Understanding Grilled Pizza
I was in New York last week, and I must say: I ate some of the best grilled pizzas ever!
I have always preferred the grilled pizza over the regular oven baked one. I feel that the smoky charred flavour, goes perfectly with pizza, especially if going for a spicy, tomato-based one! With that said, the ones I tried throughout last week were far better than any that I have ever had before! This trip has left me so inspired on many fronts, New York never fails to delight and inspire, especially when you go for its Gastronomic treats, AMAZING..!
I will be sharing more of what I have tried and my take on it all, in doses though, as this time I was left so smitten (even more than ever before, I am a New York lover) and want to sink it in! lol Since I am dedicating April to all things grilled & BBQ’d, I will share with you my New York inspired grilled Pizzas and inspired extras. Hope you will take the time to make these as am telling you, you really will not have pizza any other way, once you try this.
Here are some tips, for grilled pizzas, that will help you get the best results every time
- Be well prepared: Have the dough, prepared and ready. Fill a small bowl with olive oil, and have the brush handy. Use this oil to grease the grill grates and the dough. Have your sauces, toppings, seasoning and herbs handy, so you don’t have to go looking for them, and risk burning your pizza dough.
- The dough has to be well prepared, well floured and even in thickness in order to cook evenly. The grates have to be well greased in order for the dough to slide on the grill. The last thing you want is for the dough to get stuck on the grill. (Pizza dough is fully covered in Understanding Pizza, see links below.)
- When grilling pizza, you want your charcoal grill to be hotter on one side than the other. Cook the topped pizzas on the cooler side in order for the topping to cook through before the crust burns. But when cooking the dough before topping you want to do so on the hot side, as the dough needs high heat. When you cover the grill you allow the cheese to melt properly.
Cooked VS Raw Toppings
When using different types of uncooked meats to top your pizza, it is always wise to half grill them before chopping them and adding them to the pizza. This is done to ensure they get thoroughly cooked by the time your pizza gets done (meat and dough cook at different paces). This is especially important when using chicken. It’s a safety issue here more than anything.
The Method of Grilling Pizza
- Once your grill is hot, dip a tightly folded up paper towel in oil, and use the tongs to hold it and wipe the grates with it.
- Roll and shape your pizza dough, and transfer to the prepared, preheated grill. To transfer your dough, you can use a cookie sheet, or a large scraper, or a pizza scraper if you have one. It is a good idea to spread some cornmeal over the top of the transfer sheet, as so the dough doesn’t get stuck.
- Once on the grill, cover and cook for 2 minutes. After 2 minutes, open the grill and check if the bottom is slightly browned. If not, place back the cover and cook for 2 more minutes. Once browned, flip and cook on the other side until browned (2 more minutes) if you are going for no cook toppings.
- If you are going for toppings that require cooking, once you flip your dough after browning one side, spread the sauce over the browned side, top with your desired toppings and cheese. Place the dough over the cooler side of the grill cover grill, and cook until the cheese is melted and the dough is slightly browned.
No Cook Pizza Toppings
These pizzas are just as delicious. The concept is more like making bread out of pizza dough, and topping with a variety of toppings that do not require cooking, or that have been cooked and prepared ahead of time. This option is very good for BBQ events. You can have a Pizza station, with a variety of toppings, leaves, roasted vegetables, cured meats and cold cuts, crumbled cheeses, a variety of tomatoes, sauces or vinaigrettes…etc. You will grill the pizza dough and leave the choice of topping up to your guests.
NYC Little Italy
I remember having a real hard time, choosing what I want to try at Da Nico’s Restaurant in New York’s Little Italy. The pasta was very good, but the star of the show was definitely this particular No Cook Pizza. Little Italy as you can imagine, is a wonderful place to go for everyone who is keen on finding amazing food products. There are the Delis where you can find aged Balsamic vinegar (if you haven’t tried it before, do that. It is really good and worth the bucks by the way. It is a totally different experience from regular Balsamic Vinegar!). You can also find all sorts of cheeses, cured meats, salts, olives…etc so you can go there tasting away, and getting inspired with a variety of flavours. Then there is also all the Italian restaurants, where you can have pizzas, pastas, fish and seafood…etc.
And now for the food geeks/nerds out there, who like myself, are into learning food history and evolution, here is a video that explains pretty well the evolution of NY Pizzas. With details about the move of pizza from Naples to USA and its evolution into the Brooklyn Pizza (eventually NY Pizza).