Memorial weekend has come and gone, schools are about to dismiss for the summer and for cooks that means one thing.
It's high time to fire up the grill.
"I do a lot of grilling - in spurts," admits Scott Kelly of Bowling Green.
His list of favorites ranges far beyond dogs, brauts and burgers.
"We've grilled corn on the cob, grilled asparagus, wedge potatoes, grilled fruit-based dessert with a crumb topping, shrimp recipes."
Today he's sharing with Cook's Corner readers one of his own family's favorite recipes: grilled pizza.
"It's not a hard thing to make" although it is best reserved for the weekend.
"My only reservation is people love it and will want to make it, but when I say it's a homemade dough" not all fans are willing to follow through and try it themselves.
For those who are, the flavor payoff is huge.
Kelly and his wife of 17 years, Deb, are parents of Drew, 11; Sarah, 7; and Sophia, 3.
Like most kids their age, the threesome prefer cheese pizza.
Dad is happy to accommodate them, but also saves plenty of creativity for his and Deb's pizzas, which might be topped with anything from grilled mushrooms to herbs to yesterday's leftover steak.
"The pizza I made for the photographer, I topped it with a quarter of a stripped steak I had bought at Belleville's" and served at an earlier meal.
"I put on goat cheese; that's my wife's thing. I really don't want that to cook. Just activate the oil, but not really cook it."
Fresh ingredients are added last, when the grilling is all but done.
"You want the fresh flavors to really jump out at you."
This is not a deep-dish style pizza.
"Essentially, you're creating really a flatbread. All the flavor is in the dough."
The crust also has a fantastic texture.
"The way I do it, it's not crisp at all. It's still pliable, still soft."
He put the recipe together with literary inspiration.
"Four years ago, when we got our grill, I want to the (Wood County District Public) library. They've got tons of stuff!" he said of the cookbook section. "I bet it's underutilized because I doubt enough people realize it's there."
Among Kelly's own favorites are a book based on "Barbecue University," a show he saw on public television, and "America's Test Kitchens," an offshoot of Cook's Illustrated magazine which also yielded a show on PBS.
He took the first couple steps of his recipe from an America's Test Kitchens grilled pizza recipe, then experimented in bits and pieces.
"And I've tailored it to my family, 'cause I've learned that you can spend all day working on a meal and if nobody will eat it, you might as well make fishsticks!"
He admits that he and his wife have "probably been a little too guilty of catering to our kids, because if they go to potlucks at church or school" they sometimes have a bit of difficulty appreciating the different dishes offered.
Their church, Peace Luther-an, offers potlucks every week during the fall catechism class, and son Drew "had a bit of trouble with that."
Other parents of similarly-aged kids would probably offer Kelly reassurance that his three are quite typical in that regard.
A Westerville native who came to Bowling Green as an undergraduate in 1986, Kelly later earned a master's degree in biology from the university. He's currently a full-time dad, which allows time for culinary experimentation.
His approach is academic, yet relaxed.
As far as the grilled pizza, "a lot of my pieces are kind of oval. They look like Connecticut or Texas. But it doesn't have to be round; it tastes just as good. As long as you can flip it over, it's good."
He offers two grilling hints for those planning to make this recipe:
¥ "The oil parchment paper - that's critical. Trust me; I've paid! Wax paper sticks terribly, and I don't know that foil would be any better.
¥ "Having everything (the toppings) pre-cooked is the other proviso."
The grilling process itself is quick, but "it's a recipe that has a few hoops to jump through.But if anybody's got a Sunday to spend a few hours on and they like it, that's something new to add to their arsenal."
2 minced cloves garlic
1 tsp. fresh minced thyme
2 Tbs. olive oil
1 ¼ cup warm water
1 packet of yeast
1 Tbs. of sugar
2 tsp. salt
3 ½ to 4 cups of all-purpose flour
In a small skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and thyme and cook for just a minute or two until the garlic starts to change color. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.
Add the water, yeast and sugar to a stand mixer (or food processor) and allow to sit for a few minutes. Then add the olive oil and garlic mixture as well as flour and salt. For the mixer using a dough hook, mix on low speed until the dough comes together adding more four or a water as necessary. Continue to knead the dough for at least 5 minutes until it looks smooth and elastic. Let rise until double in size. Punch down and divide into either 4 large, 6 medium or 8 small pieces and form a ball with each. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise another 10 to 15 minutes.
Each piece of dough can then be rolled out either by hand or rolling pin and placed between 2 pieces of oiled parchment paper.
Meanwhile set up an outdoor grill for indirect grilling. Indirect grilling established a two or 3 zone fire across the grill. The primary burner (gas grill) should be on high and the opposite side of the grill should be left off. My grill has 3 burners so my primary burner is on high, my middle burner is preheated to high and then turned to medium and my last burner I preheat to medium but turn off when I start the pizzas. Allow the grill to heat up for 15 minutes.
Conversely, a charcoal grill should have most of the charcoal on one side and the opposite should have very few coals.
Pizza sauce or any jarred pasta sauce
Mozzarella or a mixed shredded pizza cheeses
Any other toppings have to be cooked as the heat of the grill will only cook the crust and partially melt the cheese. We often will use pepperoni, grilled onions or mushrooms. The pizza in the picture has grilled onions, grilled zucchini and some thin slices of steak from a previous meal. This is a great place to use leftovers as this creates an almost unlimited number of toppings.
When the grill is hot, scrape the grates clean and using tongs and an oiled paper towel, oil the grill grates. With the grill ready and the crusts rolled out, place the first crust on the hot side of the grill. This is where the oiled parchment paper helps as this allows for an easy way to pick up each crust and is the only product that does not stick to the pizza dough. Wax paper does not work. Allow to cook for 2 to 3 minutes depending on how hot the grill is until the first side appears cooked. Using tongs or a large spatula move the crust over to the cool side of the grill and flip over. Place a small amount of pizza sauce, the desired amount of cheese and any other toppings on the cooked side of the crust. Carefully move the partially cooked pizza back to the hot side of the grill. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes or until the bottom side of the crust looks done. Either move the pizza to the cooling rack of the grill or place in a warm oven. Either method will allow the cheese to melt.
Depending on how many pizzas are cooked, a new pizza crust can be started on the hot side of the grill while a partially cooked pizza is being topped. We often just do cheese pizza for the kids while my wife and I will add more elaborate toppings such as goat cheese or fresh cut chives or basil. I add these to the finished pizza as I don't want any fresh toppings to really cook.
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