By Bruce Weinstein & Mark Scarbrough
Grilled pizza has become our summer staple. Friends come over on a warm afternoon and there’s sure to be a pie on the grate.
The grill melts the cheese evenly and quickly, and gets the crust mottled with those dark bits everyone fights over. Because you grill the crust on both sides, first alone and then topped, it gets crunchy, like a baguette from a really hot oven. What’s more, there’s that characteristic smoky taste from the grill.
Of course, some people are still troubled by the whole process. “Won’t it fall through the slats?” they ask.
Have no fear. The whole-wheat dough we’ve developed is easy to work with: light and tender but also surprisingly sturdy.
To shape it into the right size, we never worry about tossing it in the air in some I Love Lucy-induced pizza parlor comedy. (Drama is always overrated when people are hungry.) We simply put the dough on a lightly floured surface, dust the top with a little more flour and dimple it with our fingertips to shape it into a thick, flattened circle. After that, it’s just a quick job with a rolling pin to shape it into a rough, rustic circle.
We’ve discovered one secret through trial and error: we always sprinkle more cornmeal on the pizza peel or baking sheet than we think is necessary before transferring the dough to it. We give the dough a shake to make sure it will come free when it’s time to slide it onto the grill—and sneak a little more cornmeal underneath any spots that stick. We’ve gotten a good laugh from friends when we’ve tipped the pizza peel to slide the dough off onto the grill, only to find that it’s stuck. Better safe than, well, not sorry, but embarrassed.
After a successful slide, it’s just a waiting game. We close the lid and let the crust get brown on one side before we flip it and top the pie to suit everyone’s tastes. There’s plenty of time to pour a beer, sit back and take in the clear evening light.
Talk about easy entertaining. We’re more than able to accommodate everyone’s likes and needs. Some people demand only cheese, some swoon over anchovies and some go for our newer twists on classic pies. It’s all possible because pizzas are endlessly versatile, endlessly customizable. There’s really only one other consideration: because the pie gets topped right on the grill after the crust has been flipped, the ingredients must be prepped in advance. But that’s what friends are for. The minute they arrive, we get one person to grate the cheese, another to chop the onion. Do as we do: hold back the drinks until the chores are done. It works every time.
We take the ingredients out to the grill in little bowls on a cutting board or tray. And preparing different toppings in advance means we can make different pies for different tastes. Or we make a host of personal pies: one to suit each person.
Here are some of our favorite pizza combinations. Fire up the grill and get that dough ready. You’ll have the best pizzas in a matter of minutes.
Contributing editors Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough’s most recent book is The Ultimate Cook Book (William Morrow).