Monday, April 4, 2011

Mmmmm! Pizza {on the grill}

Blog Shout Out:  I want to thank my big sister Janet for introducing us to the wonderful world of making pizza on the grill.  To be honest - we will NEVER make homemade pizza in the house again!  The grill is truly the only way to go.

Pizza {on the grill}
Pizza on the grill is by far one of our favorite treats since it is so entirely versatile, can be different every time we make it and is fun to get the kids involved in cooking.  Making it on the grill is a year-round treat for us living in Arizona where the weather is so cooperative.  However, we really fire up the grill in the summer since the thought of turning on the oven is frightful.

{the dough}
Up to this point, I have always purchased the premade pizza dough from Trader Joes.  They have a great dough in their refrigerator section that comes in plain, wheat and herb.  I usually purchase a bunch and keep it in the freezer for those evenings when we decide pizza is in order. I love this dough and it is relatively inexpensive, however I am a frugal girl.  So, I did a bit of research and decided to give making my own a try.  It turned out great and I will be making up a bunch for the freezer from here forward.

{homemade pizza dough}

     1 3/4 cups warm water (or more if needed)
     2 Tbsp honey
     2 1/2 tsp yeast (one packet)
     3 Tbsp olive oil
     5 cups flour (or more as needed)
     2 tsp salt
     Optional seasonings - basil, italian seasoning, garlic, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, etc.
With the water in a measuring cup, stir in the honey, then add the yeast and stir until dissolved. Let sit for approximately 10 minutes to proof.  The mixture will begin to bubble and grow which tells you that the yeast is active.

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and stir until a soft dough forms. If the dough is too dry, add a little extra water, 1 tablespoon at a time. If the dough is too sticky, add extra flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and knead the dough until it becomes smooth and elastic, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drizzle the inside of a clean bowl with olive oil. Put the dough in the bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel. Set the bowl in a warm, draft-free place, until the dough has doubled in size.

Using a fist, deflate the dough in the center and knead again about 10-15 fold-overs.  Place back in the bowl to proof a second time.  Punch down the dough and cut it into 3-6 equal-sized pieces. (I like to make smaller pizzas so we can make a separate, more traditional flavor for the kids and a more fun, modern combonation for my husband and I).  If making pizza right away, form the dough pieces into balls and put each into an oiled bowl. Cover each bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a damp kitchen towel and let rest for 1 hour. Remove the dough and wrap in plastic.

Refrigerate for up to 1 day or place in a plastic freezer bag, removing as much air as possible and freeze.  To thaw the dough, place it in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

{grilling pizza}
Now the fun part begins.  If using frozen or refrigerated dough, bring the dough to room temperature by setting on the counter for approximately 20 minutes.  Roll the dough out by pressing it out using your fingers and a rolling pin if desired.  We like to roll it to approximately 1/4" thick.  Place on the back of a baking sheet or pizza peel that has been lightly covered with corn meal to allow the dough to gently slide onto the grill.

Preheat your grill by turning on all of the burners and closing the lid.  You want the grill to be VERY hot.  Once hot, turn off half of the burners and place the rolled out dough on the side away from the flame. 

Close the lid and let grill for approximately 5 minutes.  The top of the dough should look dry but still raw when you remove it from the grill.  As long as your grill is super hot, the dough should not stick.  I generally use a large spatula and a pair of tongs to remove the pizza from the grill.  Gently slide the spatula underneath and pull the crust from the grill.  (I gave my husband a large metal pizza peel for Christmas that looks like an oversized spatual and it is awesome.  Highly recommend one of these if you eat pizza alot.  I got it from Amazon.)  Make sure that the lid to the grill is closed while you complete the next step so that the heat can build up inside the grill.

Flip the crust over onto your pizza peel or baking sheet and begin to place your toppings on the already cooked side.  You can use whatever toppings you would like (I will share some of our favorite combos below although the possibilities are limitless).  All meats should be pre-cooked for best results.  Carefully place the pizza back on the grill and close the lid.  The pizza should remain on the grill until the crust has finished baking and the toppings are warmed through and the cheese has melted.  This will vary based on the temperature of your grill.

{the toppings}
Oh, the toppings.  This is what makes me love, love, love homemade pizza so much.  We have tried some great pizzas.  It is fun to play with traditional ideas of pizza and then recreate some of the great flavors we have had or seen on restaurant menus.  So here are some of our favorites...

• pepperoni and mushroom
• Hawaiian - ham and pineapple (especially good if you use fresh pineapple and grill the slices of pineapple before you chop them up to place on the pizza - really brings out the sweetness)
• vegetarian

• pesto, goat cheese, shrimp
• bbq chicken with bbq sauce instead of redsauce, chicken, onion and cheese
• cherry pie filling and mozzarella cheese
• cinnamon streussel and then drizzled with frosting
• thai chicken using a peanut sauce, chicken, cilantro and red onion

What do you like to put on your pizza?  I would love to hear your favorites!!!

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