Monday, August 20, 2007

Pizza on the Grill

In summertime, I cook just about everything on the grill. I love to grill burgers, ribs, chicken, fish, and veggies, but perhaps my favorite grilled food is pizza. There are no special gadgets required to turn out delicious, crisp pizza. All you need is a hot grill, all the ingredients for your favorite pizza, and a watchful eye.

Before you get started, preheat your gas grill to high for about 10 minutes (or 450 degrees). While you're waiting for the grill to heat up, prepare your pizza ingredients. The members of my family are purists when it comes to pizza, so Pizza Margherita is our pie of choice (red sauce and mozzarella cheese). To make things simple, I use store-bought pizza dough, and my favorite prepared tomato sauce (which for me, is Victoria brand). However, I do not cut corners on the cheese, opting to grate my own mozzarella rather than buying the pre-shredded variety. Most shredded cheeses have additives to prevent clumping, and I prefer to eat my cheeses without de-clumpers, thank you very much! It is also a good idea to use regular mozzarella cheese rather than fresh mozzarella, which tends to have a high water content. The regular mozzarella melts much better, and will not release a lot of liquid on top of your pizza.
To stretch the pizza dough, I coat my hands in olive oil rather than flour. I find the oil helps the dough stretch more easily, in addition to adding flavor. Be liberal with the oil, as it will keep your pizza from sticking to the cooking grates as well. Once stretched, place the dough on your hot grill grates and immediately turn the heat down to medium. Close the grill cover, and allow it to cook for about 5 minutes.
While I don't recommend opening the grill cover frequently, you will need to check to be sure the bottom of the pizza is not burning. This can happen very quickly, so definitely do not walk away for too long. Although my husband actually likes the burned crust, my kids and I prefer it a little on the lighter side. Once the pizza's bottom is golden brown, flip it over, and add your toppings to the cooked side (which is now facing up). Cook an additional 5-7 minutes until the bottom is browned, and the toppings are bubbly. Carefully remove the pizza to a platter, cut and serve.

Grilling pizza gives it incredible flavor, a fantastic crispy crust, and avoids a mess in the kitchen! So, the next time you're tempted to order out for pizza, consider "grilling out "instead!
Grilled Pizza
Serves 4
1 lb prepared pizza dough (available in the refrigerator section of most grocery stores)
1 cup prepared tomato sauce
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
3 T grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (optional)
Follow directions above.

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