If you have never tried cooking pizza on the grill with a pizza stone, you are missing out on the taste sensation that may cause you never to leave home again. Cooking pizza on charcoal grill is your passport to authentic flavor, aroma and mouthfeel.
Transport yourself to an historic time and place with your first bite. The sensation will lead you down the road to delight and satisfaction that continues to expand and develop as you try more and different combinations to master grilled pizza. Prepare to be impressed with how quick and easy it is to take and bake pizza on the grill to the right temperature.
Why Grill Pizza?
As the summer heats up, there is typically less desire to cook in the kitchen. It is hot enough without cranking up the oven. That need not stop you, however, from indulging in one of the most popular meal items on any menu: Grilled pizza.
The number one advantage to cooking pizza on charcoal grill is the temperature. Your oven inside the house can get fairly hot for that frozen pie. It can never get to the temperature best suited for the authentic take and bake pizza on the grill though.
Considering your indoor oven may reach from 450 to 500 degrees, your grill can surpass that by reaching anywhere from 600 to 900 degrees. That is quite a difference. Further, cooking pizza on the grill with a pizza stone replicates the stone ovens used by commercial restaurants that give you that sensational combination of crispy, melty, tasty delight that keeps you coming back for more.
Now, imagine you can achieve the same results at home preparing and cooking your own grilled pizza dough. Whether it is frozen pizza on the grill or your own creations made from scratch or, taking advantage of the local pizza parlor, asking to buy one of their dough balls so you can cook it at home on your own grill.
Grilled pizza more often becomes a year-round, in-demand item for both friends and family when you realize how easy it is to prepare. The convenience is augmented by the seemingly limitless options on all that you can top your pizzas with including the ever-popular “make your own pizza” party. If you happen to have a green thumb, you may even have an abundance of fresh items growing in your yard.
3 Ways to Grill Pizza
Not only is the grill the ideal cooker for pizza, but it is versatile in the different ways you can set it up to make grilled pizza. First there is cooking pizza on the grill with a pizza stone. Secondly, your grilled pizza dough can be cooked directly on the grates. Finally, you can arrange your heat from coals or gas to make your grill perform just like an oven.
1. Use a pizza stone
Widely available, pizza stones can be used in a conventional oven as well as on the grill to give you a surface that replicates the stone floor of an old-fashioned Italian brick pizza oven. You will see restaurants that have these types of ovens for cooking their pizzas.
It is used as the cooking surface and placed inside the grill as it heats up. The stone gets very hot and holds the heat well. It delivers the intensity of heat more directly producing the properly grilled pizza dough while efficiently cooking the toppings and melting the cheeses simultaneously.
Using a stone, you can prepare your pizza as you would normally, stretching the dough, applying the sauce and cheeses and then the toppings. It is worth having a paddle or pizza peel handy to transfer the pie to and from the stone. Using cornmeal on the stone and flour on the paddle prevents the pizza from sticking to the surfaces.
Whether you like to roll out your dough or stretch it, keep it no more than ¼-inch thick. A 10 to 12-ounce dough ball is ideal. It is best to have all your pizza ingredients including the dough reach room temperature to assist in the timing. Some home-pizza chefs consider cooking on the stone allows them to add raw meat items to their pies. Grilled pizza cooks quicker than in a conventional oven. Precooking your raw items and blanching vegetables such as broccoli assures the best texture and proper cooking.
Cooking pizza on the grill with a pizza stone can take 10 to 12 minutes. Cook with the grill lid closed and the temperature at 500 degrees or until the crust is browned. After the first five minutes, check on it and rotate the pie for more even cooking. You will certainly smell it if the crust starts to burn. Transferring the pizza onto and off the stone with a paddle helps you keep it from losing any of the goodies.
2. Throw it directly on the grate
Whether you are cooking home-made or frozen pizza on the grill, smaller or less powerful grills do a good job directly on the grate. You still want to get that temperature up to at least 500 degrees. You also want to pre-cook your raw meats such as chicken, sausage, shrimp or ground beef. At the same time you are cooking your meats, you can roast your garlic or grill the onions.
If the dough is relaxed and at room temperature, it is easier to shape. Grilled pizza dough cooks fast. IT is recommended that you use a dough ball that is 8 to 10-ounces per pie and formed to a maximum thickness of ¼-inch. Apply your toppings sparingly. You do not want to risk a soggy center that can slip through the grate.
Apply a little olive oil first on the grate before laying the dough down and then to the top as it cooks. After about 3-minutes, turn the dough and the top now becomes the bottom. Have your ingredients at the ready as you only have a few seconds to layer them on. Keep the sauce to a minimum applying with a spoon ad using the rounded back to spread it from the center outward.
Next goes on the cheese of your choice, then your ingredients and the meats should go on last for the best cooking results. Your cooking tie with this method is only a total of about four minutes. Before inviting the guests over, practice this once or twice until you get the hang of how quickly the process goes.
3. Turn your grill into an oven
You can arrange your charcoal briquettes in your grill to manipulate the hot and cool zones. It is possible to use your grilling surface like a stove top with a main burner, if you will. You may fid having a cool area you can shift things to slows down the cooking as you are trying to get everything done right and at the same time.
It can take more practice to learn how to cook on the hot zone, rotating the dough to get it to cook evenly and then moving it over to prevent it from overcooking. Kettle grills or kamado grills are known for the way the heat surrounds the grate. It is important to cook with the lids closed to get the heat to circulate effectively.
Whatever the method you use, keep one thing in mind: Less is more. Avoid overloading your pizzas as it interferes with the proper cooking. The key to perfectly grilled pizza is the crust. Too many ingredients render the dough soggy and ruins the whole experience. Frozen pizza ca be grilled indirectly for up to 20 minutes or you can follow the directions on the packaging.
4 Factors that Determine Success for Grilling Pizza
Grilled pizza is versatile, fun to make and a pleasure to eat. Once you get your system of making them down to a system, invite your guests to build their own. One approach to making your system a success is to follow the four factors to making a grilled pizza a success each and every time.
1. It starts with Type
Before you even fire up the grill, you need to know what type of pizza you want to grill. These include fresh, frozen and one yet to be discussed here, Chicago-style deep dish pizza. One of the methods of cooking is in a metal pan or a skillet to which you add sufficient oil and use a thicker dough to make this hot, delicious, crunchy thick dough pizza. It is the oil that makes the crust so good.
2. Next comes the Technique
The technique also coincides with the type of pizza. You set up your grill to use either direct or indirect heat as well as the option to use a pizza stone. Direct heat means just that – placing the pizza directly over the heat source.
Indirect heat turns your grill into another form of oven like in your kitchen. You can control the hot and cool zones to make the most of your timing. This is typically used to cook deep-dish or frozen pizzas.
Key to using the pizza stone is heating up the stone with the grill so it comes to a high heat temperature and holds that heat throughout the cooking process.
When using a pizza stone, the key step is to preheat the stone over direct heat for 30 minutes.
3. Temperature is your third factor in grilling pizza
If you tap into these temperatures, you can rely on the results. Starting with direct heat, your temperature range needs to be within the 425 to 450-degree range. Consistent heat in this zone will produce the grill marks on the dough as well as achieving the melted cheese that has that golden appearance on top.
Indirect heat temperature is a little lower between 375 to 400-degrees. This is helpful in that you can avoid burning the bottom of the crust.
Using a pizza stone, you need to be even higher from between 450 to 475-degree range. As long as the stone is brought up to temp before you place the pizza on it, which can take up to half an hour, you can be sure the pizza will not burn or stick to the stone.
4. Time – The final factor is Time
You have the most cooking time with deep-dish style pizza taking from 30 to 40-minutes depending on the toppings and the size of the pizza.
Frozen pizza is similar to what you would do in a conventional oven grilling it directly for anywhere from 16 to 20-minutes or following the instructions on the box.
Using a pizza stone, you can expect it to take from 7 to 10-miutes cooking time.
Fresh grilled pizza cooked directly on the grate over the flame takes the least amount of time at only 3 to 4-minutes. You can either remove it from the grill to add your toppings on the side that has cooked or you can flip it right on the grate and then add your items directly. Keep in mind the clock is ticking if you decide to do it this way.
Critical Temperature When Grilling Pizza
Your dough must not be too cold or the yeast will not perform correctly. Too hot and it can destroy the process. The ideal temperature of the water to activate the yeast is from 105 to 120-degrees.
When kneading your dough, achieving a classic crust depends on the gluten development. This gluten connectivity is produced by kneading the dough, which makes it stretchier and elastic. This process may take up to 10-minutes to achieve. You can use a mixer with a dough hook. Then, you want to leave the dough to rise.
Dough temperature in the 80s rises quickly. Lower, such as in the 70s and it will take longer. You can let it rise in a barely warm oven. You may also proof the dough in a cooler oven with a warm pan of water in the bottom. The ideal temperature to proof is when the air temperature is 85 degrees. Allow the dough to double in size before shaping your pie.
The pizza stone surface temperature is best when it is at 570 degrees. You can place the dough on a stone once it reaches this temperature and build your pie right there. Check the bottom of the crust to check on how it is doing. If the temp is high enough, the crust will be well-browned and the cheese on top will be bubbly and brown.
Once you get started grilling your own pizzas, you open the door to a whole new world of flavors and quality that you continue to improve upon. The more you do, the more you know and the better your pizzas and your fame for being a grilled pizza pro.
Purchasing a ThermoPro meat thermometer gives you the ultimate advantage in perfecting your pies. When you have the ultimate control of your tools and devices, you can count on the results. There is no reason to wait. Roll up those sleeves, roll or stretch your dough and get to grilling the best home-made grilled pizzas you will ever enjoy. You won’t want to have pizza any other way again.