It has been so hot that I’ve been dreading making dinner every night. I don’t want to go anywhere near the stove or oven, and there are only so many salads a person can eat. I had a hankering for pizza the other night, and I decided I’d try to throw it on the grill to see what would happen. I’m happy to report that what happened was nothing short of two delicious pizzas that had a little bit of a “wood fired” taste to them, even though they came off of a propane grill. Grilling pizza is a little different. First, the dough is cooked on the grill, removed onto a cookie sheet, topped with your favorite things, and then put back on the grill to finish cooking. This method was surprisingly easy, and I can’t wait to do it again!
Homemade pizza is incredibly inexpensive and so much more delicious than any takeout. In Chicago, you pay anywhere from $15 – $20 for one large thin crust pizza with two toppings. Aside from sauce and cheese, we put on four different toppings for a fraction of the cost.
A few really important things to remember about this recipe and technique: 1) Heat your grill up really well and maintain the temperature. You need your grates to be hot enough to cook the dough quickly and prevent it from sticking. 2) Oil the grates. Use a small bowl with a folded-up paper towel to rub some olive oil on the grates before you throw the dough on. It’ll not only prevent sticking, it’ll also add nice color and flavor. 3) Take your time! Don’t feel like you have to rush with the dough on the grill. I had some wiggle room with moving it around since I had oiled the grates. Same goes for putting the toppings on.
I used my very favorite pizza dough recipe, and I am going to take a deep breath and hope that you keep reading after I tell you who I got it from: GUY FIERI. Yeah, I know. He wears his sunglasses on the back of his head and says “MONEY!” and “Flavor Town!” But his pizza dough is just perfect, guys, I swear. Even when I make pizza in the oven, I use this dough. It never fails.
I make all of my pizza dough in my KitchenAid mixer with the dough hook attachment. You can also make pizza dough in a food processor just as easily. If you don’t have either one, don’t despair! You can mix and knead this by hand, but it will take a while. Whatever method you end up using, you want to end up with a soft, pliable ball of dough that isn’t sticky. It should stretch and relax easily. My biggest complaint about store-bought pizza dough is that it’s always so over-mixed that it’s like trying to stretch out a rock. Don’t do that to your pizza dough! Once you see that it’s come together in a solid ball that isn’t sticking to the sides of the bowl, it’s done. You can take it out of the mixer/processor and knead it a COUPLE times by hand, at most. Don’t work that gluten too much!
Make your dough a few hours ahead, prep a few other things ahead of time and you’ll have dinner together in no time. You can also freeze this dough for up to a month. Defrost overnight in the fridge before using. For grilled pizza, it’s better to divide the dough into at least two pizzas, because you’ll be handling them more than an oven pizza. Four would be even easier to work with, and so on.
Since we bought a six-pack of our Shelf Staple for this month, we again had Modus Hoperandi with the grilled pizza. The hops and piney bitterness of MH cut through the spiciness and fat of the pepperoni and cheese we used as some of our toppings.
IPA and pizza is pretty much a classic combination. Another one of my favorite local IPAs for pairing with pizza is Spiteful Brewing Spiteful IPA. It is everything you want in a beer for this type of food! Kind of bitter, crrrrrisp, a little sweet, intensely tropical and fruity. It’s perfect.
(Guys, it's called Prime-Time Pizza Dough from Guy Fieri. Don't hate me, okay?)
1 cup warm water (110 degrees F)
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon dry active yeast
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the bowl
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 ½ cups all purpose flour
cornmeal and flour for dusting cookie sheets
Toppings used - You can use what you like!
Mozzarella + Provolone cheese, shredded
Parmesan cheese, grated
Baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced
Pepperoni, thin sliced
Green Peppers, thin sliced
Red onions, thin sliced
In a medium glass or ceramic bowl, dissolve the sugar in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let bloom for 10 – 15 minutes until it gets foamy.
Add into the bowl of your mixer, add olive oil and salt and turn the machine on low to stir. Add flour ½ cup at a time on medium low until all flour is combined. Knead on medium until the dough becomes soft and elastic, forms a solid ball around the dough hook and no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. I usually under-knead it a bit in the machine. Take it out onto a floured surfaced and knead by hand a few times, until the dough is no longer sticky and looks smooth and soft.
Pour a couple teaspoons of olive oil into a large clean bowl and put the dough ball in there. Turn it over a couple of times to coat it in the oil. This keeps it from drying out. Cover with plastic wrap and a towel. Set in a warm spot to proof for at least 1 hour, or until the dough doubles in size.
For the grilled pizza, we made two thin pizzas. Separate the dough into two balls. Stretch and pat each dough ball out on a floured surface until they’re as thick and big as you want them to be. Ours were about 12X16 or so—maybe a little smaller.
Dust the BACK of two cookie sheets with flour and cornmeal. Put the pizza dough on the backs of these and head to the grill!
Bring all of your desired toppings with you to the grill, if you can. If not, you can bring your pizza dough back inside to add the toppings and then take it back out to grill.
The toppings are easy to prepare while your dough is proofing and rising. We used red sauce, shredded mozzarella and provolone, pepperoni, green peppers, baby Portobello mushrooms, and red onions. Use any toppings you want!
Preheat your grill to 475F.
Once it’s well heated, use a rolled-up paper towel dipped in oil to coat the grates. This will prevent the dough from sticking.
Once everything is nice and hot, slide your naked dough carefully onto the grill. It should be hot enough to begin cooking almost immediately. Close the lid. Check it after about 5-6 minutes by opening the grill and checking the underside. You might have some bubbles on top already, or you might not. The dough will char a little on the bottom.
Cook the dough until it is easy to handle and remove from the grill—about 8 minutes maximum. It doesn’t need to be fully cooked yet! You can flip it if you are feeling adventurous or if you have made smaller pizzas that are easier to maneuver, but don’t worry about the top being fully cooked at this point. You’ll put the pizza back on the grill once you’ve added the toppings, and it will finish cooking then. The two bigger ones we made were not going to be easy to flip, so we refrained.
When the dough is ready, take it off the grill and slide it back onto your cookie sheets. Bring to your toppings station and have at it! I would just caution against using a lot of sauce, because you want to keep the integrity of the dough—no sogginess for the grill.
Once you’ve got your toppings in place, slide those babies back on the grill and close the cover. It took about another 8 – 10 minutes for the toppings to cook through and the cheese to bubble up nicely. Remove, let the pizzas rest for just a moment, and then slice and eat them up.
Enjoy and grill your pizza often!