A couple of days ago I hosted my first cooking Meetup. About a month ago, on a whim, I took over the What’s Cookin’ Minnesota? group. I decided for an ice breaker we should make pizzas on the grill and pair that with a beer tasting. I provided the crust dough, roasted tomato sauce and carmelized onions. Just to make things more Minnesotan, I asked people to source some local ingredients for toppings.
Of course, after inviting a bunch of strangers to my yard, then I had to learn how to make pizzas on a grill. I’m always really happy with the results of the pizza dough I photographed and wrote about in January, so I knew that would be the recipe I would use. It was pretty much just a matter of figuring out how to make it work for the grill. Turned out that two key bits for success were cooking both sides of the crust (rather than cooking it like you would in an oven) and moving it around quite a bit so that it wouldn’t get burned my grill’s hot spots.
The only other thing is to not loading up the crusts too much. (Although, this does become a bit difficult when people bring lots of tasty toppings.)
(Go ahead, take a bite.)
pizza dough & roasted tomato sauce
Start the (propane) grill up, with heat on the lowest setting.
Sprinkle a pizza peel or the back of a cookie sheet with semolina flour. Flour the backs of your knuckles with regular flour and pull the dough outward in a circle to shape it. Toss dough down onto peel or cookie sheet and finish off the shaping.
When Marv and I were trying to figure out the best way to grill the the pizza we decided it needed some olive oil brushed on the side that would become the top of the pizza. Gave it a better flavor and kept the dough from drying out on fire. So, brush the top with oil.
Now comes the tricky part, this first step is a doozy. You need to flip the pizza onto the grill to get the olive oil side down. You can do this by quickly flipping the whole peel or by pulling the dough from the peel onto the grill. Close the lid of the grill if you can. (We had a bunch of pizzas coming, turning and going so we didn’t close it that much.)
Keep your nose on the crust. When you smell anything resembling burning, open the grill and turn away from hot spots. Or better yet, be proactive so it doesn’t burn at all.
When the olive oil side is all browned up, flip it over.
Then you want to add on your toppings, but do so sparingly. This is not your loaded down pizza here. My toppings were carmelized onions (about 8 onions, sliced, sauted in oil, sprinkled with salt, and then cooked over low heat for an hour or so), prochuttio, goat cheese, fresh mozzarella and fresh basil.
After you’ve put the toppings on, close the grill again and make sure to keep smelling for burning and turning when the bottom gets too browned until it’s all browned and the cheese has melted.
Happily, everyone’s pizza worked out and the only difficulties were deciding from the huge number of toppings and keeping the crusts off the heavy flames with the grill at full capacity.
Ken wrapped half of his up for later and said it was even still good cold.
As it turned out, it was a beautiful, temperate and mosquito-free day. The food was good, the company was better. Who could ask for more?