Pizza has a special place in my heart. I’ve made, warmed up, ordered, picked up, reheated and plain ate a ton of pizza over the past 30+ years. My favorite pizza of all time was the Tombstone pizza that my dad would buy for me in the bars of Blair, Wisconsin. This is where my dad grew up and we would visit my grandfather every few years for vacation.
You see my grandfather was a bit of a bad ass, actually much more of a bad ass than my dad. When I started going back to Wisconsin at the tender age of 12, I was always allowed in the bars. Everyone knew my grandfather and even though he was in his ’70s at the time, they respected and still feared him. They would break the rules, hence I was never bothered in any of the bars, would have full run and, well, occasionally I could have a bit of beer.
Back then my dad, grandfather and I would go fishing all day long, almost every day then many nights we would take a trip to one of the 17 bars in Blair, population 1,100, circa 1980. Between playing pool, sneaking a drink here and there and well, eating pizza, I had the time of my life.
Rivaling my childhood pizza memories was the trip Nancy and I took recently to Italy for our honeymoon. I couldn’t get enough pizza when I was there and I think I ordered some almost every day, 17 days in total. True Italian pizza is in my opinion is the best you can get. Yes I love all types, but the thin crispy crust with a few toppings, it’s simplicity at its best.
Fast forward to present times… Even though I’ve eaten 100s and 100s of pizzas, unbelievably I’ve never grilled one on my barbecue. I’ve thought about it quite a bit, but for some reason, I guess I chickened out. I end up throwing them in the oven. Good but not great!
So this past Sunday I finally worked up the courage to give it a try and let me tell you, it was awesome. I did take a shortcut and used dough I purchased at our local bread shop and I used Trader Joe’s pizza sauce, but the basil was from our garden and I used fresh mozzarella for one of them and shredded mozzarella and pepperoni for the other.
By all means you can make the dough yourself. I’ve done it before and it’s very rewarding. But all you have to do is call the local bread shop. We purchase ours for something like a buck per pound.
This post is for all of us who don’t have a ton of time and want to get some great pizza on the table, after work, without any hassle. Better yet, invite all of your friends over, purchase a bunch of different toppings and throw an awesome party. Your guests will be talking about it all summer long.
Grilled Pizza Margherita or Grilled Pizza Whatever
- 1 Bottle of TJ’s Pizza Sauce or Homemade Sauce
- 1 pound of Pizza Dough – Divided then formed into two balls
- 6 to 8 ounces of Fresh Mozzarella cut into cubes
- 6 to 8 Fresh Basil Leaves, medium sized
- Optional – caramelized onions, Pepperoni, Salami, etc, etc.
Set up your grill. If using charcoal then you will want to light about 40 coals. When ready spread them out on one side of the grill so you have a cool side and a hot side. If using a gas grill, light all the burners, close the lid and heat to high. You will then turn the front burner off completely when ready to grill the pizza. This will be your cool zone.
Lightly oil a large baking sheet or cookie sheet. Take one of the balls of dough and using your fingers and hands stretch the dough into a rectangle. I suggest about 13 or so inches long and 9 or so inches wide. Don’t worry about it being perfect, it’s to eat not to hang on a wall. The important thing to figure out is how thick you like your crust, so experiment with this part. It will be fun. Repeat with other ball of dough.
Prepare your ingredients, sauce, cheese and toppings. You want them ready and in reach once your dough hits the grill.
You will want to grill one at a time. Practice makes perfect. Gently lift the dough and drape it over the hot zone of your grill. Depending on the heat of your grill you will leave them there for 1 to 3 minutes. You are looking for nice grill marks a crisp and hardened bottom. If the top starts to bubble don’t worry about it.
Using two spatulas or tongs or a combo turn the dough over and move it to the cool zone on your grill. Working quickly brush the top half with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, apply the sauce, cheese and basil leaves or the other ingredients you are working with. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Slide 1/2 of the pizza back over the hot zone close the lid. Every 30 seconds to 60 seconds rotate the pizza and close the lid so that the cheese melts on the top and the crust doesn’t overcook. You are looking for a nice crunchy crust, golden brown, some charring, but not burnt.
Enjoy! Please share ideas for toppings and your pizza grilling experience.
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