I think of myself as a bit of a grilled pizza connoisseur. A year or so ago I managed to perfect a method for making Neapolitan-style pizzas on the grill and it raised the bar on what a margherita pizza should be like. Most of the grilled pizzas out there tend to be bread dough that is flattened and grilled and that makes something that is pretty tasty but most of it comes down to the fact that pizza is pretty tough to make taste bad. Because of this, I often avoid a lot of grilled pizza recipes unless they come from a good source.
When this recipe by Mario Batali popped up Food and Wine my interest was piqued. I’ve watched Mario make many pies on TV and he definitely has a hold on what makes a great pizza. The key to making a really great pizza dough is to give it plenty of time to slowly rise and develop flavour in the fridge. The proportions in this dough balance out well with a hint of sweetness from the honey and a good shot of salt to both slow the yeast and give the dough a nice balanced flavour.
The dough turns out a bit on the wet side, but still able to handle fairly easily when rolled out on parchment. The method of cooking works well because it is pre-cooked a little before it is topped with a light set of topping to let them finish off quickly as the dough finishes cooking. The one recommendation I would make is to pre-cut the mozzarella and place between several sheets of paper towel so that the mozza won’t make the finished pizza too wet.
Grilled Margherita Pizza – Recipe
2 tablespoons honey
3 cups warm water
4 1/2 dry active yeast (or 3 1/2 tsp rapid rise yeast)
7 cups all-purpose flour (2 lb 3 oz), plus more for dusting
1/4 cup olive oil
3 tbsp sea salt
28oz can whole plum tomatoes
1 lb mozzarella
Large bunch basil leaves, torn
- In a large bowl, combine the honey and water. Sprinkle the yeast over and allow it to sit until foamy – if using active yeast – about 8 minutes.
- Add the oil, flour (and rapid rise yeast, if using), and salt and mix until blended. Turn out the dough onto a well floured counter and knead until smooth. Place the dough into an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap until it doubles in volume, about 1 hour.
- Punch the dough down and cut into 4 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball on a clean counter and then place onto an oiled baking sheet. Brush each ball with oil and then cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator overnight. This time allows the dough to develop flavour.
- Prepare your sauce – open the can of tomatoes and remove the tomatoes (leave the liquid) to a bowl. Crush the tomatoes with your hands. This is your sauce – so simple, but so delicious.
- Cut the mozzarella into rounds and place between sheets of paper towel to remove water – otherwise it will come out as you cook and leave you little pools of water on the pizza.
- Light your grill and once hot turn one side down to medium-high and keep the other on high.
- On a sheet of parchment roll out each dough ball into an oval about 12″ wide.
- Flip one pizza dough onto the high heat side of grill and peel off the parchment. After one minute it should start to firm up and be easy to flip to the cooler side of the grill. Grill on the medium high side of the grill for 2 minutes until nicely browned. Flip back to the hot side. Be sure to keep the cover closed between flips.
- Top the pizza with a thin layer of sauce, then 1/4 of the mozza, a generous helping of basil, and a little dash of salt. Continue to cook with the cover closed for another minute then move to the cooler side and cook until the cheese has melted, about another minute.
- Remove from the grill and transfer to a cutting board.
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