It was Christmas 2005 when Sears delivered a gift that that would change my culinary life — a Weber propane grill.
My husband and I were hard-core charcoal grillers. We were the kind of people who soaked wood chips and used them to infuse our meats with different flavors. When we lived in Virginia, we even used our grill to cook a country ham, which took about 11 hours.
But this gift from my in-laws finally lured us over to the lazy-man's side.
I initially had my doubts. Would the food pick up weird flavors? What about that smoky charcoal taste? Isn't having a tank of propane near a flame dangerous?
All of these concerns melted away at the first click of the ignition button. With four children clamoring for dinner, all I had to do was turn a couple of knobs and press a button, and I would be grilling hamburgers…in December.
For a mom, not having to wait 40 minutes for the charcoal to whiten far outweighs the absence of authentic rustic flavor. Convenience wins every time.
When spring rolled around and grilling kicked into high gear, I remembered grilled pizza.
I first heard of this pizza method from a friend years ago. And I was immediately filled with fear. But my friend assured me grilling pizza was quick and easy, with an incredibly crispy crust and flavor that cannot be achieved in a traditional oven.
So I tried it on my charcoal grill. And it burned. Twice.
Eventually, I had some success on the charcoal grill, but the inconsistent results — and our growing family — discouraged me from frequent dough-grilling sessions.
This is where the propane grill comes in handy. Not only do the temperature controls make it perfect for cooking the pizza, but the rectangular shape of most gas grills lends itself well to cooking for a crowd.
After my first test pizza, I was hooked.
Although I used to make my own, now I buy two bags of refrigerated pizza dough to feed the six of us. The dough is available at all the supermarkets and is inexpensive.
However, if you want to make your own, try this recipe.
For a basic pie, you will need:
- Pizza dough
- Olive oil
- Pizza sauce (I like Scalfani)
When using vegetables, sautée or grill them beforehand to release some of their moisture.
Likewise, when using fresh mozzarella, try to press some of the liquid out of it before topping the pizza. Otherwise, the pizza may be soggy.
Some tasty combinations I have tried include roasted peppers, red onions and arugula; chorizo, onions and cheddar; sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers and prosciutto; sautéed spinach and garlic, shallots and shredded chicken.
There are a few important steps to follow in order to ensure success (click on the above PDF file to print).
- Take the dough out of the refrigerator about 15 minutes before you plan to use it. This will make it easier to shape.
- Prepare a tray with all your ingredients sliced and ready to go, including olive oil for the grill.
- Sprinkle a sheet pan generously with flour and stretch the dough into an even rectangle.
- Make sure the grill is heated to about 450°F and grease with olive oil.
- Turn the heat down to medium low after the crust is flipped.
So while spring may mean to some people dusting off the lawn mower, tackling outdoor projects and cheering on sports teams, the arrival of warm weather translates into one thing for our household: grillin' time.