People kept asking us whether our very wet, stored dough could be grilled directly on the grates of a hot gas grill, and the answer is a very delicious yes– I stopped lugging my stone outside last summer. Zoe and I will be teaching a class on this at Cooks of Crocus Hill in St. Paul, MN on July 19. We’ll also be talking summertime bread baking in San Francisco, where we’re headed tomorrow night to promote the book (see our events listings 6/26/08-6/29/08). Read on if you want to see some highlights on how to grill the pizzas I made for friends in my backyard this past Saturday night…
First, pre-heat your gas grill with medium flame on all burners (you’ll be grilling over “direct” heat). I have a Weber Genesis A, which gives nice even heat, but you can get this to work with any gas grill (here’s a more recent-model Weber grill on Amazon). Roll out about a half-pound to a pound of your favorite non-enriched stored high-moisture dough (eg., Master page 26, Peasant page 46, or Olive Oil Dough page 134); use a rolling pin to achieve a thickness of about 1/8-inch. This is important, because thicker grilled pizzas can burn before being baked through. I rolled this one directly on a silicone mat, drizzled it with olive oil and pressed some herbs into it (oil and herbs are optional). Dough doesn’t stick to these mats, so you can use very little flour. Also, I knew I’d be dousing this thing in olive oil, which tends to make a mess of my wooden board. If you only have a wooden board or wood pizza peel, that’s fine too.
You have two choices: you can either oil the grill grates with canola or other high-smoking point oil (use a paper towel), or you can oil the dough round, as I did here. In that case, you can use olive oil, which has a lower smoking point but will do fine when it’s applied to the pizza rather than to the grates. If your grates are in really good shape (not corroded), you can omit the oil altogether and just be sure that the dough round is well-dusted with flour when you put it on the grates.
This dough round couldn’t be slid off a pizza peel, because of the oil (it would have stuck). I just picked it up with my fingers and dropped it into place (be careful). What you see here has been on the grill, above direct heat (the burner is lit, right below it), for about three minutes. Keep the lid closed except for the occasional peek or it’s going to be difficult to get the dough to bake through. The trick to to understand just where to set your grill for “medium.” It’s going to vary by grill. You know you’re probably ready to flip when the top surface looks puffy (as above), and the bottom surface is nicely browned. In some places, it will char. You may have to rotate your pizza to get even doneness.
Once you’ve flipped the dough (above), you’re ready to apply tomato, cheese and other toppings; be relatively sparing because you’ll be depending on the closed grill top to retain heat so that the cheese melts and the flavors blend. It’s going to be difficult to get the cheese to brown but there’ll be so much beautiful caramelization and browning in the bread that you won’t be disappointed. It will take another three to five minutes, depending on the heat your grill delivers. You obviously won’t be able to flip again, and watch carefully to remove from heat before the bottom burns. Keep the lid closed as much as possible, and use your nose to detect when that bottom crust is just beginning to char in places (sniff, sniff). I’m serious.
You don’t need a picture of me putting toppings on here, do you? Good, because I got to talking with my guests and lost interest in my camera. Sorry about that. Here were the results– we actually made three pizzas Saturday night; one was untopped altogether to make a grilled flatbread to eat with vegetables and yogurt-garlic-chive-mint dipping sauce. There’s a little bit of char and that’s just fine:
Then we had the fresh mozzarella, asparagus, calamata olive, and artichoke pizza pictured; here’s a closer view of the toppings (something like this will be in our second book):
We also made a chicken pesto pizza: no cheese, but same idea, with basil, olive oil, pine nuts done in the food processor. Then pre-grilled chicken scattered on top. The thin, caramelized crust in this picture is really what you are going for. It crunched in our mouths:
More details when we see you at the “Cooks” class on July 19, or maybe even in San Francisco. Grill on.