It’s hot here. Of course, it isn’t the heat but the humidity, and usually we have no humidity. But for a couple of days over the weekend, the wind changed to the east–marin–and left us gasping for air.
The question of “what’s for dinner?” became reduced to “what wouldn’t be too hot to make?”
One of our favorite fallbacks is pizza. But it’s out of the question to crank an oven to the maximum heat when it’s so stifling. So we did it on the grill.
We have been up to these antics since the turn of the century. But we got lulled into complacency with delicious pizzas just down the street in summer. Unfortunately, those aren’t available this year, so we were motivated to try the grill again.
Pizza(s) on the grill (serves 4):
1 cup warm water
1 package yeast
a pinch of sugar
2 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
couple of tablespoons of herbes de provence, or at least oregano
tomato paste (a can about 3 inches tall–142 ml or about 5 fl. oz.)
toppings for your pizza
Dissolve a pinch of sugar into a cup of warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top, then swirl so it also dissolves. Let it sit until a nice layer of foam forms.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, stir the flour with the salt and herbs. Then drizzle in the olive oil and stir it into relatively fine bits. Add the foamy warm water/yeast. Knead with your hands for a while (oil your hands with olive oil before to keep the dough from sticking). If it’s too soft, add a little more flour. I start low and add rather than end up with a hard brick of dough.
Hold the dough in one hand and drizzle more olive oil into the bowl with the other. Again with one hand, smear the oil around the bowl and drop the dough back in. Cover with a clean dish towel and leave in a warm spot, preferably in the sun, for about an hour. The longer the better.
Now make some pizza sauce: tomato paste (dilute with about 1/2 can of water), garlic, more herbs. Assemble little bowls of what you want to top your pizza. We did diced red peppers, sliced Serrano ham, sautéed onions and anchovies. Maybe we go overboard, I don’t know.
Also slices of mozzarella cheese, and, because we’re in France, grated emmental. The sous-chef likes thick slices of cheese, but if you slice thinner, it will melt better.
Prepare the grill. Not a big fire, but you want it to last for a few pizzas, unless your grill is big enough to cook more at the same time.
When the dough has about doubled, divide it into two, three or four parts, depending on whether you want to do individual ones or share. We share because then everybody eats at the same time.
Roll out each ball on a floured surface. We have a wooden pizza paddle, which makes the transfer to the grill a lot easier. This is the moment of truth, where you might botch it. If the dough lands in a blog, it’s impossible to pick up from the hot grill. Take your time and slide the dough in the direction of the grill rods rather than perpendicular to them.
Let the crust brown a little–not too much because you’re also going to cook the other side. Another moment of truth–it sometimes browns fast, so watch closely.
Then remove the crust, turn it over, and spread your sauce on the browned side. Garnish and return to the grill. If you have a cover, all the better because your cheese on top will melt. We have an enclosed grill with no door, so it mostly melted.
Watch the bottom more than the top, because that’s what risks burning. Pull it off and serve. While one is cooking, prepare the next. We planned for three smaller pizzas but in the end did two larger ones.