Not Your Average Pizza

 Pizza. We eat tons of it. Take-out pizza is the food of choice for most birthday parties we attend for the kids and their friends.

You're probably thinking "Gee, Jenny. Don't you get tired of nasty, cardboard-tasting crust from pizza chains?"

Why, yes. Yes, we get tired of cheap pizza.  So you know what that means.  We either go to a good pizza place or make some at home. Cuz, that's how I roll.

Then, one day this summer, I was chatting with a coworker about homemade pizza. She gave me the low-down on grilled pizza. Here's me, the wanne-be foodie thinking OMG why have I not already tried that?

I've done plenty of normal pizza, and even folding it up into a calzone. Being out in the West, with a fancy propane grill and all, I figured I had to try it. So you should, too.  Now if grilling pizza is not your thing, don't freak out.  I have instructions for regular oven-baked pizza, or turning it into calzone, along with grilling details below.

1 packet active yeast (or 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast)
1 1/2 cups warm water (about 110F or so)
1 Tablespoon honey
2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 cups unbleached AP flour plus extra for kneading
1 teaspoon salt
semolina or cornmeal for dusting cooking trays
various pizza toppings of your choice (ideas below)

1. Place the warm water in a mixing bowl and stir in the honey. Sprinkle the yeast on top. Let the yeast dissolve and proof about 5 minutes. Add the olive oil and stir.

2.  Mix the flour and salt together.  Pour all of it into the yeast mixture and mix until it forms a smooth dough. I recommend using a stand mixer with a dough hook and running on low.  If the dough is too sticky, sprinkle in a little more flour, about 1 tablespoon at a time. When the dough starts to pull away from the bowl, turn the mixer up to medium and let it mix about 5 minutes.

3. Turn the dough out onto a floured flat surface an knead by hand another 2-3 minutes.  (If it sticks at all, sprinkle the surface with additional flour to keep in from sticking. Knead the dough until it is elastic and doesn't stick to your hands.)

4.  Form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it rise in a warm place until doubled.

5. Remove dough from the bowl. Divide the dough by cutting it with a serrated knife. Reshape into balls. I usually cut the ball in half, and then save one half for a large pizza and divide the remaining half in half again for kid-size pizzas.  Place your newly shaped dough balls on a cookie sheet covered with plastic wrap to rise for another 30 minutes. (For the picture below, I made a double batch.)

6. When you're ready to make pizza, preheat the oven or grill to about 500F.  Stretch or roll out a ball of dough to your desired pizza size.

7. To cook in the oven: Sprinkle a flat cookie sheet or pizza stone with semolina or corn meal.  Lay out the pizza dough and stretch again to desired size if it shrunk. Spread tomato sauce on top, add other toppings. We normally make it with mozzarella cheese, Canadian bacon, and pineapple tidbits.  Bake it about 15 minutes. The crust should brown on the underside and the cheese will melt.

8. To cook on the grill:  Place dough on the grill but do not add toppings. Grill it until the bottom is cooked with light grill marks.  Flip it over and continue grilling while you add toppings.  Again, cook until the cheese melts and the bottom gets browned with grill marks. The time will vary depending on your grill. So cook it until it looks done.

9. To make calzone: Using a large ball of dough, shape it into a large circle. Place it on a cookie sheet dusted with semolina or corn meal.  Add toppings to half of the circle.  We use pizza sauce and a few tablespoons of ricotta cheese, followed by various toppings. Once filled not too full, flip the other side of the dough over top and seal it up by pinching and turning the edges together to seal it.  Do not cut any holes in the top.  Bake it about 20 minutes, or until the crust is browned and crisp.

Topping ideas:
  • tomato sauce, sauteed onions and garlic, cooked sausage, sliced black olives, shredded colby jack and mozzarella cheese
  • tomato sauce, oven roasted garlic, proscuitto, ricotta, shredded mozzarella
  • oven roasted garlic, olive oil, cooked and sliced chicken, cooked and sliced thin red potato, fontina cheese, sauteed onions
  • basil pesto, spinach, artichoke hearts, cooked and sliced chicken, shredded mozzarella cheese
  • tomato sauce, sliced rounds of fresh buffalo mozzarella, fresh whole Genovese basil leaves, with sliced Roma tomatoes
  • tomato sauce, Canadian bacon, pineapple tidbits, shredded colby jack and mozzarella cheese
  • tomato sauce, pepperoni and shredded mozzarella cheese
  • tomato sauce, Canadian bacon, pepperoni, sausage, salami, shredded cheese, green bell pepper, green onion
  • BBQ sauce, cooked and sliced chicken, shredded colby jack and mozzarella cheese, green onions
  • BBQ sauce, pulled pork, shredded colby jack and mozzarella cheese, green onions


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