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May 8, 2012

Grilled Pizza
Posted by Jim Macdonald at 10:50 AM * 38 comments

This recipe is courtesy of, and with the permission of, my friend Alice Loweecey, an ex-nun who writes mysteries. (He’s an ex-cop with a dirty mouth and a soft heart, she’s a former nun with a big secret … they fight crime!)

Grilled Pizzas

1 lb. store bread dough OR here’s my bread machine recipe:
1½ cups water
2 Tbl oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
4 cups flour
4 tsp yeast (regular, not the “bread machine” kind)
1 Tbl gluten

1 lb. shredded mozzarella cheese
1 jar sauce if you don’t have any homemade handy
1 lb. roll sausage, cooked, cooled, and crumbled
1 pkg sliced pepperoni
½ green pepper, sliced thin
(or any other toppings you might prefer)

When dough is done, spray grill with cooking spray and turn it on to its highest setting. Split dough into 8 pieces. Roll each piece into circles, more or less. (I use a rolling pin because it’s easier than hand-tossing.)

Depending on the size of your grill, set 2-4 circles on it, and lower the heat to medium-high. Cook till they bubble up, usually one huge bubble. Pop bubble and check the bottoms. you should see nice brown grill marks. This will take about 4 minutes. Take them off and put the next batch on. Repeat till all the circles are cooked on one side.

Bring them back inside and turn them over so the grill marks are face up. This prevents burned bottoms and soggy tops. Spread 2 Tbl. of sauce on each pizza, leaving ¼” edge bare. place desired toppings on each. Cover completely with a thin coating of cheese.

Re-spray the grill and put them on 2-3 at a time, cooking till the cheese is melted and the bottoms have nice brown grill marks, about 4 minutes.

Cool a bit, cut into halves or quarters, and nom.

Cooking with Light (recipe index)
Comments on Grilled Pizza:
#1 ::: -dsr- ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 12:21 PM:

With a little more care and about $2 in extra equipment, you can make this even better.

The extra equipment is 2 to four unglazed fire tiles. You can pick these up cheaply at a hardware store, Home Despot or what-have-you. They'll be about 6-8" square. Take them home, wash them off with a little detergent, and dry them thoroughly before use.

Before you start your grill, put down the tiles on the grill so that they touch each other. You now have the world's cheapest pizza stone. Light it up and keep the grill on high at all times. Get a big steel spatula.

Next modification: make sure you roll the pizzas out very thinly. 1/8" or less. Get all your toppings ready -- sauce, cheese, whatever -- and arrange them nearby.

Don't spray the tiles. When the temperature is horrendously high, open the lid, carefully put down a round, and immediately sauce it, cheese it, top it. Close the lid. In 30 to 45 seconds, open it up and check for doneness. If the pizza isn't being cooked thoroughly in 45 seconds, your grill is not hot enough.

700F is hot enough.

At temperatures exceeding 900F, cooking times will be short enough that you won't have time to get more than one topping on.

Slide the pizza off with the big steel spatula to a waiting plate.

#2 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 02:09 PM:

She isn't a beautiful redhead who used to be a Poor Claire, is she?

#3 ::: TinaMarie ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 02:16 PM:

@dsr: I find this to be a constant when cooking. Almost any recipe can be improved by the addition of a bit more care and a few dollars in equipment. The secret is knowing when you're past the point of diminishing returns. I'm willing to spend $2 to improve pizza by 10%, but after a few rounds of that, you get to a point where you'd have to spend $25 and half an hour for a 2% improvement.

Like so much else in life, it's all about finding your personal sweet spot on the curve.

#4 ::: eric ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 03:06 PM:

I want to make a wood fired pizza oven in the back yard. Until then, I do oven pizza on parchment on a stone. Parchment paper is the best thing evar.

1#8oz bread flour (king arthur these days)
1#3.5oz water
1 oz olive oil
1Tbsp salt
1Tbsp Yeast (red star instant is working for me these days)

Mix, knead on lightly oiled surface. Let sit most of the day. Divide into 2 balls, oil and let sit for another hour. Heat oven to 450, Stretch and toss dough, cover with toppings and ~8oz cheese. Bake for ~15 minutes per.

Fav toppings combos these days: Salmon, goat cheese and caramelized onion; Caramelized onion, pear and gorgonzola; and the classic tomato, basil, braised garlic. Though, really, the tomato one is only good in late summer when the ingredients are fresh.

#5 ::: jennythereader ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 04:38 PM:

@TinaMarie #3 -

This is a similar concept to what my husband and I call the Alton Brown Step: an additional step that improves what ever you're working on by 5%, but requires 10% more effort on your part.

#6 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 08, 2012, 05:57 PM:

#5 jennythereader:

For our household, the Alton Brown Step is the one that requires an outlay of cash for equipment we've not managed to buy any time in the last several decades.

#7 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 03:29 AM:

A couple of my friends were once renting a house that had a wood-fired pizza oven in the back yard, roughly a six-foot cube with the pizza section in the top foot or two. They did a couple of pizza parties the year they lived there. When I got to one of them, the digital thermometer said the oven temperature was about 1050 degrees F. Pizza took under a minute to cook. By the end of the party it had cooled down to a mere 800 degrees, but cooking time was still pretty fast.

#8 ::: jennythereader ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 09:50 AM:

I completely refuse to do those. Special equipment only gets purchased if there have been multiple recipes in the recent past that I've wanted to make but been unable to because I didn't have it.

With exceptions made for things that are less than $10 and either don't take up much space, or that I think I will be able to use in multiple ways.

#9 ::: Torrilin ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 10:08 AM:

Dunno. Special is maybe in the eye of the beholder?

I mean, looking at 'em, you would not think that the 5mm lip on a cast iron griddle is going to be all that different from the 2cm lip on the small cast iron frying pan, or that either will be all THAT different from the 4-5cm lip on the big frying pan. The actual cooking surfaces are close to the same sizes. Yet if you want to do pizza as in this recipe, you can do a stovetop version with the griddle. You can't with the other two pans without a lot more cursing and fuss. The griddle makes crepes easier too. And quesadillas. And pancakes. And bacon. Probably omelets too, in the French style. It also will handily go in the oven to allow various other neat tricks, like faking being a pizza stone.

To me, a kitchen gadget is something that is relatively mono-purpose. I'm not fond of them. But having a good tool that encourages you to keep finding new neat things to do? Great fun.

#10 ::: a chris ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 10:31 AM:

Wow, sounds a lot nicer than my version, an illustrated play-by-play of which I've posted, but won't link to, because I haven't commented a whole lot here. (Tellingly, this can easily be located with a search for "BBQ pizza" and "only eat the top.")

I'll refer back to this post and the comments for sensible approaches the next time I want to get adventurous with pizza (or next time the oven is broken).

#11 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 10:43 AM:

*Cooking* *spray*? What! Is that as horrible as it sounds? Do we have such things on this side of the ocean? Cognitive dissonance sets in!

And then gets compounded as this Brit who was thinking "What is so special about grilled pizza? Isn't that a common cheapo student snack? But won't the dough still be soft?" realised that when you say "grill" you don't actually mean "grill" but a girdle or griddle pan - or possibly even something that we'd think of as a barbecue...

#12 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 11:07 AM:

Ken Brown (11): Cooking spray is vegetable oil in a spray can. Makes it easier to coat a pan evenly with a very thin layer of oil. Or that's the theory, anyway.

#13 ::: David Wald ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 11:17 AM:

Mary Aileen@12: Cooking spray is vegetable oil in a spray can. Makes it easier to coat a pan evenly with a very thin layer of oil.

Also surrounding areas of the countertop, stove, floor...

#14 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 11:22 AM:

Ken, #11: You've gotten an explanation of "cooking spray". In return, could you perhaps explain what "grill" means to you? I'm not getting anywhere trying to extrapolate from your post.

#15 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 11:25 AM:

British grill = American broiler.

Also, I want to see a picture of a girdle pan.

#16 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 11:31 AM:

abi @ 15... I want to see a picture of a girdle pan

(inserts wolf whistles)

#17 ::: Amiable Dorsai ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 11:42 AM:

Ken, #11: Fry Light is a cooking spray. You can buy it at Tesco. At least, you could the last time I was in the UK.

#19 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 01:44 PM:

Lee @14 for us "grilling" is the same as "toasting". Cooking by radiant heat. We don't use the word "broil" but I am assured that's the same as toasting for Americans.

In some ways its our most characteristic way of cooking. Pretty much every kitchen oven in Britain has a grill attached. How else could you make cheese on toast?

The sausages and bacon in a traditional British fried breakfast - which is actually quite rarely encountered in real life outside hotels and the kind of cafes builders go to at 6am - are as often as not grilled rather than fried. That is they are cooked on a sort of movable tray placed underneath a source of radiant heat. Along with slices of tomatoes (grilled tomato must be one of the slimiest ilest foods known to science, like mysteriously bloody and waterlogged sliced slug - it can be made palatable by the addition of unhealthy amounts of salt and Worcester sauce though.).

But our real national food is of course, toast. :-)

#20 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 01:50 PM:

Also, while we don't say "broil", to us a "broiler" is, or was, a bird bred to be cooked. Not a word I see much these days, I think its a bit old-fashioned.

#21 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 03:08 PM:

Ken Brown #19:

To this USA-ian, conditioned by labeling on my toaster oven, toasting means heat is applied on both sides, while with broiling, it comes only from the top.

#22 ::: thanate ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 04:49 PM:

I grew up in a house with a very old GE flat toaster (which apparently my mother got as a wedding gift, when someone misinterpreted her request for a toaster oven) and have always been confused by the idea of why anyone would want a toaster in which you cannot make melty cheese or cinnamon sugar toast.

Of course, when I went to get my own flat toaster, the only thing I could find was a toaster oven.

#23 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 04:54 PM:

Elaborating on joann @21: As I use the terms, "broiling" is cooking with radiant heat from the top only, "toasting" is cooking with radiant heat from both sides, and "grilling" is cooking with radiant heat from the bottom only. My toaster oven has a "broil" setting, by which only the upper element gets hot. It does not have a "grill" setting, and it only now occurs to me to wonder why.

This is all complicated by regional variation and a few cases of idiom -- marshmallows, for example, are always "toasted" even though they're being held over the hot coals of the grill (or the campfire). This usage may go back to the British "toasting fork" for making toast when all you have is a fireplace.

BTW, I am 100% with Ken about the ickiness of grilled tomatoes. A lot of Middle Eastern restaurants here serve roasted tomatoes along with the rice, and they are nasty. And I like tomatoes, so that disappoints me.

#24 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 09, 2012, 07:35 PM:

Lee #23: I think that heating from below is likely handled by the "bake" part, and if there isn't one of those, whyInHeck is it called an oven?

#25 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 08:35 AM:

A tomato that's grilled only until it's hot through is pretty good. It's dry on the top surface. (Try grilled halved cherry tomatoes; they're good for this.)

Off to assemble lunch and go to work. (I hope they get the sidewalk finished soon. It's an extra half mile each way until then.)

#26 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 09:48 AM:

joann (24): "Bake" heats from above as well as below; "grill" would heat *only* from below.

My personal definition of grilling includes the food being on a rack rather than a solid surface, although a grill pan (with raised ridges across to resemble a rack) almost counts. Using a flat griddle does not.

#27 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 10:38 AM:

Mary Aileen @26:

My personal definition of grilling includes the food being on a rack rather than a solid surface, although a grill pan (with raised ridges across to resemble a rack) almost counts. Using a flat griddle does not.

I agree entirely, but I do call the sandwich made by putting cheese between two slice of bread, buttering the outsides, and cooking the sandwich on a pan on the stovetop a "grilled cheese sandwich", despite no grill being involved.

#28 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 10:50 AM:

lorax #27:

But there *is* a grill involved in the classic grilled cheese sandwich: the stovetop flat surface beloved of short-order cooks and old hamburger joints.

Is it also possible that grilling in general may involve heating element (or flames extruding therefrom) in actual contact (intermittent at least) with either food or pan the food is in? This would accommodate both outdoor grilling and griddle or grill pan on stove.

#29 ::: lorax ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 10:56 AM:

A "flat surface" of any type is not a grill in my usage, though. I'd call that thing a griddle.

#30 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 10:57 AM:

lorax (27): My family called the cooked-on-griddle version 'toasted cheese sandwiches'*; the 'grilled cheese sandwiches' from restaurants all seem to have grill marks on them (not that I've made an exhaustive study of the matter).

*Our first flat toaster** was wonderful--toasted cheese whenever we wanted! The actual griddle-cooked sandwiches were still better, however.

**Superseded by toaster ovens, which are handy in many ways but just not the same for toasting.

#31 ::: Ken Brown ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 03:12 PM:

Now hereabouts a cheese toastie (AKA "toasted cheese sandwich") is cooked in the grill - in other words what you guys call a broiler. You turn it over at half time. Classic pub snack. Ordinary cheese on toast (yum!) stays the right way up of course, or else the cheese dribbles off.

Lee #23 "marshmallows, for example, are always "toasted" even though they're being held over the hot coals of the grill (or the campfire). This usage may go back to the British 'toasting fork' for making toast when all you have is a fireplace."

That usage is simply what we mean by toasting - cooking by radiant heat. It doesn't matter if the heat is from a fire, a pop-up toaster, an oven, or a grill (in our sense - from what's written above and the links given I'm begining to think that the nearest American thing to it is what you are calling a "flat toaster" - another name we don't have.) I'd guess that toasting with a toasting fork precedes toasting under an electric grill by some millenia! And you don't just to it when all you have is a fireplace. Sometimes you do it because its fun. I'm sure we were never without an oven with a grill when I was a kid but I do remember toasting bread in front of the fire. Of course nowadays I live in London so I don't have a fire :-(

Hmmmmm. Cheese on toast. I have bread. I have cheese. I have DVDs of the first series of "Game of Thrones"... maybe I have the beginings of a Plan...

#32 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 03:25 PM:

Ken Brown (31): Judging from a Google Image search, 'flat toaster' is the wrong name for what I mean. What we had was more like an open-fronted toaster oven that did nothing but toast. I haven't seen one in many years, not since toaster ovens became common; Wikipedia doesn't even acknowledge that they exist(ed).

#33 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 03:58 PM:

Found it! We had one of these.

#34 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 09:23 PM:

The grilled cheese sandwiches my parents made were done on the flat-surfaced side of the plates in the waffle iron. Heated from both sides at once, and weighted so they weren't going to come apart.

I've done nuked cheese sandwiches. It is so not a real grilled cheese sandwich, but it will do in a pinch.

#35 ::: thanate ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 09:35 PM:

Mary Aileen @33: That is what I was attempting to describe upthread (#22). The only one I've ever seen is still in my parents' kitchen (though after 40 years it's needed at least one cord surgery to keep it going.)

And I agree, my toaster oven doesn't actually make toast as well.

#36 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: May 10, 2012, 09:52 PM:

thanate (35): I thought at the time that you and I were talking about the same thing; glad to know I was correct. But it turns out that 'flat toaster' is the name for something else entirely. I still can't find a name for our kind of toaster other than 'toaster', which is...not helpful. (I found that image by searching eBay for "vintage toaster" then scrolling waaaaaay down.) As best I can tell, they were only sold for a short while, in the early 1970s, then were completely superseded by toaster ovens.

My parents now own both a toaster oven (for when they don't want to use the big oven) and a pop-up toaster (for actual toast).

#37 ::: Colin ::: (view all by) ::: May 20, 2012, 01:42 AM:

4 teaspoons of yeast is weirdly excessive for this dough - one teaspoon, and a little time, is plenty. (Indeed you would do fine with a half teaspoon - years makes more of itself, and a slower fermentation produces better-tasting results.) Neither sugar nor gluten are needed. For that matter a bread machine is *especially* extraneous for pizza dough. I'd suggest The Fresh Loaf and ChefTalk for better advice.

#38 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: May 26, 2012, 01:19 PM:

@Colin #37

Bless you.

You don't have to cook for a family with teens, do you, or write books for a living.

You do realize you're not on the Epicurious site, and that Macdonald is not Gordon Ramsay and you're no Eric Rippert?

@albatross #2 Yes. Yes she is.

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