Whenever I see a mound of pizza dough I’m reminded of a random afternoon when I was about four. We were in the Poconos. My mom was kneading dough for homemade pizzas and I was going through a phase where I was obsessed with eating raw food. Raw pasta, raw sausage, raw dough…I’d sneak bites of whatever I could when no one was looking and scuttle away before getting caught, buzzing with the thrill of victory. It was so bad, but so good.
My mom was kneading dough on this particular summer afternoon, and every time she’d turn to grab more flour, wash her hands, or get a pizza pan, I’d lob off some dough and cram it into my mouth before she turned back. Then I’d tuck the pulled area under the mound so she wouldn’t notice. I thought I was so, so smart. Meanwhile, she knew about my raw food habit and promised I’d get a ball of dough to play with (Play-Doh style, since actual Play-Doh wasn’t allowed in our house) if I didn’t steal any. So I wore my little angel halo when she could see, then pounced when she turned away.
I guess she really didn’t pick up on my trick since I got that dough ball when she was done. But I felt so guilty (and probably a little ill) that I wouldn’t take it. In fact, I was so plagued by guilt that the exchange marked the end of my raw-food-stealing era. Even though, the urge still lingers.
All this is to say that Joe made some killer pizzas this weekend, and while he kneaded and sweated over a 700 degree grill, it took all my energy to keep from stealing wads of dough. It’s like those last 26 years of raw-stealing sobriety meant nothing. It was hard work.
The best part of these pizzas is that we figured out a new use for our pizza stone: placing it over a grill rather than in the oven. Joe had been experimenting with grilled pizzas over the years by putting the pie shell straight on the grates but something was always amiss. They’d char too much, dry out, turn into a brittle cracker-like consistency. The pizza stone solution was amazing. It’s actually the closest thing to an actual brick-oven pizza we’d ever had (aside from the real thing).
Just crank your gas grill as high as it will go, or get your charcoal as hot as possible, and put a pizza stone right on the grill. Roll out your dough on a floured, portable cutting board and top however you’d like. Transfer to the stone, cover, and cook for 5 to 10 minutes (depending on your heat levels). Remove from heat when the bottom of the crust is golden.
Here’s a trick: it will be difficult to transfer thin pizzas from your cutting board to the stone after you’ve topped them. Even with all the flour in the world. Instead, get all your toppings ready and bring them to your grill. Transfer the bare pie shell to the stone and then top it quickly, right over the grill. You’ll save yourself a lot of grief (and cursing).
Some of our favorite pizzas topping combos from the night:
Ricotta, caramelized onions, sausage, Parmesan cheese, raw arugula (thrown on top after the pizza’s cooked).
Tomato sauce, roasted potatoes, spinach, fresh mozzarella, Parmesan cheese
Tomato sauce, ricotta, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, spinach
For the crust, we kept it easy and used Whole Foods pizza dough. But if you want to make your own, this is my standby whole wheat pizza dough recipe:
2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast
¼ teaspoon brown sugar
1 ½ cups warm water (110 degrees F)
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups whole wheat flour
In a large bowl, dissolve the yeast and brown sugar in the warm water. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Mix in the salt and the oil. Add two cups of flour and mix in an electric mixer with the dough hook attachment. If you’re kneading by hand, turn the dough onto a well-floured surface. Keep adding flour until the dough is smooth and no longer sticky.
Form the dough into a ball and place in a well oiled bowl. Cover with a cloth and let it rise until double; about 1 hour.
You can make 3 to 4 thin, 12-inch pizzas with this. Just cut into thirds or quarters and roll out onto your floured cutting board. Then go nuts.