Grilled Tomato and Cheese Pizzas for a Charcoal Grill

from Bridget Lancaster, Julia Collin Davison

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Makes four 9-inch pizzas

The pizzas cook very quickly on the grill, so before you begin grilling them, be sure to have all the equipment and ingredients you need at hand. Equipment includes a pizza peel (or a rimless baking sheet), a pair of tongs, a paring knife, a large cutting board, and a pastry brush; ingredients include all the toppings and a small bowl of flour for dusting. Timing and coordination are crucial; if you are unsure of your skill level, try cooking the first two pizzas one at a time, then work up to cooking the final two in tandem.
The pizzas are best served hot off the grill but can be kept warm for 20 to 30 minutes on a wire rack in a -200-degree oven. Hardwood charcoal and charcoal briquettes work equally well. Whichever you use, it is important that the coals be spread in an even layer over three-quarters of the grill bottom; coals placed any higher will scorch the crust.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup (8 ounces) water, room temperature
2 cups (11 ounces) bread flour plus more for the work surface
1 tablespoon whole-wheat flour (optional)
2 teaspoons sugar
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon instant yeast

1½ pounds plum tomatoes (5 to 6 medium), cored, seeded, and cut into ½-inch dice
¾ teaspoon salt
6 ounces fontina cheese, shredded (about 1½ cups)
1½ ounces Parmesan cheese, grated fine (about ¾ cup)
1 recipe Spicy Garlic Oil (see page 226)
½ cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Coarse salt

1. For the dough: Combine the oil and water in a liquid measuring cup. In a food processor fitted with the plastic dough blade or metal blade, process the bread flour, whole-wheat flour, sugar, salt, and yeast until combined, about 5 seconds. With the machine running, slowly add the liquid through the feed tube; continue to process until the dough forms a tacky, elastic ball that clears the sides of the workbowl, about 1½ minutes. If the dough ball does not form, add more flour 1 tablespoon at a time and process until a dough ball forms. Spray a medium bowl lightly with nonstick cooking spray or rub lightly with oil. Transfer the dough to a bowl and press down to flatten the surface; cover tightly with plastic wrap and set in a draft-free spot until doubled in volume, 1½ to 2 hours.

2. When the dough has doubled, press down gently to deflate; turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 4 equal pieces. With cupped palms, form each piece into a smooth, tight ball. Set the dough balls on a well-floured work surface. Press the dough rounds by hand to flatten; cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rest about 15 minutes.

3. For the topping: Meanwhile, toss the tomatoes and salt in a medium bowl; transfer to a colander and drain 30 minutes (wipe out and reserve the bowl). Shake the colander to drain off the excess liquid; transfer the tomatoes to the now-empty bowl and set aside. Combine the cheeses in a second medium bowl and set aside.

4. Gently stretch the dough rounds into disks about ½ inch thick and 5 to 6 inches in diameter. Working with one piece at a time and keeping the rest covered, roll out each disk to ⅛-inch thickness, 9 to 10 inches in diameter, on a well-floured sheet of parchment paper, dusting with additional flour as needed to prevent sticking. (If the dough shrinks when rolled out, cover with plastic wrap and let rest until relaxed, 10 to 15 minutes.) Dust the surface of the rolled dough with flour and set aside. Repeat with the remaining dough, stacking the sheets of rolled dough on top of each other (with parchment in between) and covering the stack with plastic wrap; set aside until the grill is ready.

5. To grill: Light a large chimney starter filled with hardwood charcoal or briquettes (about 6 quarts) and allow to burn until all the charcoal is covered with a layer of fine gray ash, 15 to 20 minutes. Empty the coals into the grill and spread into an even layer over three-quarters of the grill, leaving one quadrant free of coals. Position the cooking grate over the coals and heat until the grill is medium-hot, about 5 minutes (you can hold your hand 5 inches above the cooking grate for 4 seconds). Use a grill brush to scrape the cooking grate clean.

6. Lightly flour a pizza peel; invert 1 dough round onto the peel, gently stretching it as needed to retain its shape (do not stretch dough too thin; thin spots will burn quickly). Peel off and discard the parchment; carefully slide the round onto the hotter side of the grill. Immediately repeat with another dough round. Cook until the tops are covered with bubbles (pierce larger bubbles with a paring knife) and the bottoms are grill marked and charred in spots, 1 to 2 minutes; while the rounds cook, check the undersides and slide to a cooler area of the grill if browning too quickly. Transfer the crusts to a cutting board, browned-sides up. Repeat with the 2 remaining dough rounds.

7. Brush 2 crusts generously with Spicy Garlic Oil; top each evenly with one-quarter of the cheese mixture and one-quarter of the tomatoes. Return the pizzas to the grill and cover the grill with the lid; cook until the bottoms are well browned and the cheese is melted, 2 to 4 minutes, checking the bottoms frequently to prevent burning. Transfer the pizzas to a cutting board; repeat with the remaining 2 crusts. Sprinkle the pizzas with basil and coarse salt to taste; cut into wedges and serve immediately.

Grilled Tomato and Cheese Pizzas for a Gas Grill
1. Follow the recipe for Grilled Tomato and Cheese Pizzas for a Charcoal Grill through step 4.

2. Light all the burners and turn to high heat, cover the grill, and heat until hot, about 15 minutes. Use a grill brush to scrape the cooking grate clean.

3. Continue with the recipe from step 6, cooking the pizzas with the lid down in both steps 6 and 7 and increasing cooking times in steps 6 and 7 by 1 to 2 minutes, if needed.

Spicy Garlic Oil
Makes enough for 4 pizzas

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press (about 4 teaspoons)
½–¾ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Cook all the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the garlic begins to sizzle, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl.