Friday, June 25, 2010

Two Words That Will Change Your Summer: GRILLED PIZZA

Photo by Robbie Stout

Last night we had a pizza party at the Lazy S Ranch. Seven of us devoured 8 pizzas and consumed prodigious volumes of adult beverages. It was a glorious evening, I assure you.

This could be my absolute favorite way to make and eat pizza. This recipe is especially fantastic because it allows you to whip up pizza with a bunch of garden veggies at the height of summer without heating up the kitchen.

There are three keys to making this pizza:

The first key is to keep your toppings light. The beauty of this pizza is its simplicity. But more importantly, anything besides a very, very thin pizza will not cook all the way through on the grill. My Margherita style pizza below is great, but you can change the toppings to whatever you like, as long as you go easy.

The second key is reading the directions all the way through before you start your cooking. Grilling pizza requires you to be quick on your feet.

The third critical key is to make sure your grill is very clean. A dirty grate will cause the dough to stick.

You’ll also need a wooden pizza peel—that’s the paddle you see at a pizzeria that the chef uses to transfer the pizza into the oven. It can be found at any kitchen store—or even in the kitchen section in a store like Target for less than $20.

Recipe makes 4 personal-size pizzas (we did a double batch last night).

Prep time: 3 cocktails

Double Batch Neapolitan-Style Thin Pizza Crust (click here for recipe)
2/3 pound mozzarella cheese, grated (3/4 a pound, if you’re a cheese lover)
28 ounce can whole San Marzano tomatoes, or equivalent garden tomatoes
20 or so basil leaves, torn up a bit
4 TBSP olive oil
4 minced garlic cloves and chili pepper flakes (both optional)

As dough rises, open tomatoes and transfer the tomatoes and juice to a food processor. Puree until you have a nice tomato sauce consistency—a few chunks are fine. Transfer to small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stirring often, cook until the tomatoes have reduced into the thickness of marinara sauce, about 30 minutes, but will vary depending on water content of tomatoes.

When you’re 15 minutes away from making your pizzas, bring your grill up to heat. It should be hot enough that you are able to hold your hand about 5 inches above the grate for 3-4 seconds. On my grill, that’s slightly below medium heat.

When the dough is done, divide into 4 equal balls. Roll out the first one on a floured surface into a 10” thin crust. Don’t pinch up the edges like you would with other pizzas. Transfer to a floured pizza peel. Brush the top of the crust with a layer of olive oil.

Now transfer the pizza to the grill. It’s not as tough as it sounds. If you’re careful, it will just nicely slide right off the peel onto the grill. There might be a bit of sag. You can try to adjust it with a metal spatula, or just not worry about it.

Cook for about 90 seconds, or until the crust just begins to get nice grill lines and turn golden. With the pizza peel or a metal spatula, scoop up and flip the crust.

Now work fast! Quickly, ladle on a quarter of your sauce, garlic, and chili flakes. Evenly sprinkle a quarter of your cheese. Top with the basil. Don’t spread the toppings all the way to the edge; leave a little naked crust.

Close the lid and cook 3-5 minutes, or until the cheese melts. After the first couple minutes of cooking, open the lid and check the bottom of the crust every minute or so. If your grill cooks unevenly, part of the crust may cook faster than the rest, so you might have to rotate with the spatula to prevent burning.

When it’s done, remove with the pizza peel, slice, and serve.

Now repeat with the other 3 dough balls.

Enjoy the pizza with your adult beverages and friends and call me tomorrow to thank me.


  1. Do not underestimate the pure goodness of the grilled pizza. Every word here is true.

  2. I can't wait to try this - cousin Bill

  3. Bill--It'll change your life

  4. Ha! "Cook time: 3 cocktails" - I love that you measure it that way.