Thursday, July 14, 2005

Cooking School: Grilled Pizza

Given the heat wave that some of us are experiencing now that summer is upon us (namely me, here, in Southern California), I thought that I would try my hand at some outdoor cooking this week. It's only logical: to avoid heating up your kitchen by cooking indoors, you just stand in front of a 500 degree grill outside where it's already hot. And not being one to bypass carbs, I decided to make grilled pizza this week.
Pizza dough is not something new to me. This particular recipe was given to me in class a few weeks ago. It makes a really soft dough. It isn't wet, but it is very flexible. This makes it very easy to handle and easy to roll out. I find that it is actually much easier to roll out the dough for a pizza when you begin making the dough yourself because it takes time to develop a feel for the dough. If you don't want holes, stick with rolling for a while.
I had no idea what to expect from grilling this dough. I heated up my BBQ - it's a gas grill - to high heat. I laid the dough down and after a couple of minutes on each side, it was done! Toppings have to be put on after the first side is grilled. Since they only get a brief cooking, it's best that you cook them in advance. Keep the amount of cheese on the low side, otherwise it won't melt. I topped one with corn, tomatoes, red peppers, onions, black beans and clilantro (above) and the other with sauce, mozzarella, chicken and sauteed onions and peppers (below).
The dough turned out to be very crisp and flakey. I would definately grill dough either as pizza or as an appetiser at a BBQ.

Grilled Pizza
Basic Pizza Dough
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (1 package)
1 cup warm water
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
Dissolve yeast in water and let sit for 5 minutes, until foamy. Stir in flour, olive oil and salt. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and knead until smooth, adding a bit of extra flour if necessary. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Grilling the Dough
When dough has risen, divide it into two pieces and roll them into balls. Cover with a dish towel and let the dough rest for 20 minutes. Turn up grill heat to high and prepare your toppings.
Roll dough out until it is quite thin. It will be thinner in the center than on the sides, but should be thin all over. Lay dough onto grill. It will probably stretch into a rectangle. Grill until the bottom is lightly browned, 2-3 minutes.

Carefully flip the dough over and place your toppings on the cooked side. If you're using cheese, turn the heat down a bit and shut the lid of your barbeque. Continue cooking for 3-4 minutes, until the dough is browned and crispy.
Transfer pizza to a large serving platter or cutting board and serve immediately.