Recently Laura’s nephew S was asleep in his car seat when his mother pulled into a gas station here in MN. Beside the gas station was one of those tall steel lattice electrical towers. As S slowly started waking up, he looked out the window and with wide eyes said “are we in Paris?”
While S and his younger brother L are still both too young to come visit us in Paris, it hasn’t stopped us from teasing their interest by showing them picture books of the Eiffel Tower, watching Ratatouille and explaining the sail boats and trampolines of the Tuileries gardens.
Since we miss out on seeing them through most of the year, we try to maximize our time with them when we are home over the Summer. So far this summer we have taken them boating, introduced them to a whoopee cushion, brought S to tennis lessons, taught him the “beans, beans, the magical fruit” song and spent countless hours inside of a inflatable squirt gun equipped pool float called the “shark attack”. This past week we picked up S for our grilled pizza making party.
Last Summer we became obsessed with grilling pizzas. Early on we burnt a few and left a couple still raw and doughy. Our biggest hurdle was trying to figure out a way to get the top all bubbly and hot without turning the bottom into charcoal. Our first solution was using the broiler on the oven. While the broiler worked perfectly well, it didn’t feel right having to use two heat sources. Then a friend came up with the idea of a baking sheet to protect the bottom of the pizza from the direct heat of the grill. As the flame licked around the sheet pan the top bubbled from the heat.
The results? The grill gives the crust a crispy and slightly smokey flavor that , more than any other method, mimics the taste of a wood fired oven. As for the taste of the pizzas, I will quote S who took one big bite of his personally designed tomato sauce, sausage and basil pizza, gulped down some milk and said, “this is the best meal ever“.
20 oz (4 cups) bread flour
12 oz h2o
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon active yeast
1 oz olive oil
Place all ingredients in a food processor with the plastic blade or mixer with the hook. Pulse until the ingredients start to form a dough. Remove from food processor or mixer and knead on a lightly floured surface until dough is smooth and elastic. Cut into 4 equally sized pieces and shape into balls. Cover with a kitchen towel and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Roll each ball out into desired thickness (I made mine so you can just see your hand through the dough). Place rolled pizza dough on parchment and repeat with the other dough balls.
Heat grill to highest setting. Place pizza dough on grill surface and carefully peel back parchment. Leave on the surface of the grill for 5 minutes checking often to see how burnt the bottom becomes. When it reaches your desired level of doneness, flip the pizza over and grill the top. Remove the grilled pizzas from the grill and start assembling your pizzas.
Basic pizza sauce
1 28 oz can of peeled tomatoes
1 oz olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
Place all ingredients in a sauce pan on high. Once simmering, reduce to medium and stir occasionally for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes you can crush the tomatoes against the side of the pan for a chunky or puree the whole thing in a blender for a smooth sauce.
Some yummy pizza combinations
Tomato sauce, sweet fennel sausage, pickled cherry pepper and mozzarella.
Tomato sauce, asparagus, radish, ricotta and marjoram.
White pizza, caramelized onions, garlic, white truffle oil, Parmigiana.
White pizza, goat cheese, mozzarella, pears, guanciale.