My first (successful) grilled pizza
It’s fitting that my first post is about pizza, since it is probably my most favorite food, after ice cream, chocolate and other desserts.
When I finished grad school in the spring, I set myself the goal of “figuring out yeast” and thereby learning how to make bread. As far as I’m concerned, if I can’t make bread, what kind of cook am I, really? Plus, by figuring out yeast, I can make cinnamon rolls that don’t rise funny and other tasty, yummy-smelling goodies. The only problem with learning how to make bread is that, well, you have lots of bread.
Then I had a light-bulb moment: instead of making bread, I’ll make pizza! Who doesn’t love pizza? I can practice the whole yeast thing and make a whole meal all at once! Problem solved.
With the help of a cookbook I got this spring, A16: Food and Wine, I set about to making homemade pizza crust. The crust was fantastic (just don’t forget to put salt in it because then, as the boyfriend said, it tastes like “dull bread”… ouch) and I considered myself a pizza-making genius. However, I was running into problems getting the pizza to slide off the pizza peal without sticking/making a mess/other disasters. I tried flouring the pizza stone, and the flour promptly started burning and set off the smoke alarms… I tried using minimal toppings and putting the toppings on immediately before popping it in the oven but the toppings got on the stone and burned… I burned my hand on a 500 degree oven rack (that was 2 months ago and there’s still a mark). Clearly, we were in need of a solution to the “burning” problems.
Enter: the grill. The idea made me nervous due to previous bad experiences trying to grill pizza that involved charred crusts and unmelted cheese, but A16 assured me it would work. Plus, by grilling it the boyf could help, and the kitchen would not feel like it was about to spontaneously combust. I gotta tell you: this was some of the best pizza I’ve ever made.
Recipe: Pizza Crust
(Adapted from A16: Food and Wine)
1 tsp yeast (about 1/2 a packet, or you could do 2 tsp and it turns out fine too)
1 1/2 c warm water
2 tsp evoo (that’s right, I’m going Rachael Ray on you. Sorry)
2 tsp salt
4 c flour
Pour the yeast into a bowl containing the warm water. Let it proof until it gets poofy or the yeast disintegrates (if the yeast doesn’t disintegrate, you might want to start over because you A) killed it or B) the water isn’t the right temp). Please note that this is not an exact science and I’m speaking from personal experience that has resulted in bread that didn’t rise. It was sad.
Anyhow, mix together the water and the yeast with a wooden spoon and then then add in the flour. While kneading the dough, incorporate in the salt. When the dough is soft, smooth and stretchy (I usually knead it for about 10 minutes) put it in an oil-coated bowl and cover with saran wrap. Let it rise in a warm, draft-free, happy place until it has doubled in size and then punch it down, divide it into 4 balls. Place the dough balls on a flour-coated counter and cover with a towel and let rise until doubled again.
In the mean time, fire up your grill. You’ll want medium low heat because otherwise it cooks too fast, and that’s bad. We have a charcoal grill because, well, that’s how we roll. You might have a gas grill. That’s worthy of another post entirely. Back to the point… Roll out a ball of dough to desired thickness, brush one side with olive oil and toss it on the grill. Cover and let it cook for 1 – 2 minutes and then flip it over. Place your desired toppings (no more than sauce, cheese, chili flakes and 2 other toppings because otherwise it won’t cook and it gets soggy) and cover back up. Remove from grill when crust is crispy or, as is sometimes the case, you smell it burning.
This is what ours looked like when it was done. Yet another view: Something you should probably know about my cooking, and that you’ve probably figured out already, is that things go wrong. There are always lots of “oops!”s and “oh shit!”s being exclaimed, but I never let it stop me. I’m just lucky to have a boyf who’s willing to clean up my mess 🙂