Pizza On The Grill

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Pizza. It's such a subjective food. In this country I've seen the discussion of thin crust versus deep crust turn violent. I've seen people terminate friendships over toppings. And I've seen intelligence whittle down to one-syllable expletives over the origin of pizza. It's a battle that I quietly and politely escape, watching from the sidelines, offering nothing more than silence.

I'll keep my mouth shut, thank you very much.

Of course if you ask me I'll happily tell you, in detail, that my favorite type of pizza involves the thinnest of crusts, no more than 3 toppings usually, baked quickly in the highest of temperatures. To me, pizza doesn't have to be a 40-minute affair that's baked in a pan big enough for paella, deep-dished to high heaven with 13 pounds of sausage and peppers and enough gooey cheese to clog the arteries of a small army. Don't get me wrong, I lived in Chicago for many years and can eat my weight in deep dish. But at home it's a different story.

It wasn't until my first few visits to Europe that I realized how spontaneous, how simple and pleasurable a small, quick pizza can be. However, recreating the perfect crust and combination of unique ingredients proved to be a bit challenging. I was willing to give up the experience of eating with friends while staring into the Mediterranean ocean and drinking wine (somehow my backyard doesn't quite compare), but damnit, I wasn't going to give up the flavor. I was on a mission.

Three ovens, 4 pizza stones and two BBQ grills later I do believe I've come close.

It's all about the grill.

As it turns out, pizzas baked in high temperatures and dry heat taste the best. There's a reason why pizzas are baked in big brick and stone ovens, and until I win the lottery and have one installed in my home, I'm sticking with my BBQ grill. BBQ Grills reach a much higher temperature than home ovens, and it's this temperature that makes all the difference in a thin, crunchy delicious crust or a sad, chewy one. And in case your wondering, no, it doesn't make your pizza taste like a big giant BBQ'd slab of ribs, but come to think of it, that wouldn't be all that bad!

Pizza protocol for outdoor grilling is a slight bit different. You can't simply load up toppings on your crust and call it a day. No, it doesn't work that way. A grilled pizza crust must be brushed with olive oil, grilled quickly until nice large bubbles appear, carefully flipped and repeated. You'll have to really keep an eye on it too, as it only takes a few minutes over medium heat. Once you've done this you can place your toppings on the crust, but I'm not that daring. I remove the crust from the grill and add my ingredients off of the flame. Ouch.

If you're using sauce, it pays to heat it up a little bit before it hits the crust. Add your ingredients, and remember that less is definitely more. Once dressed, place back on grill, close the cover and cook for 3-5 minutes. Check underneath the pizza after a few minutes for desired doneness. The crust should be a nice, brown color. And if you're using herbs, they can be placed on top right before serving so that they don't become back and burned. (Although I've noticed that due to the high heat of the grill and the very short cooking time it's ok to add herbs before grilling. They'll be just fine.)

I'm not an exact type of cook and that is why these are all basic guidelines without a recipe. Besides, everyone has their favorite dough recipe and preference for pizza toppings. After all, it's fun to experiment, isn't it? If you make a mistake (as I have thousands of times), well, just eat it. You'll be too busy to argue about the history of the pizza with your mouth full.

19 Responses to “Pizza On The Grill”

  1. Anonymous melissa 

    matt, although the pizza in your photograph looks just delicious, as i mentioned in comments to yesterday's post, i would be relegated to picking off the onions and walnuts. HA! but the bleu cheese and sage? i am so there. however, my inability to palate certain foods doesn't negate the sincere wish i have to be able to eat something as wonderful as the pizza in the photograph. i'm sure that a delicious time was had by all who enjoyed this...

    and i would have never thought of grilling a pizza in a million years, although after your description it seems to make perfect sense, especially to those of us who can't afford an in-house brick oven. you're a culinary genius.

    ps - i would at least try the pizza first without picking anything off of it, i promise!!!

  2. Anonymous Glutton Cat 

    Finally. I found a way to make pizza without oven. (Due to some technicality, I don't have a kitchen these days :) )

    I will try this method ASAP. Thanks a lot.

  3. Anonymous Kalyn 

    I love this idea, and I have a wonderful grill which even has a temperature gauge. Supposedly you can bake bread in this grill, but I haven't tried it. Pizza is something I will try. Thanks for the idea!

  4. Anonymous eatdrinknbmerry 

    matt, i've always been curious about grilled pizzas. your food looks great. photos too, of course.

  5. Anonymous B'gina 

    It must be serendipity. I've been craving pizza all day, and I have a barbecue, too.

    But what is your dough recipe that you can make a "quick" pizza? Is it not a yeast dough that requires rising time?

  6. Anonymous Christiane 

    That's one hell of a gorgeous pizza.

  7. Anonymous Helen 

    So Matt, what time should I come on over?

  8. Anonymous Chubby Hubby 

    Great minds must think alike! I just put up a post about pizza as well. The grilled pizza is a great idea. Al Forno, in Providence, is famous for theirs (and supposedly pioneered the method in the USA). Yours looks just as good.

    4 pizza stones? Yikes. We just bought our first.

  9. Anonymous fanny 

    This sounds and looks absolutely delicious.

  10. Anonymous Melissa 

    Between you and Chubby Hubby, is it any wonder all I can think about it pizza? I love the idea of grilled pizza, and am kicking myself that I didn't ever give it a try back when I had the opportunity (i.e. a grill, and weather to do it in!). Peter Reinhart even includes a recipe in his book American Pie, and if that isn't legitimizing it, I don't know what is! Not that legitimacy matters when something looks that good... Great post!

  11. Anonymous sam 

    I have been meaning to try pizza on the grill for a while. But I haven't got round to it yret. You must be having MUCH better weather in LA than we are up here!

  12. Anonymous Toast 

    i'm drooling!! I love making pizza and so far my favourite base is a betwixt and between thickenss, made with half white and half wholemeal flour, it changes the texture and flavour, but isn't as heavy as all wholemeal.
    Now I have something new to try. Yay!

  13. Anonymous Liam 

    Hi there,
    i like how you designed your whole comment section. Could you help me with the code?

  14. Anonymous keiko 

    Hi Matt - I love making pizza with onion, blue cheese, walnut combination too, but I must say yours looks far better than mine :) I'm looking forward to trying it on the grill this summer (well, if there is summer!).

  15. Anonymous Oliver 

    Hey Matt, I love the thought of mobile pizza. So not only can it add to the overall quality of the pizza, depending on your grill you can basically have it anywhere. With the warmer days (hopefully soon) coming up a great alternative to just sausages and meat... :)
    PS: Our pizza stone has served us well making crisp and bubbly edges, but we really have to give it about 45 minutes to fully heat up.

  16. Anonymous bea at La Tartine Gourmande 

    Wow Matt, this is true inspiration. Pizza on the grill! SO much like this idea! It absolutely looks wonderful! I cannot wait to try. But like Sam, I think your weather looks MUCH better than ours and I am totally jealous!!

  17. Anonymous Monkey Gland 

    My mum does that at bbq's and everyone reacts like she just cured smallpox or something. Nice looking pizza you got there

  18. Anonymous Marianne 

    This looks amazing! I recently had a less than great pizza making experience--mostly because the crust wasn't good. Could you point me in the direction of a good crust recipe for grilling? I'd be forever indebted. Thanks!

  19. Blogger 日月神教-向左使 

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About me

  • I'm Matt Armendariz
  • From Los Angeles, California
  • A man with a passion for good food and a wonderful life with a dash of irreverence. Read at your own risk. Advertising director by day, wino by night. All photos on this site by Matt Armendariz.
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