grilled pizza--a good idea?
A friend of mine just bought a spankin' new charcoal grill, and wants to make grilled pizza. Any tips? We found a recipe in NY magazine from the guy who runs Una Pizza Napolitana, in NYC, which seems like a good place to start. But we're a little worried about the dough sticking to the grill. Does this happen? Should we brush the grids with olive oil first? Any tips appreciated!
It's all over these days, but if you are curious enough to go back to where most pros consider the starting point then check out a slim book called Cucina Simpatica by Joanne Killeen and George Germon. They started doing the grilled pizza thing in their restaurant, Al Forno, in Providence, RI, back in the '80s. I used to eat there back in the early 90s and the pizzas were fantastic. It's my understanding that the place has since declined, which is a shame.
Anyway, as far as technique, my recollection is that the grill grate needs to be kept scrupulously clean/oiled. Also, you need to create "zones" with your coals so that you have a hot area and a cooler area and put the grate about 3-4 inches over the coals.
The ultra thin dough gets draped over the hot section for a minute or so, just until it gets some grill marks and starts to puff up and kind of stiffen. Then you flip it over onto the cool section. Then give it a quick brush with some olive oil and put on your toppings. It's been a while since I made them (years) but I remember them coming out much better if you only sparsely top the pies. They will get soggy etc if you apply too many toppings or too much of any one. Err on the side of being austere and the crust shines.
Once you have it topped, then slide it back toward the hot side but not completely over it. Then you have to be watchful b/c it's kind of touchy feely. Keep rotating it so different sections are over the direct heat and keep checking to see that the bottom isn't burning. If you keep the toppings to a minimum, it won't be long until they are heated through and the cheese, if any, is bubbling. The add herbs of choice and some additional oil and that's that.
Let us know how they come out.
Michael Chiarello on the Food Network did a whole episode on grilling pizzas... you can find the recipes online. Looked pretty good!
Definitely brush the grill with oil first. We do this a lot in the summer and it's a great dinner. We roll/press the dough out pretty flat on a long rectangular cutting board (so it fits on our square grate), flip it onto a REALLY hot grill, cook a few minutes (until the bottom is starting to char a bit and the dough is stiff enough to flip easily), and then flip it with tongs. Then we top it lightly with the toppings, close the grill and lower the heat a bit to finish it off, only a few minutes or so.
I use pizza pans for my grilled pizzas. I bought mine at target or K-mart or some other discount place for real cheap. I spread some cornmeal out before rolling out the dough, it helps the dough not to stick when it is on the pan. I put the pan on the grill first (direct method of heating) to get it hot and then transfer the dough to the pan. I find it gets real crispy and the cheese melts well. I use Trader Joe's dough or the dough recipe from the Chez Panisse cookbook for pasta & pizzas, but any basic dough recipe works great too. Good luck!