Sure, you may have heard of it. Maybe you have friends and family who’ve said they’ve seen it. But you never really worked up the courage to try it yourself.
Pizza on the grill. Is such a thing possible? Does it really work? Doesn’t the dough stick to the grill and droop between the slots? And how does it actually taste?
Yes, yes, no…and fantastic.
And now, all the secrets to making dozens of incredible pizzas on your backyard grill are available in Pizzas on the Grill: 100+ Feisty Fire-Roasted Recipes for Pizza & More, from master grillers Elizabeth Karmel and Bob Blumer.
We won’t lie to you: making a pizza on the grill isn’t for the faint of heart. You’re going to make something of a mess prepping the pies and the cooking process will call upon both your skill at the grill as well as a familiarity with your grill’s “hot spots”—the areas that always seem to burn a bit warmer than the others. The first pizza may come out looking slightly alien. But once you’ve mastered the operation—and it really should only take one “trial run” before you do—you’ll be churning out amazing creations that you can customize for each individual diner, every one of whom will be dazzled by your culinary ability.
With that in mind, we tested Pizza on the Grill by whipping up three pies—two that were in the book, and one that we invented ourselves. The first was the basic “Very Cheesy Pizza” for our pickiest eater. The second was the “Nacho Libre Pizza,” a creation by authors Karmel and Blumer that features both the delightfully crispy crust of the grilled pizza and the savory flavor mix of a fabulous plate of nachos (see recipe below). For our third pie, we constructed a favorite of ours, a Sausage and Pineapple Pizza (don’t judge us, it’s fantastic!).
All three pizzas were instant hits, and in addition to the unbeatable taste (the grilled crust truly is a unique and wonderful sensation), we fell in love with the process of constructing each pie. It became a project that the whole family shared and it added to the satisfaction of devouring the meal.
So don’t be afraid—the next time you have a hankering for a pizza, skip the delivery menu and light up the grill instead! You and the entire family will be glad you did!
The Basic Technique for Gas-Grilled Pizza
Preheat the grill by opening the lid and setting all the burners on high. Close the lid and leave on high for 10 minutes.
The ball of dough should be the size of a softball, about four inches in diameter and 8 ounces in weight. While the grill preheats, sprinkle your work area (a cutting board, the back of a sheet pan, or a pizza peel works best) generously with grits or polenta (this will keep it from sticking to the surface).
Place the ball in the middle of the surface and roll in the grits until the ball is evenly dusted. Drizzle the ball generously with oil, then roll out the dough with a rolling pin, stretch it out with your hands, or press it out from the center. Your goal is to get the dough 1/8 to ¼ inch thick. Shape the dough according to your grill configuration. Don’t worry about making it perfect—organically shaped crusts are part of the charm of grilled pizza.
1) Set all burners to medium and transfer the dough to the cooking grate (to do this, pick it up by the two corners closest to you. In one motion, lay it down flat, as you would set a tablecloth down on a table). Close the lid and cook until the bottom is golden brown, three to five minutes.
2) Remove the crust from the grill using tongs and a pizza peel or rimless baking sheet, and flip it to reveal the grilled side. Spread the entire surface with the sauce, add toppings, and sprinkle with cheese.
3) Reconfigure the grill to indirect heat. (If you have a two-burner grill, turn off one burner. For three- or four-burner grills, turn off the center burner or burners.) Transfer the pizza back onto the grate over the unlit section, close the lid, and grill until the bottom is golden brown and crispy, and the cheese is bubbly, seven to ten minutes.
NACHO LIBRE PIZZA
1 ball prepared pizza dough, at room temperature
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup refried beans, homemade or store-bought
1 cup salsa, homemade or store-bought
1 ½ cups cooked ground beef or shredded leftover chicken
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 ½ cups grated jalapeño Jack cheese
½ cup sliced black olives, drained
½ cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
Pickled jalapeño slices (about 20)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Preheat the grill, roll out and shape the dough, and grill the first side of the crust per the master instructions. Use tongs to transfer it to a peel or rimless baking sheet. Flip the crust to reveal the grilled side.
Spread the entire surface with the refried beans. Top with the salsa, meat, chili powder, cheese, olives, and corn.
Finish grilling the pizza per the master instructions.
Remove from the grill. Sprinkle with the jalapeños and cilantro. Slice and serve immediately.
WINE CHOICES by the Big Chill
A glass of wine is always a wonderful companion for a great slice of pizza, but for this particular recipe, I would suggest making a pitcher of Sangria. Use any good, young, inexpensive Spanish wine as the base, or as an alternative, a Malbec from Argentina. There are lots of good ones available for less than $15 per bottle, and you can find many recipes for Sangria online.
If you’re not in the mood for wine, enjoy your Nacho Libre Pizza with a cold beer, such as Dos Equis or Corona. You can try a craft beer with this dish as well.
Here’s to a great meal!