Thursday, June 5, 2014

Grilled Homemade Pizza

This was some heavy-duty pizza making but I had fun rising to the challenge.  Over lunch I made my own pizza dough using part of my sourdough starter.  I enjoyed kneading the dough while I watched a TV show on my iPad.  Then after work I mixed up my own pizza sauce, not because I'm aiming for a "super cook of the year" award, but out of necessity since we didn't have any canned pizza sauce in the pantry and Husband Jeff declares there's a huge difference between spaghetti/marinara/pasta sauce and pizza sauce.  But the sauce was really easy, it's pretty much just tomato paste and spices.

Once all of the toppings were ready, we preliminarily grilled the crust, topped it, and then put it back on to finish cooking and heat up the toppings. I'm glad I didn't make the sausage or the cheese, but rest assured, I do have two mozzarella cheese making kits, so it's possible! 
Messy homemade pizza sauce. Should have used a bigger bowl.
Of course you don't have to make your own crust, you could use one of those pre-cooked Boboli crusts (use medium heat since you're just warming it) or buy some Trader Joe's premade refrigerated dough.  But if you want pizza tonight and don't want to go to the store, here's a quick 10-minute, four ingredient pizza dough recipe. It doesn't require a lot of kneading and uses a bottle of beer instead of yeast.  I've made it before and it's quite good.

I'm going to cover the general grilling part of the pizza so you understand the concept, but also included the recipes for the pizza crust and the sauce in case you want to try those as well.  


I put only half of the pizza sauce on the pizza since the grilling instructions said not to load it up with sauce or it would get soggy.  I heated up some of the remaining sauce for Husband Jeff so he could dip his pizza since he likes a lot of sauce.

You can make this vegetarian by using your favorite vegetarian pizza toppings.  It can also be dairy-free if you leave off the cheese.  Once upon a time I had an awesome tuna and artichoke pizza that didn't have cheese or red sauce.  So incredibly good.  Maybe a hummus sauce and topped with tuna and artichoke hearts?   Or cheese-free pesto with chicken and tomato slices?


Set up your grill for medium-high heat. 

Pat/stretch the dough until you get the thickness you want.  For grilling I recommend a thinner crust to ensure it gets fully cooked in the middle.  This is not the time for a thick pizza. We have a wide gas grill, not a round kettle charcoal grill, so a long pizza worked out fine.  If you have a round grill, aim for a rounder crust. I'm terrible at rolling out baked goods in a desired shape, I just aim to get it the right thickness.

My dough wasn't sticky, so I was able to roll it out with my rolling pin on my big baking sheet.  I sprinkled the baking sheet with a bit of flour to ensure we could slide it off when the time was right. 
Rolling out the dough.

While the grill was getting up to temperature and Husband Jeff cleaned it off and oiled the grate, I cut two Trader Joe's sweet Italian sausages into rounds.  The sausages are already cooked, but I heated them them in a pan to ensure they got a little brown.   I also chopped up some green olives and pulled out the frozen shredded cheese to let it defrost a bit. 
cooked up the pre-cooked sausage
When the grill is ready, transfer the crust to the grill and cook for about 2 minutes. Thee crust stuck to the baking sheet a tiny bit on one side, but we were able to get it on the grill without any real issues.  After the two minutes, use a pair of tongs to turn the crust 90 degrees and cook it for another minute to get pretty cross-hatch grill marks. Our grill was quite hot and we had to pull it off before the time was up to ensure it didn't burn. 
First grilling of the crust.  A tiny bit darker than I like.
The instructions said to spread the browned side of the crust with olive oil, but I don't know what good that did.  I followed it anyway.  Butter would be good too.
Husband Jeff enjoying wine on the deck while the grill heats up.
After a slathering of olive oil on the grilled side of the crust, add the sauce and toppings on the grilled side as well.  The ungrilled side will go down on the grill so it gets some color (ours got a lot, almost burned that side too!) and close the lid to ensure the toppings get warmed up and the cheese melts.
Finished pizza.  No green olives on Sonny D's side.


Next time we'll turn the grill down, it was really hot.  I would also like to season the crust more, maybe with some herbs and spices but possibly also more salt.  I wish we had a charcoal grill to add that awesome charcoal flavor, but I do like the quickness and ease of lighting up a gas grill.

The instructions I followed for grilling the pizza were kind of confusing and I had to check them several times to make sure I understood what was going on.  It's actually really simple:
  1. Put the raw crust on the grill, cook for about 2 minutes.
  2. Take crust off the grill, flip it so the grilled side is up and cover with sauce and toppings. 
  3. Put the pizza back on the grill and cook for 2-3 more minutes. Slice and enjoy.
I thought the pizza was fine, but I'm not a huge pizza fan.  Husband Jeff loved it and said it was almost as good as his favorite frozen pizza, Jack's rising crust. Sonny D ate several slices, so I think it was a hit with him too. Since I'm the cook, I used my choice of Trader Joe's sweet Italian sausage (love it!) rather than our usual pepperoni topping, but I would have also loved a bunch of mushrooms on it.  My guys are against mushrooms, so I chose to skip them for family harmony. 

Next time I would also look up how to make a chewy Neapolitan pizza crust.  I think that is allowed to rise and rest for at least two days, which I would hope would make it chewier. And probably adding some bread flour rather than all-purpose. 

Maybe next time I would go with smaller rounds of dough so we could each have our own pizza and it would be easier to manage on the grill.  The guys are pretty traditional with their toppings and I want different things, like maybe an Indian pizza with palak paneer, or eggplant and zucchini with mushrooms.  Or a Mexican pizza with enchilada sauce, beans, cheese, tomato, taco meat, and sauteed spinach. 

Wanna Chat?

I turned off the 'leave a comment' feature, so if you want to share what you're thinking about this or anything else, drop me an email at jhk1013 (at) It's so much more cozy than a comment, plus we can have a real conversation!