Monday, August 13, 2012

The Grilled Pizza Incident

A few months after we moved back to Michigan, Mike made plans to get together with his friend Tom and his new (at least to us) girlfriend Melissa. As is probably typical with a married couple in those first sleep-deprived months of parenthood, we somehow got our signals crossed and I found myself covered in dirt from working out in our garden all afternoon with a house full of guests, no food in the house, and a vague idea in my head that I was planning on making grilled pizzas for dinner. My visions of being one of those cool, have-it-all-together moms were quickly going down the drain as introductions were being made and I was trying to downplay the awesomeness of my muddy Crocs and hide the fact that I had absolutely no fancy edible snacks to offer. (Have I mentioned that Melissa is drop-dead gorgeous and a *few* years younger? Sigh.)

After a quick shower and rushed trip to the grocery store, I returned to make amends and dazzle them all with my grilled-pizza-making-skills. Once they taste this, I thought to myself,  I will be totally redeemed and they will forget all about the stale bag of pretzels I offered them and realize I am a cool mom after all!

Yeah, not so much. I guess in my haste I forgot to look up the recipe, because the damn pizzas took FOREVER to cook. I'm pretty sure Tom and Melissa left before anything was done, claiming the need to be at a graduation party, but in reality they probably got so hungry they needed to make a break for it before they passed out from hunger.

I am proud to say that since that awful, awful May day I have totally perfected the grilling of the pizza - in fact it's probably been one our favorite summer meals.

Except Tom and Melissa just had to move to Colorado, so even if I wanted to prove to them that I'm not a total spaz, I couldn't.

The best I can do is share my recipe and technique. So here it goes...

Spoiler Alert: This is going to get long. It's really not complicated, just lots of steps, especially if you are going to be making your own dough and sauce. You can totally skip those steps and just move right on to the grilling technique if you want!

The first part is the dough. When we lived in South Carolina, our grocery store sold fresh pizza dough that was awesome. I haven't been able to find it here, but after trying a few recipes I think I've found the best one. It is, in fact, called "The Best-Ever Pizza Dough" and can be found here. It's perfectly chewy and crispy, just the way I like it. You need to make it at least a day in advance.


1 cup lukewarm water (105-115 degrees) I never measure the temp...just use warm-ish water
1 tsp. honey
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (the little packets they sell are exactly this amount, fyi)
3 cups (or more) all-purpose flour
1 3/4 tsp. coarse salt
2 tbsp. EVOO

1. Mix the water and the honey in a liquid measuring cup until the honey dissolves. Sprinkle with the yeast and let the mixture stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, using a food processor, pulse the flour and salt to mix.

2. Pour the yeast mixture and the EVOO over the flour mixture. Process until the dough comes together in a sticky ball, 20 to 30 seconds.

3. Put the dough on a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.

4. Add the dough to a large, oiled bowl and turn to coat. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, about an hour - I put mine in the microwave, just so it's safe from toddler hands or curious dogs.

5. Punch the dough down and put it back on a floured work surface. Quarter the dough using a knife.

6. With each section of dough, work it into a ball and roll it until smooth.

Rolling dough and taking pictures at the same time is not so easy - sorry for the crappy lighting!

7. Each dough ball goes into a plastic bag. If you are going to be eating it soon, refrigerate it for 10 to 48 hours, otherwise you can freeze it for up to two weeks. We usually eat two pizzas at a time and freeze the other two. Let the dough sit at room temperature for about an hour before you shape it, if it's been in the freezer let it sit out for two hours.

8. Working with one dough ball at a time, press it out onto a lightly floured work surface and press into the shape you want. I usually just go with the shape naturally - they never turn out totally round, more like ovals or rectangles. You could also cut the dough here to make mini pizzas if you want!

I like to make my own sauce, mostly because I'm picky and don't like sauce that tastes over-cooked or seasoned.  Here is my basic recipe - doctor it up as you like! This is enough sauce for two rounds of pizza, so I usually keep the leftovers in the fridge until we grill the second half of the dough, as long as it's within ten days or so.


1 14.5-ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 14.5-ounce can of tomato sauce - but you probably only use about half the can
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tbs. EVOO
Fresh garlic, grated or minced- I usually use one or two cloves

1. Throw all the diced tomatoes, half the tomato sauce, the salt, EVOO, and garlic into a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times until you get your desired consistency. I like it a little chunky, but you can make it smoother if you want. Season to taste and add more tomato sauce until it's how you like it!

Now you are ready to grill. There are tons of recipes out there for different kinds of pizzas, but I have to admit that I'm a boring simple girl when it comes to pizza. I like plain cheese. Maybe some basil or fresh mushrooms.  No BBQ sauce or other crazy concoctions for this girl. But if you are into pizza that's a little crazier (Pepperoni? Calm down, would you?!) here is where you'd want to assemble all your ingredients.


Pizza sauce - half of recipe above, about a cup
Pizza Dough
Mozzarella cheese - 1 to 2 cups
Toppings of your choosing

1. Preheat a grill to 500.

2. Lower the heat on one side of the grill to low. Oil the grate on that side of the grill. I sometimes use a paper towel soaked in oil with some tongs, other times I just use a pastry brush to put the oil directly on the crusts. I've even sprayed the crust with non-stick cooking spray before. Move the shaped dough to the grill. Lower the edge of the dough onto the oiled grill. For bigger pizzas, grill two at a time. If you're making mini pizzas you can grill eight at a time.

3. Cover the grill and cook until the crusts begin to bubble and brown, about 3 minutes. Loosen the crusts with a metal spatula and flip over, cooking until they begin to brown on the bottom, about 2 more minutes.

The back of our grill is a little hotter than the front, but even burnt it still tastes delish!

4. Flip the crusts back over to their original sides, but this time put a baking sheet underneath (thanks for the tip, Fred and Sarah!). Spread the pizza sauce over the crust and then sprinkle with cheese and any toppings you want to add. Cover and cook until the cheese is melty and golden, 2 to 3 minutes.

Can you guess which one I'm going to eat?

Hooray! You're done! I honestly think this pizza tastes way better than any you can get delivered, and it is SO much cheaper.

Plus, you could totally impress Tom and Melissa. If only they didn't live so far away...

Anna's face when I told her there were people out there who doubted my grilled-pizza-making-skills. She just can't believe it.

Happy Monday!