Last year, when Jim Lahey’s new book, My Pizza, came out, you couldn’t toss a dough ball without seeing an article about it.
As much hype surrounds this bread man, Lahey’s got it right—
Great pizza starts at home.
But, I don’t believe great pizza should come with a no-knead, super-thin crust. As Alton Brown explains, it’s all about those gaseous bubbles, creating a “chewy” but “crunchy” dough perfect for piling with the right ingredients:
Pictured: Alton Brown, Season 3 Episode 11, “Flat is Beautiful (PIzza).” In this episode, he explains why “hard flours” such as bread flour introduce higher levels of protein for agitating with gluten and create that “perfect” crust.
To ensure your pizza attains great status this summer, checkout this basic, no-fail (not, no-knead) pizza dough recipe and some essential tips for making pizza on the grill. Not only are these tips smart, but they’re also quick and easy to follow for your next pizza party right at home.
[ Want more reading? Checkout The Pizza Lab's Complete (Updated) Guide to Grilled Pizza ]
Rule #1: Smart Cooking
Always cook your pizza dough first before topping with the rest of your ingredients. When the crust begins to take a char, remove it from the grill, flip the dough and start loading up the cooked side with your favorite toppings and sauces. The results yield a perfectly cooked crust every time.
Rule #2: Homemade Dough
Use the recipe below for an effortless homemade pizza dough, or buy premade dough balls from the store for just a few bucks (Whole Foods sells a great one in the bakery section). However, don’t be tempted by those middle-of-the aisle pre-rolled creations that have been vacuum-sealed. For this recipe, fresh is best, and you’ll be grateful you took a few extra minutes to roll out the dough whether you made it or bought it fresh.
Rule #3: Creativity
For this Grilled BBQ Chicken Pizza, I’ve swapped regular tomato sauce for a sweet and spicy BBQ sauce made by Stubb’s and saved a lot of time using a store-bought rotisserie chicken, freshwater mozzarella, and caramelized onions.
Since no pizza is finished without a few crunchy garnishes (green onions, for example), I’ve suggested a few extras that add flavor and creativity to any homemade pie. Try a combination of green onions with blue cheese and basil for a gourmet-style pizza right off the grill.
Rule #4: Grease those Grates
When grilling, be sure to grease the grates beforehand and have a fire that’s hot but no more than medium-high. Use a paper towel dipped in olive oil and run it quickly over the grates with grilling tongs.
Rule #5: Blackened, not Burned
Typically, I use a coal-burning grill and a product called “Flare Down” to keep the flames from scorching the bottom of the crust. Gas grills run less of a risk for burning, but in my experience, the crust simply “blackens,” and will not burn unless directly exposed to a flame the entire time. So, watch your grill.
This May, take advantage of south Louisiana’s extra-long spring by moving dinner outside with this easy Grilled BBQ Chicken Pizza, some shortcuts and grilling tips.
Grilled BBQ Chicken Pizza
Yield: 2 Pizzas (4-6 servings each)
* 1 cup warm water
* 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
* 3 cups bread flour
* 2 teaspoons sugar
* 2 teaspoons salt
* olive oil, to coat dough ball
* corn meal, for dusting
* olive oil, for coating
* Salt and Pepper, to taste
* BBQ sauce, such as Stubbs (I used spicy-sweet)
* 3-4 cups mozzarella
* store-bought rotisserie chicken, picked clean
* 1 cup caramelized onions
* ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
* Salt and pepper, to taste
* blue cheese, optional
* green onions, sliced, for garnishing
* basil leaves, for garnishing
SPECIAL EQUIPMENT NEEDED:
* Mezzaluna (my favorite, slicing pizza has never been so fun!)
* Charcoal Grill (also my favorite outdoor cooking method – you just can’t fake the real smoky flavor of a grill!)
1.) For the pizza dough: add dry active yeast to warm water (preferably in a Kitchen-Aid mixing bowl) and rest until foamy or “activated” (about five minutes).
2.) Add salt, sugar and flour to yeast and water mixture, using dough hook on low speed. Continue mixing until a sticky dough forms.*
3.) Add 2 tablespoons olive oil to pizza dough and coat the dough ball fully. Rest dough at room temperature for about an hour in a covered bowl. When dough has doubled in size, “punch” it down or use immediately. Dough can be refrigerated for up to a month and frozen for up to three months.
4.) For the pizza: roll out one half of dough ball on a well-floured surface. Transfer dough to a cornmeal-dusted baking sheet or pizza stone. Puncture the surface all over with a fork and drizzle with olive oil, then season with salt and pepper.
5.) For the grill: warm grill to medium heat and, working in two batches, transfer pizza crust to greased grates (I use a paper towel dipped in olive oil before I make the transfer).
Cover and cook for at 4 minutes or until crust begins to take a char before returning it to a baking sheet (cooked side up).
6.) For the toppings: spoon BBQ sauce over pizza surface, covering even the edges. Dress with 1 to 2 cups mozzarella per pie, chicken, onions and tomatoes to taste. Season pizza with salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with blue cheese (if using).
7.) Return pizza to grill, cover and cook for up to 4 to 6 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden on bottom (make sure to check at 4 minutes). Transfer pizza to serving dish, top with green onions and basil (if using) and rest for several minutes before cutting (this keeps the toppings from sliding off the crust). Slice and share.
*Cook’s Note: a great way to ensure the dough doesn’t rise out of the bowl is to spray your dough hook with non-stick cooking spray beforehand. This step also prevents the dough from sticking to the hook.
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Written by: Helana Brigman