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~ How to: Grill Great Sizzling Summertime Pizza ~

6a0120a8551282970b017d4280256f970cWe're quickly approaching the height of the Summer season here in Happy Valley.  Everyone is spending time outdoors and eating fresher and lighter food.  That being said, every once in a while my family wants pizza.  For about 4-5 Summers now, instead of turning on my ovens inside, I've been grilling personal-sized pizzas outside.  Truthfully, we think they rival even the best pizza shops in this college town (and this town is full of pizza shops).  It took me a couple of tries to come up what I consider to be the best method for grilling perfect pizza every time:

Crispy crust, gooey cheese & toppings representing the taste of Summer!

PICT0551 My family loves my homemade pizza crust, and so have all of the students I have taught to make it in my cooking classes.  So, one afternoon I decided to put it to the test and see how it would fare on the grill... and it worked fantastic!

I make it in the food processor in less than 5 minutes.  Yes, I said less than 5 minutes.  To read my recipe for ~ Preschutti Pizza, Part II:  Our Favorite Crust ~, click into Categories 5 or 12.  That being said, feel free to use your own recipe or favorite store-bought dough.  Note:  This is a method for grilling pizza today rather than an exact recipe!

PICT4766~ Step 1.  Depending on how much dough you have, line one or two 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans with parchment paper and spray the paper with no-stick spray. Once your dough is mixed and has risen, using a kitchen scale as a measure, divide it into 3-ounce portions and roll it into balls.  My dough recipe yields 18 personal-sized pizza crusts.  Using your fingertips, pat, press and push each ball of dough to form a crust about 6" round.



~ Step 2.  Line one more baking pan with a sheet of parchment paper that has been sprayed with no-stick cooking spray.  As you form the crusts, place/layer them on the pan, four to a layer, interleaving the crusts with parchment paper that has been sprayed with no-stick spray on BOTH SIDES, meaning: all of the parchment paper touching the crusts must be sprayed!

PICT4786 At this point, the pan of crusts can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated for several hours or overnight.

~ Step 3.  Because the uncooked crusts tend to "shrink up" a little, just before grilling each one, I like to give it a second brief pat and press, stretching it to between 6"-7" round.

PICT4782 ~ Step 4.  Preheat your grill to high. Place desired number of crusts on the grill and cook until golden brown grill marks appear on the first side. Using a long-handled grilling spatula, flip crusts over and grill again, until golden brown grill marks appear on the second side. This should take just 1-2 minutes per side, but depending upon just how hot your grill is or gets, could take as long as 3 minutes per side.

PICT4795 Note:  Grilled and completely cooled crusts can be prepared 1-2 days in advance of topping, cooking and eating the pizzas.  Cover them with plastic wrap or store them in a large food storage bag.  Grilled and completely cooled crusts can also be frozen.

PICT4799  To cook pizzas on the grill: Preheat grill to high.  Top pizzas and place them on a disposable aluminum broiler pan, the kind with the corrugated bottom. Place on grill, close the lid and cook until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 3-5 minutes.  Placing the crusts on this type of pan diffuses the heat really well, which insures your crust won't burn in the time necessary to melt the cheese.  It also prevents flareups caused by cheese and/or sauce dripping down into the flame.  Now that we've grilled the crusts and know how to cook the pizzas, I'd like to share some of my ideas for toppings with you!

PICT4705 #1.  Sauces:  I like to give my family and guests three sauces to choose from.  My favorites are Parmesan-Alfredo, basil-pesto and tomato-basil, which just happen to be the three colors in the Italian flag!  

Note:  While I make my sauces from scratch, feel free to use your favorite bottled brands.  You can read my recipe for ~ Preschutti Pizza, Part I: Our Favorite Sauce ~ by clicking into Categories 8, 12 or 22.  I'll be posting the others in the near future!

PICT4709 #2.  Fresh vegetables.  Feel free to use any fresh vegetables that you like, just remember to slice them very thin and/or chop them into bite sized pieces. My four favorites are blanched, fresh broccoli florets, shaved Vidalia or sweet onion, small, sliced Campari tomatoes and white button mushroom caps. Occasionally I like to take the time to roast and slice some red and/or green peppers too!

PICT4714 #3.  Marinated vegetables.  My favorite duo is broken/coarsely chopped Kalamata olives and sliced artichoke hearts, but two other great suggestions are anchovies and sun-dried tomatoes!

PICT4720 #4.  Proteins.  It's Summertime folks... save the pepperoni and sausage for the Winter months.  I like the taste of freshly grilled boneless, skinless chicken thighs (which have been cut into thin strips) and small shrimp (which were steamed using some fresh lemon juice and bay leaves)!

PICT4729 #5.  Cheeses.  Real Parmigiano-Reggiano is a must. Three accompanying options which work and taste great on grilled pizza are fresh mozzarella, goat and/or feta.

PICT4735 My tip for quickly and easily slicing soft, fresh mozzarella into thin and even slices is to cut the cheese ball into quarters and use an egg slicer!

PICT4755 #6.  Fresh herbs and dried spices. My favorite herb is fresh basil leaves, picked right out of the garden and torn into pieces. Rosemary, thyme and oregano work quite well too.

PICT4722 As for dried herbs, I keep them simple, relying upon my highly-flavored sauces to spice my pizzas up.  A sprinkling of garlic powder, an herb blend and some red pepper is all I require.  Once the pizzas are off the grill:  drizzle with EVOO, slice and eat!  

PICT4811 How to:  Grill Great Sizzling Summertime Pizza:  The recipe for my pizza dough yields 18 personal-sized pizza crusts.

Special Equipment List:  2-3, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" baking pans; 5-6, 17 1/2" x 12 1/2" sheets parchment paper; no-stick cooking spray; kitchen scale; plastic wrap (optional); cutting board; chef's knife; egg slicer; long-handled grilling spatula; 11 3/4" x 8 1/2" x 1 1/4" disposable aluminum broiler pans w/corrugated bottoms; cutting board; chef's knife or pizza cutter

PICT4807 Cook's Note:  What happens if you have grilled pizza crusts leftover or want to take one or two out of the freezer and don't want to heat up your grill?  Top and bake them in a 375-400 degree oven for 5-8 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.  To insure the crust gets as crispy as it does on the grill, place them on a rack in a baking pan!

PICT4808 Extra Cook's Note:  The topping combinations pictured in the three pizzas today are my favorites:  basil-pesto w/olives, artichokes, shrimp and mozzarella; Parmesan-Alfredo w/broccoli, tomato, chicken, mozzarella and basil, and; tomato-basil w/mushrooms, onions, mozzarella and basil.  Before going onto the grill, they were all sprinkled with Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Italian seasoning blend and red pepper flakes.  Once off the grill, they were drizzled with EVOO!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2011)


Ken! This is not an odd question at all! In fact, it is a great question! There are two schools of thought on what it the best way to slice/chop an onion. Look for an answer to your question on this Friday's Culinary Q&A & Kitchen Therapy Too! ~ Mel.

This might be an odd question, but what is the correct way to slice an onion, I love it on my pizza! Ken

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