I’ve often said I have the palate of a 12-year-old. “Fancy” food is not my forte. Give me simple, flavorful and wholesome — yes, first and foremost simple — meals any day. I don’t want a million ingredients. I’m not a culinary trail-blazer. What appeals to me most are dishes that deliver great quality, great natural flavors and a great eating experience.
I’ve also often said that if I could only eat one food for the rest of my life, I’d pick pizza. Sure, there are a billion other delicious choices out there, and I’m a beef fanatic to the core. But there’s something so appealing about the simple combination of crust, sauce, cheese and toppings that’s genius, in my ever-so-humble opinion.
Plus, pizza is so versatile. Everyone makes it differently, and as the adage goes, even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. It caters to the individualist in each of us and is perhaps the most eminently customizable meal out there. My family takes this reality to heart, and has made Make-Your-Own-Pizza night a regular favorite. I dare say they even like it better than delivery.
This summer, we’re raising the game by grilling our pizzas — and they’re delicious, thanks to those inimitable added flavors you only get from cooking over flame. Your trusty backyard grill gives you the convenience and easy clean-up you’ve come to know and love, and a delicious, hearty meal without having to heat up your kitchen. Keep in mind that you can modify any oven-baked pizza recipe for the grill … just watch your cooking time.
If you’ve never tried grilling pizza, you probably have the same first thought I did … won’t the raw dough stick to the grill grates? Short answer: nope! Longer answer: the same techniques that ensure great grilled steaks also apply to other foods, too.
Step 1: Start with a HOT grill.
If you can hold your hand over it for longer than a second or two, it’s not hot enough. (Keep in mind that most professional pizza ovens get much hotter than your home oven — so grilling is sort of a natural variation on the idea.) Of course, this is also good advice for pretty much everything you want to throw on the barbie.
Step 2: Shut the lid and leave it alone.
Once you place your dough on the grill, shut the lid and leave it in place until it develops some nice browning on the bottom. You’ll know it’s ready to flip when it pulls away easily from the grates — and that’s true for steaks, as well.
Step 3: It’s time to talk toppings. Your choice of sauce (marinara or pesto?), followed by cheese (as much as you like, of whatever varieties) and then your toppings. Go traditional with mushrooms and pepperoni, or try something new — sliced steak and roasted red peppers, perhaps? The beautiful part is you really can’t mess it up. It’s YOUR pizza, you can top it any way you like, thankyouverymuch.
*Note: now that your pie has been topped, you can’t flip it any more. I mean, you won’t need to, but you literally can’t, unless you want a ruined dinner and a huge mess on your grill. This is good practice for the next time you cook steaks or burgers, which — as leading grilling experts recommend — you also want to flip only once if possible.
Step 4: Once the cheese has melted – usually a minute or two – you’re done. That’s fast food. Carefully remove your pizza from the grill — for me, that’s the most challenging part of this meal — and let it rest a minute or two before serving. You’d want to do the same before slicing into anything.
And that’s pretty much it. Simple, delicious and just … awesome. Feeling inspired? Here are a couple recipes to try:
Need to brush up on your grilling basics? Certified Angus Beef ® brand Chef Michael Ollier is here to help.