Although I generally don’t do anything particularly extraordinary, it appears, based on the reaction of my dinner guests, that my pizza is not bad, decent pizza. They appear to really like it and some have even been unabashed in trying to emulate what I do. (I suppose this is an ultimate flattery–which I fully support by coaching them in achieving good results). As I posted before, I use a hot oven with a pizza stone but for some time I’ve wanted to make pizza in the Weber kettle. I bought a pizza stone for the Weber more than 1 year ago but I did not have a chance to try it until this Memorial day.
I decided to make a pizza Marguerite as shown below.
Mine is very basic without any special ingredients. The amount here is more than enough to make two pizzas (about 8 inch in diameter). I first added light olive oil (4 tbs) in a pan on low flame. I then add chopped garlic (3 fat cloves, finely chopped) and let it fry slowly for several minutes or until fragrant but not browned. I added one can of whole Italian tomatoes with its juice (cut into small chunks, 15 oz). I seasoned it with dried oregano (1/2 tsp), dried basil (1/2 tsp), black pepper, and salt. I simmered it for about 1 hour with a lid off (left upper in the image below). I made a sauce dry without any extra moisture (right upper in the image below).
: There are quite a few different types of Pizza stones for grills being sold. What I got is semicircular shaped which fits into the 22.5 inch Weber Kettle perfectly and the bottom cutout precisely corresponds with the grill’s hinged grate so that you could add coals and wood chips during the cooking. It came with instructions but I could not find them. So I used my common sense but obviously some more refinement is required to perfect pizza made on the Weber grill as you can see below. I prepared the lump hardwood charcoal using a Although I generally don’t do anything particularly extraordinary, it appears, based on the reactions of my dinner guest’s that my pizza is not bad chimney starter as usual. I spread the hot coals in the bottom of the grill, placed the grate and the pizza stone over them. I let the stone warm up with the lid on for 30 minutes. Just before putting on the pizza, I threw in apple wood chips soaked in water.
Dough: This is my usual pizza dough. I proof the yeast by dissolving yeast (1 package) in ⅕ cup lukewarm water with a pinch of sugar. After 5 minutes, the mixture got bubbly indicating good vigorous yeast. I added cold water to make it to 1 cup. In a food processor with a dough blade, I added bread flour (3 and ¼ cup) and salt (1/2 tbs). While on low speed, I drizzled olive oil (2 tbs) and then 1 cup of water and the yeast mixture. I watched until a dough ball formed on the blade and added a little more water (2-3 more tbs). I stopped the blade and touched the dough to make sure the dough was soft and slightly sticky. I let it sit for 5 minutes to distribute the water evenly. I turned on the food processor on low speed for 30 seconds or so. I dumped out the dough on a well floured board and kneaded for 5 minutes until the dough was nicely elastic and the surface was smooth. I sprayed the inside of a one-gallon size Ziploc bag with PAM and placed the dough inside and squeezed out the air as much as you could and sealed it shut. I let it raise for 1-2 hours on the counter top (the volume doubles). After deflating the dough, I divided it into 4 and made small balls. I let it rest for 5-10 minutes so that the dough will relax. I made it to a 8 inch round by stretching the dough (first the edge of the dough and then center which was repeated).
Cheese: For one pizza, I used fresh Mozzarella (high moisture content) and for another smoked one with low moisture content. Both are sliced but not shredded.
Assembly and baking for the first pizza: I first placed the stretched dough on wooden pizza peel which is covered with cornmeal. I brushed the dough with garlic infused olive oil (finely chopped garlic placed in olive oil. You should do this just before baking pizza. If you keep garlic under the oil too long, you may risk botulism). I first placed the slices of fresh Mazzerella cheese on top of the dough followed by my tomato sauce. I put the cheese next to the crust and the sauce on top of the cheese for several reasons. First it provides a barrier between the crust and the moisture of the sauce preventing the crust from becoming soggy. Second, if the cheese is put on top of the sauce the molten cheese sometimes slides off the pizza like a magma flow while you’re trying to eat the slice because the sauce underneath provides no traction for the weight of the cheese on top (common among chain-store pizzas). I slid the dough with the topping directly on the top of the stone (image above), closed the lid and baked it for 7-8 minutes.
Assembly and baking for the second pizza: For this one, I first baked the dough blank on the stone (This is what I do if I am not using the stone) for 3-4 minutes or until the bottom of the dough was firm and the surface started puffing up. I flipped it over and place the sliced smoked Mazzerella cheese and spread the tomato sauce on the top. I closed the lid and let it bake for another 5 minutes.
For both pizza, after baking, I grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese on the top and garnished it with chiffonade of fresh basil (top picture).
Well, both were more than edible but not my best. The bottom got a bit high-done on the first one–it was quite crispy but basically carbonized. The second one was much better. I may have to do some rearranging to the charcoal next time; maybe using semi-indirect heat. Both pizzas, did not have the wood smoke flavor I was expecting. I may have to add more wood chips and few minutes before baking pizza especially since the pizza does not stay in the Weber for long. But with a good red wine, the pizza was great. After two pizzas, I also baked a blank dough brushed with olive oil and torn leaves of fresh rosemary from our herb garden with some kosher salt sprinkled on after baking. This makes a sort of thin crunchy foccasia bread. Of course, we did not finish the pizza especially since we also cooked teba gyoza and beef back rib. The leftover pizza re-heated well in the toaster oven on ensuing weekday evenings which was a wonderful appetiser to come home to after a hard day of work.