Everyone loves pizza. But who wants to turn on an oven in the height of the summer heat? The chefs at The Culinary Institute of America have a great alternative that beats calling out for delivery: use your outdoor grill to make a fresh and delicious smoky-flavored pie.
Making bread on top of coals is as old as fire and dough. Flatbreads of many types, like Indian-style naan and Mexican tortillas, have been traditionally grilled all over the world.
“The key to making a great grilled pizza is shaping the crust,” says CIA Chef Howie Velie. “Start with fresh dough, and roll or stretch it so the center is about 1/4-inch thick. I prefer to keep them small in diameter so they are easier to manage and get off the grill.”
Pizza can be made on your gas grill or any outdoor fire. For best results, make your own fresh dough, roll or stretch it to the desired size, and don’t worry if it isn’t perfectly round. Brush with oil, and place the oiled side directly onto the grill. Once it’s down, brush the other side with oil. Flip it over as soon as the dough is marked on the down side and begins to puff up slightly. You are now ready to sauce and top the pie.
Sauté or grill the onions for the pizza before you begin. If you prefer, you can use uncooked onions instead. In that case, use a sweet onion like a Walla Walla or Vidalia. The tomato sauce that you use for the pizza should be fairly thick and not cold.
This method produces a crispy rustic pizza. By using favorite toppings, you can customize each one to everyone’s individual taste. Pizza is always a great party food, and this is especially true for outdoor parties when you make the pizzas yourself.
The following recipe—along with more than 175 others—is explained and illustrated in The Culinary Institute of America Grilling cookbook (2006, Lebhar-Friedman), available for purchase at bookstores nationwide.
Makes 8 Servings
- 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 2 cups warm water
- 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup semolina flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
- 2 cups grated mozzarella
- 1/4 cup sautéed diced onions
- 2 tablespoons basil chiffonade
- Combine the yeast and water in a bowl and stir to dissolve. Let the mixture sit until a thick foam forms.
- Add the flours and the salt to the yeast and stir by hand, or mix on medium speed in an electric mixer using the dough hook attachment, until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes.
- Transfer the dough to a second bowl that has been lightly oiled. Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel and let rest at room temperature until nearly doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.
- Gently fold the dough over and allow it to rise for another 45 minutes.
- Preheat a gas grill to high. If you are using a charcoal grill, build a fire and let it burn down until the coals are glowing red with a moderate coating of white ash. Spread the coals in an even bed. Clean the cooking grate.
- Roll or stretch the dough into a 12-inch round. Lightly dust a 12-inch pizza pan with semolina flour and lay the dough round on top. Brush some of the olive oil over the entire dough round.
- Lift the dough from the pan and place the pizza dough directly on the grill with the oiled side face down. Brush the dough with the remaining olive oil. Grill the pizza until the dough is marked and it puffs up slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip the pizza over and spread the sauce evenly over the round, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the outside edges. Evenly sprinkle the cheese over the sauce and top with the onions. Close the lid on the grill. Cook the pizza until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is slightly brown and bubbly, about 2 to 3 minutes more.
- Remove the pizza from the grill and sprinkle the basil chiffonade on top. Cut the pizza into 8 slices and serve immediately.
Information per serving—Calories: 350, Protein: 15 g, Carbohydrates: 44 g,
Fiber: 3 g, Total Fat: 13 g, Saturated Fat: 4 g, Sodium: 880 mg.