Thanks to Angie, I’ve been making pizza for years. It was her dough recipe and guidance that got me started. It felt good to make the kids a healthy homemade treat, even if I had to use pepperoni every time. My dough recipe has evolved from the original one Angie gave me and I think it’s because subconsciously I like my finished dough round and fluffy as opposed to thin and crispy. You might say we look like our dough, similar to how people resemble their dogs (or visa versa).
Anyway, Angie’s a traditionalist and when I mentioned that I recently began grilling my pizza, she looked surprised and said “why”? Well, in one word, the dough. Thanks to perforated grilling pans, the heat of the grill cooks the bottom of the crust to the perfect crispness while the top portion remains tender and soft. Granted, the corners do resemble an inflated airbag, but who says food always has to look perfect.
As for the sauce, well, you can imagine that Angie cooks hers over a low flame and adds the requisite garlic and herbs. I, on the other hand, usually dig around in the fridge until I find an opened jar of marinara or leftover tomato paste from an earlier recipe. If there’s nothing growing on the rim, then it will work.
I probably make pizza more often now that I’m grilling it. No more rolling pin and flour all over the counter. No more cooking them one at a time with my only pizza pan.
And, tonight’s sauce? Last week’s opened jar of Vodka sauce.
I’m not advising anyone to go to such extremes. Go all out and make a sauce from scratch. Simmer away. But, if you don’t have the time and tend not to use up all of your jarred sauce, try polishing it off on pizza. You could even pair your pizza toppings with appropriate sauces. For instance, spicy arrabbiata sauce would work great with salame and mushrooms; olive- and caper-filled puttanesca sauce would pair nicely with anchovies, goat cheese, and roasted red peppers; and even alfredo sauce would make a delicious white pizza with shaved truffles and pre-grilled radicchio.
I recently convinced Angie to buy a grill pan for her pizza. Who wants to bet she’ll be returning it.
Pizza Dough Recipe
This recipe is adapted from an old clipping I had for calzone dough. Based on the font and feel of the paper, I think it’s from Better Homes and Garden and was reproduced from a Donna Hay cookbook. This recipe makes enough dough for two large pizzas. Use your imagination with toppings.
1 Tbsp. active dry yeast (one package)
1 tsp. sugar
2 cups warm water (105° or so)
5 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 tsp. salt
1. In a standing mixer bowl, add yeast and sugar. Pour water over, stir, and allow to sit for 3 minutes, or until yeast is frothy and sugar is dissolved. Add flour, olive oil, and salt and connect bowl to mixer. Attach hook attachment and mix on low for about 4 to 5 minutes. If needed, add more flour, 1 tsp. at a time. Dough should be a little tacky. Remove hook, cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel, and allow to double in size, about 2 hours, in a warm place.
2. Punch down dough and remove from bowl and turn onto a floured surface. Lightly knead for a couple of minutes. Shape into a large round and cut in half. Shape each round and allow to rest for 20 minutes.
3. Hand stretch each dough to fit shape of pan. Make sure dough is no more than 1/2″ thick, though the ends can be thicker.
4. Proceed with sauce, cheese, toppings. Grill on low setting (375°), covered, for about 15 minutes. Check dough by pulling back a bit of the toppings in the center of the pizza.