The grill is the pizza’s best friend. It generates a lot more heat than most home ovens are able to, so you get closer to the fiery conditions of a real pro deck oven. Place a ceramic pizza stone onto your grill, and you harness and even out that roasting heat and can forget any kind of flipping altogether.
Here’s the method you’ll use. Let’s start here so you’ll know what you’ll be doing, and then we can talk about dough and ingredients.
If You Have a Gas Grill
A gas grill is great because it is more predictable and creates an even heat.
- Place a pizza stone on the grates and set the flames to medium-high. Cover, and allow the grill to heat up with the stone inside until it reaches around 500 degrees, which it should in about 10 minutes.
- Then remove the lid and place an 8-oz. ball of dough stretch to a 12-14-inch oval onto the stone, brush it with olive oil and then add your toppings. Replace the cover with your vents open, and let it cook until the underside of the crust is browned and the cheese is bubbly (7-9 minutes should do it). With a couple of large metal spatulas, transfer the pizza to a platter or board to cool for a few minutes. Then slice, add a little more olive oil and watch the people you’re feeding go crazy.
If You Have a Charcoal Grill
The method you’ll use with a charcoal grill is essentially the same, but the set up varies, of course.
- Once you get your charcoal hot, spread the coals in a ring around the perimeter of the grill and put the grate on top. When your coals are glowing but no longer flaming, put your stone onto the grate, cover it and preheat for 20 minutes (which should get your heat up to about 500 degrees). Then follow step 2 above. One load of coal should be enough for 2-3 pizzas.
If You Have No Pizza Stone
Prepare your grill for medium-high, indirect heat if you have a gas grill—but leave one or two burners off.
If you have a charcoal grill, bank your coals on one side of the grill instead of laying them out along the perimeter.
Then place an 8-oz. ball of dough and stretch it to a 12-14-inch oval over direct heat just long enough to create grill marks on the underside and stiffen the dough (about 45 seconds).
Now flip the dough over and cook the other side for 45 seconds. Now slide it over to the cooler part of the grill and add your toppings. Over the grill and cook the pizza until the crust is brown on the underside and the cheese is melted, rotating the pizza once after around 4 minutes.
The Dough and Other Ingredients
You can pick up dough from the supermarket or neighborhood pizzeria, or you can make it yourself the night before and let it rise in the fridge overnight.
If you’re going to make it yourself, do what Jamie Oliver does. Haha.
- 8 cups white bread flour or Tipo “00” flour (preferable), or 7 1/3 cups (800g) strong white bread flour (strong and high in gluten) or Tipo “00” flour and almost 2 cups (200g) finely ground semolina flour
- 1 teaspoon of fine sea salt
- 2 x 7g yeast sachets
- 1 tbsp. golden caster sugar
- 4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- Sieve the flour and salt onto a clean work surface and make a well in the middle.
- In a jug, mix the yeast, sugar and oil into 650 ml or almost 3 cups of lukewarm water and set it aside for a few minutes, then pour the mixture into the well.
- Use a fork to bring the flour in gradually. Dust your hands with flour and knead the dough until it’s smooth and springy.
- Put the dough into a large flour-dusted bowl and flour the top of it, then cover with a damp cloth and place it in a warm room for around one hour. The dough should double in size.
- Dust a surface and knead the dough to push the air out of it, then use the dough immediately or wrap it in clingfilm and put it into the fridge until it’s required.
- Roll out the pizza bases at the required size 15-20 minutes before you want to cook them.
If you buy it, let it sit at room temperature for around half an hour to an hour, or until it’s pliable, then stretch it out on a well-floured surface. Only buy fresh. Stretch it out with your fingers and then roll with a rolling pin on a dry surface with plenty of flour dusted over it.
You can simply make passata. Buy some whole canned tomatoes and crush them by hand or with a food mill or blender, then thin out the mixture with a little of the juice from the can and season it with salt to taste. Don’t put too much on because it will make the pizza soggy. One 28-oz. can will get you through four pizzas, so divide it into quarters and go from there.
Torn fresh mozzarella, Fontina or ricotta and a hard cheese like Parmesan or aged provolone make for a perfect combo. Go easy on the cheese. It’s way too easy to go overboard and make a mess. Less is more.
You could also try fresh, torn buffalo mozzarella or caciocavallo; grated or shaved pecorino or fresh goat’s cheese.
Less is more when it comes to toppings, too.
Eggs can be cracked over your pizza when it hits the grill and gets covered. Other topping ideas include:
- Grilled eggplant
- Sliced red onion
- Sliced garlic, pre-toasted in olive oil
- Charred or wilted kale or Swiss chard
- Grilled scallions
- Caramelized onions
- Small spring onions
- Shaved fennel
- Sliced fresh chiles
- Herbs: basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, etc.
- New potatoes
- Halved cherry tomatoes
- Sliced heirloom tomatoes
- Sweet or hot Italian sausage
- Slices prosciutto
- Sliced hard salami
- Pancetta or slab bacon
Other Fun Ingredients
- Basil pesto
- Herb oil
- Cracked black pepper
- Steamed clams
Fresh herbs, chiles, a drizzle of olive oil or honey and flaky salt can all be added to your pizza when it comes off the grill to make it look sexy.
Step By Step
So here’s what you’ll want to do, blow by blow.
Check the Forecast
There’s nothing worse than getting your pizza and yourself rained on! Check the forecast so you get a nice sunny day, or at least a dry one.
Make the Dough (And Get the Beer in the Fridge)
If you are going to make your dough, do it the day before, and let it rise in the fridge overnight, then again on the day for a little while. Make sure you have plenty of cold beer in the fridge to enjoy while you’re cooking and/or eating.
Get Your Ingredients Ready
When you first start making pizzas, you’ll want to plan your ingredients and make sure they’re all fresh and ready for pizza making day. After that, you might be able to rustle something amazing up last minute using your creativity and spunk alone.
Prep the Grill
As explained above.
Cook Your Pizza
Preferably with a timer. Keep an eye on it.
With your family, friends and pooch. Who doesn’t like pizza?!
Images courtesy of Martha W McQuade, nan palmero, Stefano A., maveric2003, British Mum, cyclonebill and Hungry Dudes on Flickr.