Pizza on the Grill    

If all of your barbecue parties involve hot dogs and hamburgers, you may want to shake up your menu with a little pizza. Grilling pizza may sound like a strange idea to you, but it isn't really that obscure. If you think about it, it is an age-old technique similar to using a wood-burning oven, which everyone knows produces fantastic pizza. In fact, the dry, hot air inside a grill is a perfect place to cook a pizza.Grilling your pizza gives it a different, earthly, and hearty flavor that is unique and incredibly satisfying. It also lends another level of sensory experience to the art of baking your pizza and is a great social activity.

There are two main approaches to grilling pizza. You can place a pizza stone or unglazed ceramic tiles directly on your grill and place your pizza on that, or you can grill directly on the grill area. To use a pizza stone on your grill, simply heat your grill as usual, using either charcoal or propane. The grill should preheat for at least 20 minutes (until there is white ash on the charcoal if you are using this method). Then place your stone on the grill's grate. Leave the stone on the grill for at about 30 minutes. It is now ready for your topped pizza. Slide it onto the stone using a cornmeal-dusted pizza peel. Cover the grill and bake for 5 to 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden and crispy. Remove from the grill using a peel and serve as usual.

A more fun and flavorful way to grill pizza involves placing your topped pizza directly on the grill grate. That may seem impossible. After all, won't the soft and extremely flexible crust sink down between the bars of the grill? Won't you end up with a terrible mess? Actually, no. It can be done. First, brush the grill surface to remove any residue. The cleaner your grill, the better. Spray the grill with non-stick cooking spray. You can then preheat your grill. Set it to a medium temperature if using a propane grill, or light your coals and let preheat for about 20 minutes. During this time, stretch or roll your dough out to your desired size. To help prevent sticking to the grill grate, brush both sides of your pizza with some olive oil. Place it on a cornmeal-dusted peel, but do not top it. This is important, as the dough must cook for a bit on the grill first and then get flipped before topping it. As soon as your grill is properly heated, slide the dough onto the grill grate. Pop any bubbles you see form as it cooks. If you find that the crust is sticking to the grill, use a spatula to loosen it. You will need to cook the crust for about 5 minutes. What you are looking for is the formation of some grill marks on the bottom of the crust and a very slight browning to the top of the crust.

At this point, remove the pizza from the grill onto your peel. Flip it over so that the cooked side is facing up. Now you can top your pizza with sauce, cheese, and your favorite toppings. When it is ready, slide it back onto your grill (the uncooked side will be facing down onto the grill). Cook your pizza for another five minutes. At this point, check on the bottom of your crust every minute or so. Your crust can burn quite easily, so you need to monitor it often. Once the bottom of the crust looks done, remove it using a peel. Slice it up and enjoy. I'm sure you'll find that this is one of the best pizzas you've tried, and it sure makes for a fun barbecue event. A couple of tips no matter which method you are using:

  • The grill should be very hot. Make sure you give it enough time to preheat properly.
  • You will probably want another person to help you with moving the dough onto the grill. Because this is a very hot surface, you want to make sure that you can support the dough while still getting it on and off, all without burning yourself or dropping the pizza.
  • To enhance the grilled flavor, try topping your pizza with some barbecued chicken or roasted vegetables. Roasted mushrooms, peppers, and onions are nice on grilled pizza.
  • If your grill doesn't have side counter space, place a small table alongside your grill. That way you will have a place to assemble your pizza without having to move far from the grill.
  • Have everything ready to go. Grilling pizza is a hot and quick endeavor, with a bit of danger just to keep things interesting. Searching for the sauce or a large spatula is not what you want to be doing when your pizza is sitting over hot, hot coals.