Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Winter-Friendly Grilled Pizza

With the cold weather starting to creep in, the pleasure Beppo and I take in certain outdoor cooking activities starts to wane. Don't get me wrong, we'll grill all winter long if we can (or until the snowdrifts cover the grill), but sometimes, we just don't want to stand out in the cold waiting for the perfect sear.

One item I really enjoyed cooking on the grill this summer was pizza. The flavor is great, the crust gets nice and crispy and I don't have to preheat my oven to "incinerate" for 45 minutes just for 8 minutes of baking. I recently bought a grill pan (a cheap one, at Marshalls, for about $20) and thought to give stovetop grilled pizza a try.

It worked really well, and with a little top-side broiling, the pizza was everything we wanted in a pie. Even better, no 45-minute oven-preheat, so I had our dinner on the table in less than half an hour. No smoky flavor, but that was an acceptable tradeoff. You could approximate smokiness with the gourmet's version of liquid smoke: smoked paprika sprinkled over the pizza.

Very rudimentary recipe for pan-grilled pizza
  • 1 ball pizza dough
  • 1 large grill pan or skillet (you could also do this in two or three smaller pans, or free form on a stove top grill)
  • olive oil
  • toppings of choice (don't put too much on: my pizza was topped with tomato paste, sauteed swiss chard, spicy olives and mozzarella and asiago cheeses)
Roll the dough into a circle about the size of your grill pan (a little smaller is better since the dough will stretch when you lift it).

Heat the grill pan until very hot. Drizzle on some olive oil. Drape the dough round into the pan. You should be able to flatten it out if it wrinkles; try to get it mostly flat in the pan. Reduce the heat to medium-high. Cook the dough round until the underside is crisp and speckled with brown.

Using tongs, flip the dough round over to cook the other side. Reduce the heat to medium to medium-low. (This depends on the thickness of your crust, you want it to cook through but not burn. The thicker the crust, the lower the heat.)

While the underside is cooking, dress the top of your pizza with your topping choices. When the bottom of the pizza is cooked (use your tongs to help you take a peek) and the crust is evenly golden, the pizza is done. I ran the pan under the broiler for about 5 minutes to get the cheese all nice and bubbly, but that's not a requirement.


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