite toppings:
pepperoni slices
mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses
fresh spinach leaves
thinly sliced zucchini
artichoke from a jar
chopped onions
chopped or sliced green peppers

One adaptation worth trying is really just a take on the cheese pizza.  No sauce here though.  Instead, we begin with light drizzle of olive oil and a generous amount of garlic.  I've got a freezer bag of garlic chopped finely in the food processor.  The garlic is in the freezer and my prep time is much shorter.  Topped with mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, and basil, this one is ready for the grill!

Cheesy pizza placed on the preheated pizza stone.
Preheated pizza stone is ready!  The pizza goes on and the lid is closed.  Set the timer for 5 minutes.

Cheesy pizza after the first five minutes.
This is how it looks at the 5 minute mark.  Set the timer for 5 more minutes.

The cheesy pizza transferred from grill to large cutting board.
After the second 5-minutes have passed, it's ready to be transferred to a cutting board.

The cheesy pizza is sliced and served on the large cutting board.  A side of extra sauce is served for dipping.
Pizza is sliced and ready to serve with warm pizza sauce for dipping.

Cheesy Garlic & Basil Pizza

Pizza dough
Olive oil
Minced garlic
Torn fresh basil leaves (dried basil flake will work)
Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese

1.  Pizza dough is stretched and placed on the parchment paper.  
2.  Drizzle olive oil over the pizza dough.  I'd use about 2-3 tsp. olive oil.
3.  Spread the minced garlic evenly on the dough.  (I use my hands.)
4.  Lay the fresh basil leaves on or could be added to top of cheese instead.
5.  Spread the grated or sliced mozzarella cheese.  Top with Parmesan cheese.
6.  Transfer to oven or grill and cook for about 10 minutes.
7.  Remove and allow to rest 5 minutes before cutting into slices.

So a lengthy and maybe hard to follow post on grilling a pizza comes to an end!
This one is for Granny Bev, because she asked for me to share so it could be pinned.  Anything for Granny Bev!  In case you didn't notice, I tend to go a little bit overboard.  Maybe it's my teaching background.  Maybe it's my love of visuals and photography.  Maybe I love sharing.  I'm just like that, I guess.  If I left anything out or there's any confusion, please ask away.  I wish I'd taken more photos when I made the dough...but I had no idea it would become a blog post.  We made pizza again after shampooing the carpets and having furniture tightly cramped into the eating area off the kitchen.  I made the dough, camera at the ready, and stopped often to get another photograph as I worked.  More photos just make the whole explaining thing much better, in my own opinion.  I like a lot of visuals when learning something new!

Thanks for reading & I hope you didn't get lost anywhere along the way.

Let me know if you decide to try this...I'd love to hear about your adventures in pizza grilling.

-She must make art... and pizza.

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