09 July 2009

Grilled Pizza

Pizza is a perfect food. The delicate balance of molten cheese, fresh sauce or quality olive oil, and charred, springy crust harmoniously brings all the pleasure sensations together. And while everyone seems to offer it, from haute cuisine to low brow bars, its resurgence in the restaurant scene is often muddled by pretentious ingredients, arrogant staff, and condescending menus.

Due to its recession proof appeal, many chefs have added pizza to their menus. I've even seen it in Asian fusion restaurants.

I find this all (in a way), amusing, given the price of a pie in most restaurants. Even on the lower end, finding a pizza for under $15.00 is nearly impossible.

As my imaginary inner Italian Grandmother would tell you, "You want a pizza? Make a pizza!"

Pizza is an art. It requires passion to create it properly. Papa Murphy's doesn't come anywhere close to resembling pizza.

To make it, you'll also need patience.

And a grill.

Seriously, unless your oven reaches at least 900 degrees F, you will be wasting your efforts there. And no, you do not need a stone. A grill can reach up to 550 or 650 degrees F, and a stone requires more to actually be effective. I have used a stone in a brick, wood fired oven that reached 850 degrees, and that was the proper application, (in fact, it was the perfect crust). Any temperature less than that, and the stone will steam the crust, locking in the moisture, yet not charring the outside.

In this recipe a perforated pan works best. This allows your coals, or gas flames to char the crust. You can find them in the BBQ section of most stores.

I prefer making my own dough, but this is not always practical. For this recipe, I use a purchased dough. (Think Pastaworks, New Seasons, Trader Joe's)...

A favourite of anyone who's had it:

Pizza di Funghi

1 or 2 Packages of dough of choice, rested at room temperature for one hour

Olive oil

Quattro Formaggio (Fontina, Asiago, Provolone or Mozzarella, Parmesan)

2 oz of dried wild mushrooms, reconstituted, and all moisture gently pushed out

Truffle oil


This recipe is for two pizzas. If you prefer a Napoleon style crust as I do, divide dough into two equal parts. This will give you two 13" pizzas. If you prefer a bit more tooth to your crust, use entire amount per pie. (The picture I took was made with an entire package, which makes a more Sicilian style crust). On a lightly floured surface, gently press the dough from center out, using your fingers to create a rim around the outside. Spread the dough until it reaches the correct size. Be very careful not to knead the dough. If the dough is resilient, and shrinks back on you, wait a few minutes and begin again. Never use a rolling pin. The idea is to spread the dough without removing the air in it. This is essential for a proper crust. I've lost patience and used a pin, only to find myself unequivocally disappointed. Once dough is spread out, place on a perforated pan. Drizzle olive oil over the dough. Spread the cheeses evenly over the pie. If you are using fresh mozzarella in your blend, I recommend pressing the moisture out of the cheese before mixing it in. This isn't a soup recipe. Sprinkle the pie with the mushrooms and place over a hot grill and cover. Check the pizza in 4 or 5 minutes and turn if necessary. Cooking time will vary, depending on your grill. Char the pizza, without over doing it. Carefully remove from pan and drizzle with Truffle oil. Allow to set for a few minutes before slicing.

Serve with sea salt and Calabrian Peppers on the side.


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