Pizza is communal, pizza is fun. You can eat it with your hands, with a knife and fork, hot from the pizza box, or cold from the fridge.
You place it in the center of the table, and everyone reaches in to grab a slice. It brings people together. For such a simple food, it holds a lot of cards. And the possibilities are endless, there's pizza with sauce, pizza without, pizza with barbecue sauce, pizza with chicken, pizza with fruit. There's even pizza with salad on top and a layer of ranch dressing hidden beneath (the BLT from Avalanche pizza in Athens, OH. Sounds awful, i know, but it really isn't. It's actually genius.)
But even better then pizza, and all it entails, is making your own pizza. Stretching out the dough, layering whatever toppings you can come up with, and watching as everything caramelizes and melts together. It's a pretty awesome experience. I like to make my dough from scratch. It takes a bit of effort and time, but the first bite of your Italian restaurant quality crust will melt away the memories of the hard work you put into it.
The homemade dough is the first trick in making a quality pizza at home, the second is the barbecue. That's right, you read it correctly. The barbecue. When I first read about it i thought, "well, that's a novel idea, why not? It's fun to cook things on the grill." But I was just naive. Cooking your pizza on the grill isn't just for the novelty of it, it's the trick. It's the closet thing most of us home cooks have to a pizza oven. It gives you a crunchy bottom, and a soft chewy crust. And it only takes five to seven minutes to cook. I have not looked into it but my guess is that there is steam in the barbecue that helps the cough cook properly.
Anyway, give it a try. You will never want to go back to the oven.
If you don't have time to make the dough, some stores, such as trader joe's, sell uncooked pizza dough that's not bad. The recipe uses instant yeast, this is not the same as the dry active yeast you buy in little packets at the grocery store. You can buy it at King Arthur Flour. It costs about $ 6.00, but lasts for an entire year, even if you are an avid baker.
Recipe adapted from Artisan Baking by Maggie Glezer, makes four pizzas
500 grams flour
10 grams salt
300 grams water
1/4 tsp instant yeast (not dry active)
Measure and mix the dry ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer (or a regular big bowl if you don't have the mixer). With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the water. Once all the water has been added, mix on medium speed for about three more minutes.
Cover the bowl and let the dough rest for ten minutes, then mix for another three minutes on medium speed, until the dough is smooth.
Scoop the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and cut into four equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a tight ball, and place on a floured tray, and cover with plastic wrap. Let sit for 5-6 hours. Give the dough ample space as it will grow significantly.
Now comes the fun part. Making the pizza. Stretch out your dough to the desired thinness. Be careful not to make it too thin because it can tear, and also it needs to be strong enough to hold the ingredients.To stretch out the dough you can do a number of things. You can go the easy route, and roll it out with a rolling pin. You can be daring and throw it in the air like the pros. Or you can take a neutral route and softly stretch the dough by pushing out with the palms of your hands. Do this on a buttered and cornmeal dusted piece of aluminum foil. Now your pizza is ready to be topped.
*The dough can be wrapped in plastic and stored in the fridge if you don't want to use it all right away.
summer veggies such as squash, peppers, zucchini and onions
Once the dough is ready to have toppings added you should fire up the grill. A pizza is normally baked at 550, so get the grill nice and hot. The ingredients list above is just a suggestion. Go wild. Put whatever you can dream up on your pizza. I just have a few pieces of advice. Don't put too much sauce. A little goes a long way here, and a lot just makes it soggy. On the other hand, when it comes to cheese, the more the merrier. And goat cheese gets all warm and delicious on a pizza, so if you have some in the fridge, throw it on. Don't forget to salt your pizza, and fresh basil added afterwards is a great addition. Once you have all your toppings, and the grill is nice and hot, slide your pizza on and close the grill. Allow six minutes, and then check on it. It should be done at this point, but if the crust isn't yet golden, give it a couple more minutes. Be careful, the pizza comes out very hot, so give it a second to cool. Then enjoy!