Sunday, April 27, 2008

Grilled pizzas

Yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far in Sunnyvale. We had friends over for dinner and had planned to bake pizzas. A few days earlier, when we had planned the event, it was still winter (there is virtually no springtime here). So using the oven only sounded appropriate. But we couldn't possible heat up the house any more yesterday night, as we were already suffocating.

Fortunately Craig Priebe was here to help. He just wrote a great little book called "Grilled Pizzas and Piadinas" where all the pizzas are grilled on a barbecue. He explains how to make the dough (but also tells you it's ok to buy it) and how to pre-grill it; how to make sauces and toppings in advance, then how to build your pizza and grill it. We gave a try to two of his recipes, guided by the mouth-watering pictures, and it was a success! I guess we could perfect our grilling techniques but all the explanations are there in the book. You just need to make a little bit of reading at first (the first section of the book is a crash course on grilling the perfect pizza) then you're ready to go.
The piadinas (italian flat-bread sandwiches), salads and desserts also look fantastic. I'm trying the PAT piadina next (Pancetta, Arugula and Tomato, with a basil pecan pesto. Yum!).

Moroccan Grilled Pizza
Pizza dough: this is where all the art resides, but there is a nice little box on the side of the 2-page recipe that goes "save time with pre-made doughs or crusts [...] Trader Joe's sells terrific fresh pizza dough that grills up perfectly"... And indeed it does! As we were pressed by time, this is what we did. However the recipe is detailed but doesn't look overly complicated.
Toppings: grated Parmesan, shredded mozzarella, grilled chicken breast (coat breast with salt, pepper and olive oil and grill on the hottest part of the barbecue for about 5 minutes on each side) torn or cut into bit-size chunks, 1/2 thinly sliced red onion, about 12 roasted garlic cloves (we chopped the top of a whole garlic head, drizzled with olive oil and placed on a low-heat barbecue for 5-10 minutes), pitted Kalamata olives, 1/2 thinly sliced red pepper.
Curry Glaze (we forgot all about it but the pizza tasted great nonetheless... This would have given it a nice kick, though): combine 1/4 cup honey, 2 tbsp curry powder, 1 pinch red pepper flakes and 1 pinch salt. Drizzle over the finished pizza before grilling it.
How it works: first grill the pizza dough, rolled into an irregular 12x12" (30x30 cm) round without edges for about 3-4 minutes on one side only on a grill that indicates 400F (we used our gas barbecue but the book explains several indoors and outdoors grilling methods) . Flip the pizza crust over and brush with olive oil, then add the toppings (randomly sprinkled rather than layered, to create different tastes in each bite), starting with the cheeses; finish with the glaze. Grill for 5 to 8 minutes on your preheated (medium-high) barbecue. You can then broil for 2 minutes in the oven to caramelize the glaze (we forgot that step).

The Margheritan
This one is a simple tomato, basil and cheese pizza. We bought a small can of fire-roasted crushed tomatoes that we spread over a grilled pizza crust (first brushed with olive oil and sprinkled with Parmesan and shredded mozzarella). We added a sliced fresh mozzarella ball and fresh basil leaves and grilled for 5-8 minutes.
The recipe uses a "chunky tomato basil sauce" made of fresh, coarsely chopped tomatoes, fresh basil, pressed garlic, tomato paste, salt, pepper and sugar mixed together and used uncooked.