Saturday, September 18, 2010

Grilled Pizzas - the Perfect Food for the Steelers Trip to Nashville

With the Steelers heading down to Nashville today, not a good place for them, historically (I think they've won just one game in Tennessee since the Oilers moved there -- oy), I thought about making BBQ in honor of the host team. I had some of the best BBQ of my life in Nashville several years ago when I was there with the Pittsburgh Passion, but proper BBQ is an an all day project. I'd have to have the pork butt on the grill smoking around 4:00 a.m., so ...

I thought I'd create little grilled pizzas, using the Mark Bittman flatbread recipe I used last week (I have been critical of Bittman in the past, but those flatbreads rocked) and creating my own margarita style pizzas from there. Here's the plan:

The Crust.

2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3 cups all-purpose flour
Extra virgin olive oil as needed

-- Whisk together the salt, sugar, yeast and 1 cup warm water in a large bowl. Let the mixture sit until it begins to froth, about 5 minutes, then add the flour and mix until well combined. (If the dough is very dry, add more warm water a tablespoon at a time to moisten it.) Cover and let rise somewhere warm for about an hour.

-- Although Bittman does not call for it, at this point, I knead it again, and let it rise again, what my great-grandmother called 'punching it down.' I always think that multiple rises (raises?) gives anything yeasty a better, lighter feel. It doesn't take a full hour to come up a second time, usually only 15 or 20 minutes or so, but your mileage may vary. When the dough has puffed up a second time, transfer it to a well-floured surface and knead until soft and silky, about five minutes.

-- Cut the dough into eight equally sized pieces and roll each one out; don’t worry about making these perfectly round - a kind of lopsided rectangle is just fine - but try to keep them relatively even in thickness.

-- Prepare a grill; the heat should be medium-high and the rack about 4 inches from the fire. If you're using a gas grill, as I am, once the grill is hot, at least 300 degrees, turn off two of the burners. You'll need a 'cooler' side to work on.

-- Brush one side of the rolled dough with olive oil. I'm using garlic oil - which is just olive oil into which I toss chopped garlic. I don't like big hunks of garlic, but I like the flavor, so this works best for me. You can strain out the garlic or just work around it.

-- Place the dough on the grill, oiled side down. Within a minute the dough will puff slightly, the underside will stiffen, and grill marks will appear. Using tongs, immediately flip the crust over, onto the coolest part of the grill. Quickly brush the grilled surface with olive oil. Scatter the cheese over the dough, spoon dollops of tomato over the cheese, and add the prosciutto over that. Do not cover the entire surface of the pizza with tomatoes.

-- Slide the pizza back toward the hot coals, but not directly over them. Using tongs, rotate the pizza frequently so that different sections receive high heat; check the underside often to see that it is not burning. The pizza is done when the top is bubbly and the cheese melted, about 6 minutes. Serve at once.

The Toppings are easy, but you can use what you like. I used:

fresh buffalo mozzerella
imported prosciutto
grilled tomatoes.
These, I just core and quarter, toss with oil and salt and toss on the grill. When one side gets charred, flip it and continue until each tomato is charred all over and soft. Once grilled, toss the tomatoes in a bowl with julienned basil. The sauce is really that simple.

Enjoy! And go Steelers!