One night when we were ready to order our customary Friday night pizza for delivery, my husband had an idea: How about pizza from scratch? We like really thin crust and relatively plain toppings. He found a recipe and he has since tweaked it to make it his own. And now that the method is well-practiced and the sous-chef (me) keeps on top of gathering the toppings and any necessary prep, plus cleaning up, plus turning on and testing the oven, we can enjoy a really good pizza in less time than it takes for delivery. Granted, it is easier to pick up the phone and order a pizza, but not nearly as much fun!
This summer, we got really adventurous and thought we would make pizza on the grill. I spied and ordered a really great pizza stone made by Emile Henre. It is red ceramic and you can heat it up to 700° plus it cleans up unbelievably well – even the crusty burned-on cheese comes right off. I ordered it from a catalog in the spring, but I have since seen it at Sur La Table in Naperville.
My husband’s Christmas list last year included a pyrometer – an instrument to measure the temperature of anything. When he got it, we were measuring things like the dog’s ear, the cat’s nose, but since then it has proven invaluable as a cooking tool, in particular for the pizza. We had no idea what a pizza peel was, as most recipes call for using one, so we went to William Sonoma and bought a peel.
For this week’s dinner, I made a roasted vegetable pizza with onions, mini bell peppers, eggplant and zucchini, all available at Farmer’s Market. The vegetables are all beautiful, it is difficult to decide what to pick. We also made a cheese and sausage pizza for the meat-and-potatoes crowd, my husband.
Pizza Crust (we split this dough into 2 pieces and refrigerate one for later in the week)
- 3 c flour
- 1 envelope fast-rising dry yeast
- ¼ t salt
- 1 c very warm water (110-120° tested with pyrometer)
- 1 t sugar
- 2 T olive oil
- Combine flour, yeast, sugar and salt in bowl.
- Heat water in microwave and test with pyrometer
- Stir in water and olive oil until well blended.
- Place dough on lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes. Cover with a towel and let rest for at least 20 minutes.
- Roll dough to desired thin-ness.
- Flour pizza peel, place dough on peel and assemble pizza, making sure the pizza can still slide off the peel. If it is sticky, add more flour to the peel.
Pizza Toppings (anything you choose!)
- Italian sausage, sautéed
- Grated mozzarella cheese
- Pizza sauce (we used the canned Pastorelli)
- Roasted vegetables: cut up vegetables into pieces, place in 9x 13 pan, toss with olive oil and fresh basil and oregano.
While dough is rising, roast the vegetables in a 400°oven for 25 minutes. Light grill or start the charcoal for the charcoal grill.
Place the stone directly on the grill after distributing the hot coals. Using your pyrometer, check that the stone is at least 375°. This heating process takes about 5-7 minutes.
With the thin crust that we like, this pizza cooks in only 5-8 minutes. Check the bottom of the crust and remove the pizza with the peel. Place the hot pizza on a pizza stone or another cutting board and slice. You can also take the stone off the grill and bring it in the house, but it is extremely hot—best to use barbecue mitts.
Sounds complicated, but I have included photos for each step. The fresh vegetables were wonderful, this pizza is so good. No preservatives, and made with loving hands.
We paired it with Two Brothers Prairie Path, a golden ale brewed very close to home. We like to drink indigenous. Two Brothers has a great brewpub in Warrenville and the chef is wonderful. This beer is a 5.5% alcohol and rounds out the meal perfectly with just a bit of malt and spice.
Until next week, au bon vivant!