I'm always hard-pressed to turn on my oven in the summer. I'm also pretty obsessed with cooking anything and everything possible on the grill. That naturally leads to a lot of meat and veggie dishes. Of course, there are endless combinations of meat and vegetables to keep me grilling all summer long, but sometimes I want something a little different. Something that's vegetarian but still a hearty meal. That's where grilled pizza comes in. Thankfully, my go-to grilling gurus over at America's Test Kitchen perfectly engineered a pizza dough recipe that's meant to be grilled. It's in their grilling tome Master of the Grill, along with every other grilling recipe you could want, but they shared it with me for your grilling pleasure!
Grilled Tomato and Cheese Pizzas
From the book "Master of the Grill" by America’s Test Kitchen
Why this recipe works:
Grilled pizza is not baked pizza — leave all preconceptions behind. When grilling a pizza, the demands placed on both the pizza and the cook are far different, and far more challenging. To begin with, the dough for our grilled pizza recipe was a challenge: It had to be slack enough to be stretched, yet strong enough not to rip. We strengthened the dough by using high-protein bread flour and increased elasticity by adding plenty of water and olive oil to prevent the crust from sticking to the grill. We also discovered that we needed drier and more potent toppings than usual for our grilled pizza recipe. We salted and drained the tomatoes to keep the crust crisp, and we mixed full-bodied, soft fontina cheese with a little Parmesan for a potently flavored cheese blend that didn’t ooze. If you prefer, you can also eat just the crust plain as a flatbread, merely slicked with our Spicy Garlic Oil, or dressed with any number of simple toppings. Flatbread can serve as a quick appetizer or a light accompaniment to a meal — once it’s been cooked, the coals should still be hot enough to grill meat or fish.
The pizzas cook very quickly on the grill, so before you begin grilling them, have all the equipment and ingredients you need at hand. Equipment includes a pizza peel (or a rimless baking sheet), a pair of tongs, a paring knife, a large cutting board, and a pastry brush; ingredients include all the toppings and a small bowl of flour for dusting. Timing and coordination are crucial; if you are unsure of your skill level, try cooking the first two pizzas one at a time, then work up to cooking the final two in tandem. The pizzas are best served hot off the grill but can be kept warm for 20 to 30 minutes on a wire rack in a 200-degree oven.
For the dough:
- 1 cup water, room temperature
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour plus extra as needed
- 1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour (optional)
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon instant or rapid-rise yeast
For the topping:
- 1 1/2 pounds plum tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into ½-inch pieces
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (1 ½ cups)
- 1 1/2 ounces Parmesan cheese, grated fine (3/4 cup)
- 1 recipe Spicy Garlic Oil (see recipe below)
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
Makes four 9-inch pizzas. If you're going to top the pizza with any of your other favorite toppings, just consider the moisture content before loading them on. Drier toppings work best here.
- For the dough: Combine water and oil in liquid measuring cup. Process bread flour; whole-wheat flour, if using; sugar; salt; and yeast in food processor until combined, about 5 seconds. With processor running, slowly add water mixture; process until dough forms tacky, elastic ball that clears the sides of the work bowl, about 1 1/2 minutes. If dough ball does not form, add more bread flour 1 tablespoon at a time and process until dough ball forms. Spray medium bowl lightly with vegetable oil spray. Transfer dough to bowl and press down to flatten surface; cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in draft-free spot until doubled in volume, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
- When dough has doubled, press down gently to deflate; turn dough out onto counter and divide into 4 equal pieces. With your cupped palm, form each piece into smooth, tight ball. Set dough balls on well-floured counter. Press dough rounds with your hand to flatten; cover loosely with plastic and let rest about 15 minutes.
- For the topping: Meanwhile, toss tomatoes and salt in medium bowl; transfer to colander and let drain for 30 minutes. (Wipe out and reserve bowl.) Shake colander to drain off excess liquid; transfer tomatoes to now-empty bowl and set aside. Combine cheeses in second medium bowl and set aside.
- Gently stretch dough rounds into disks about 1/2 inch thick and 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Working with 1 piece at a time and keeping others covered, roll out each disk to 1/8-inch thickness, 9 to 10 inches in diameter, on well-floured sheet of parchment, dusting with additional bread flour as needed to prevent sticking. (If dough shrinks when rolled out, cover with plastic wrap and let rest until relaxed, 10 to 15 minutes.) Dust surface of rolled dough with flour and set aside. Repeat with remaining dough, stacking sheets of rolled dough on top of each other (with parchment in between) and covering stack with plastic; set aside until grill is ready.
- FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over three-quarters of grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Leave all burners on high.
- Clean and oil cooking grate. Lightly flour pizza peel; invert 1 dough round onto peel, gently stretching it as needed to retain shape. (Do not stretch dough too thin; thin spots will burn quickly.) Peel off and discard parchment; carefully slide round onto hotter side of grill. Immediately repeat with another dough round. Cook (covered if using gas) until tops are covered with bubbles (pierce larger bubbles with tip of paring knife) and bottoms are grill-marked and charred in spots, 1 to 2 minutes; while rounds cook, check undersides and slide to cooler side of grill if browning too quickly. Transfer crusts to cutting board, browned sides up. Repeat with 2 remaining dough rounds.
- Brush 2 crusts generously with garlic oil; top each evenly with one-quarter of cheese mixture and one-quarter of tomatoes. Return pizzas to grill and cover; cook until bottoms are well browned and cheese is melted, 2 to 6 minutes, checking bottoms frequently to prevent burning. Transfer pizzas to cutting board; repeat with remaining 2 crusts. Sprinkle pizzas with basil and kosher salt to taste; cut into wedges and serve immediately.
Spicy Garlic Oil
Makes about 1/3 Cup
- 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Cook all ingredients in small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic begins to sizzle, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to small bowl and set aside.