Here’s something different: a smoky pizza from the barbeque!
On Saturday Martine and I were hankering for pizza, but it was too hot to fire up the oven, so I decided to try the barbeque route. I’ve seen this done on TV but had never tried it.
It started with the sauce — I adapted the grilled salsa recipe from a few weeks ago. I started by grilling a couple of tomatoes, some red onion slices, and a couple of cloves of garlic. (I also grilled some mushrooms at the time, but more about that later…)
Grilled tomatoes are ready when the skins have split and the flesh starts to sag. I set them aside to cool, then I skinned them, squished them a bit, and put them in a strainer to drain off some of the liquid. In the meantime I chopped up the red onions and garlic and put them in a bowl. I added some salt and pepper, and a big handful of herbs from the garden (basil, oregano, and parsley), then mixed in the drained tomatoes. I finished it with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. (Disclosure: as you can see in the photo, I had only two tomatoes, which wasn’t enough for two pizzas, so I added some chopped tomatoes from a jar.)
One of my favorite pizza combinations is mushrooms and bacon, which seems like a perfect match to the smokiness of outdoor grilling. So be it. I grilled the mushrooms in advance, because raw mushrooms on a pizza simply don’t compare with grilled ones. In fact, I recommend pre-cooking mushrooms whenever you put them on pizza. The same goes for bacon. Nobody wants greasy undercooked bacon on a pizza. Precooking the bacon is particularly important when making the kind of pizza that cooks really quickly, like my smoky BBQ pizza!
The real trick with making a pizza on the barbeque is the crust — barbeque pizza dough needs to be cooked in advance. It should also be fairly thick, because a thin crust won’t be firm enough to stand up to the grill.
I used a regular pizza dough recipe, cut into two balls. I rolled them out into two thick 10-inch discs, which I dropped on the grill over medium-low heat, then closed the lid.
It cooks fast! I rotated the discs after a couple of minutes, and soon after they were ready to flip. (It’s important to rotate the discs so as to not burn the dough if your grill has hot spots. Also, it reminds you to keep an eye on them!)
Here’s the key: cook the dough on one side, but only half-cook it on the other side. Then remove it from the grill and quickly dress the pizza, but dress it on the cooked side!
Note: go easy on the cheese. Because this pizza cooks from below, it won’t melt and brown the cheese the way a regular oven does.
All dressed up, and onto the grill! Again, rotate the pizzas a couple of times, but try not to lift the grill cover too high while doing so, so you don’t let the heat out. Remember that the crust is already half-cooked on the bottom, so it will finish in about three minutes. If you’re using a gas grill, you can turn off the flame and let it sit in the warm enclosure for another couple of minutes.
Oh my, it was good! We ate a pie and a half, and warmed up the remaining half the next day for lunch. Mmmmmm!