25 May 2009

Smokin' pizza.

I'm one of those foreigners your mother warned you about.  Stealing your jobs, and stealing your women.  (No seriously, I work in America, and married an American - I guess I'm a bad one).  So I confess, most American holidays don't mean much to me.  So I tend to celebrate Memorial Day as a bbq weekend. Not that different from most Americans, but I have an excuse.

This year, the Memorial Day weekend is a low key event here.  Our first night is a grilled pizza night, which takes advantage of the direct and indirect heat of a large grill.  Smoked pizza is the shiz-nit.  Really.  Everyone loves it (cause who doesn't love pizza??), but at the same time, if done properly, it adds the exotic flavour of smoke and all the fun cheeses you can get your hands on, which makes me very happy. 

This makes 4 largish, individual pizzas:

2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 C water, room temperature
2 C bread flour, plus more for work surface
1 tbsp whole wheat flour
2 tsp sugar
1¼ tsp salt
1 tsp instant yeast

Mix the yeast, sugar and water, and let the yeast bloom a moment.  I just like to watch the yeast hydrate and get all fired up (I'm a microbiologist - sue me).  Add oil, flours and salt (in that order) and mix (or knead) until the dough starts to feel a tiny bit dry.  As with all bread doughs, you may need to add a little more flour to get the right consistency.

Put into an oiled bowl, cover and let rise for 1-2 hours.  

While it's rising, prep the toppings.  First you'll want an oil.  This pizza isn't tomato-sauce based.  It's not easy to do a tomato-based pizza on the grill.  Too heavy, and too wet.  So we do an oil based pizza (who doesn't love oil?).  Heat:
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp red pepper flakes
⅓ C extra-virgin olive oil
until they start to bubble.  Pull them off the stove and pour into a bowl to cool.  You're gonna use this yummy stuff later (and any leftovers goes great on sandwiches).

Also, prep the toppings.  We like tomato on our pizza, so we get the moisture out of some tomatoes by chopping them up, pulling out the seedy, messy gunk, and salting the remaining flesh liberally.  Leave it in a colander over the sink, and shake it every once in a while to get the water out.  You'll be left with a nice, drier, salty tomato chunks.  

For this batch of pizza, we also prepped some pepperoni, shredded fresh basil leaves, fresh pineapple, shallots, leftover smoked brisket chunks and orange peppers.

For cheese?  You can use the standard pizza cheeses, of course, but I prefer a mixture of mozzarella (of course), parmesan and fontina.  Fontina gives that nice odour of dirty feet - but in a good way.  Nice and sweet and fragrant.  It mixes with the flavour of the smoke beautifully.  But of course, it's pizza.  So how can you go wrong?

After rising, cut the dough into four parts, roll into small balls (with a bit of flour, to keep your fingers and the surfaces dry), and cover.  Let rise 15ish minutes.  Roll out with a rolling pin.  This dough is NOT like a regular pizza dough.  You want it to be thinner, so you really need a rolling pin to get the thinness required.  Roll out gently once, let rest 15 minutes, then roll again to get a nice pizza size.  While the dough is resting, get the grill started, get the charcoal to be nice and white hot.  Ultimately you'll want a nice hot fire on only half of your grill surface.

Here's where the trickiness starts - when the fire gets to the right level - transfer the rolled-out dough to the grill.  If you haven't properly floured the surface of the dough, this part will be a TOTAL disaster.  Sticky dough, flames, death.  You listening to me?  So make sure the dough is properly floured.  And make sure the fire isn't too hot.  You want it hot, but no open flame, or you'll singe the dough rather than cook it.

So set the dough on the fire, and let it cook.  Not too long.  DO NOT WALK AWAY FROM THE FIRE.  This part is done really, really fast.  I have entirely too many scorched pizza doughs waiting for me in pizza hell, and we don't need to send any more there.  So really, keep an eye on that dough.  It takes only 45-90 seconds to properly cook the dough.  It'll bubble up on the top - go ahead and pop those bubbles, and pull that pizza dough off when the underside is nicely browned.  It'll look pretty yummy at this point.

Flip it over.  You're going to dress the browned side.  Brush on garlic pepper oil.  Then dress the pizza with the ingredients listed above (when we serve these at a party, we'll let our guests dress their own pizzas).  Just make sure it's not too heavy, otherwise it becomes unwieldy on the grill.  Slide the pizza back onto the grill, away from the fire.  Close up the grill, and smoke it long enough to melt the cheese, generally 5-10 minutes.  When the cheese is melted to your satisfaction, move back over the fire and brown the underside of the dough.  You'll see the cheeze bubble, and it'll be done in less than a minute.  Remove from heat, chop, serve, and bask in smoked pizza glory.

Truly, this is a crowd-pleaser.  You'll never make people happier than serving them something they already love, but in a way they never expected.

Happy long weekend.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Save the leftover oil/garlic mixture for putting on pasta and sandwiches...very yummy.

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