In the dog days of the summer, grilling dinner is the natural choice -- especially when serving up food to a group of friends. Cooking on the grill gives opportunity to gather around and chat, and it keeps the heat out of the kitchen. Here's your chance to move beyond burgers and brats; use your grill to throw a pizza party! Grilled pizza is fun and easy to make.
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Make or purchase your favorite pizza dough. (A simple, good recipe can be found in the References link). When deciding how much dough to make, count on 1/2 pizza per person. Leftovers are great too!
Grilled pizza cooks up quickly so begin with all your toppings ready to go. The sky is the limit with pizza toppings -- pizza crust can wonderfully carry any fruit, vegetable or protein. Think outside the pepperoni: smoked salmon, roasted cauliflower, fresh kale, dried apricots, pine nuts...anything goes!
You want a fire that is hot enough to cook the dough but not so hot it will burn the bottom before the interior and top is cooked. Heat grill to medium heat. Ideally, one part of the grill is a bit cooler so you can quickly reduce heat if one part of pizza is cooking more quickly than another. While grill heats, shape your dough. For grilled pizza, we want a thin crust but not so thin it falls apart. Shape crust by using finger tips to press dough out into a large pancake. Then, lift crust onto your fists and let gravity pull the dough into shape.
The dough needs to be thoroughly covered with flour to prevent sticking to the grill. A pizza peel makes it easy to slide dough onto grill. If you don't have a peel, use your hands by folding dough onto itself and gently unfolding on the grill.
Cook one side of the dough for a few minutes and then remove from grill and flip onto plate or peel so barely-cooked bottom is right side up. It should easily come right off grill.
Add pizza toppings to the lightly cooked dough surface. If using a peel, leave crust right on peel. Begin with the thinnest ingredients and don't overload pizza. The grill's interior temperature is much hotter on the bottom and overloaded pizzas will cook inconsistently.
An idea: the host makes the crust and invites each dinner guest to bring one or two toppings. A Pizza Potluck! Each guest is chef to their own mini pizza that is shared with the group.
Place pizza back on grill and cover. Stay close by; when the grill is at temperature, pizza will cook in about 5-8 minutes. Check crust several times to make sure the bottom isn't burning. If it is getting too brown, move to cooler part of grill or reduce heat. Rotating pizza helps ensure even cooking.
Peek at bottom and top. The pizza is done when it looks done to your liking! It should slide off grill with ease, using a peel or a spatula and hot pad.
Grilled pizza parties make it easy to feed a crowd. Most grills can hold several small pizzas at once. And with the quick cook time, fresh food just keeps rolling off the grill and into hungry mouths.