For our combination Fourth of July/Mike’s birthday party, we made pizza on the grill. I don’t have any photos of the occasion, which is really a shame, since I think at one point there was the population of a small town in our pool. It was a very hot day.
I got a lot of requests for this recipe, so I am posting it here even though I don’t have photographic evidence of the grilled pizza goodness. I pre-baked the pizza crusts, in the hope that they would finish quickly on the grill, since we had a lot of them to make. The crust is based on Peter Reinhart’s (my bread-making guru) Neo-Neapolitan Pizza Dough from his book American Pie, but I made some changes to the procedure. Here’s what I did:
5 cups bread flour (21.25 ounces) — you can substitute all-purpose
1 tbsp honey
3.5 tsp kosher salt — if you are using regular salt, make it 2 tsp
1 tsp instant yeast — if all you have is active dry, proof it for five minutes in one cup of the warm water, and add it with the wet ingedients
2 tbsp olive oil
1 3/4 to 2 c water, room temperature (14 – 16 ounces)
In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, stir together the flour, salt, and yeast. While stirring, gradually add the honey, olive oil, and water and stir together for approximately four minutes. Let it rest for five minutes, then mix again for 2 minutes. The dough should be soft and it should stick to the bottom of your mixer bowl, but not to the sides. If it doesn’t stick to the bottom, add some more water. If it is sticking too much, add a little more flour.
Scrape the dough into a dough rising bucket (or a plain bowl covered with plastic wrap) sprayed with spray oil. I made multiple batches. Some I left out on the counter for about half an hour before putting in the refrigerator. Some I put right in the refrigerator. It didn’t seem to matter in the end.
The next day, take the dough out of the refrigerator and let it warm up for about two hours. The dough should be about doubled at the end of that time. For the personal size pizza we had at the party, I cut and weighed out the dough into 6 ounce balls, which made pizzas approximately 8 inches in diameter. This recipe made about 6 6-ounce crusts. You could make them bigger to get larger pizzas.
Preheat your oven to as hot as it will go (mine goes to 500 degrees F). On parchment paper or a metal cookie sheet or pizza sheet, spread out a little olive oil. With olive oil on your hands, stretch your dough from the center out, then put it on the paper or pan and press it out to form a circle. The dough will snap back at first; let it sit for a few minutes and then come back to press it out further. I did a bunch of these all at the same time, pressing them in turn until I got them as thin as I wanted (about half an inch for a thin crust). If you like your pizza thicker, then just don’t press them out as much.
[An aside: I can never ever toss pizza or twirl it or use any other method than pressing without it ripping. I have no pizza tossing skills.]
When the oven is preheated and your dough is all stretched out, pop them into the oven for five minutes. I did mine one right after the other.
If you wanted to bake them at this point, or run them outside to the grill, you could top them and bake them another 5-7 minutes at the same oven temperature.
If you want to wait to make them, cool them on a rack until they are no longer warm. Wrap them in a plastic bag and leave them out at room temperature if you plan to bake them within the next day or so. If you are going to wait longer than that, I would freeze them by double-wrapping in plastic and popping them in the freezer. You can take them out on the day you want to make them. I had some that were frozen, and they defrosted pretty quickly, within a few hours.
For the party, we had tomato sauce, pesto, and garlic oil, along with shredded mozzarella and sliced fresh mozzarella, and tomatoes, and some of our guests brought along fresh basil and oregano, red peppers, and chicken for the non-vegetarians among us. Everyone made their own pizzas. We preheated the grill on a low-medium temperature and grilled four at a time for approximately 5-7 minutes, until the crust was browned on the edges and the cheese was melted. It was a lot easier than I expected, and we were able to get them all made in a fairly short amount of time. Best of all, we had leftover crusts for the next day! I think I still have some in my freezer, too.