Seasonal Cooking with Rita Calvert~The Kitchen Gardener Cook
With the great Tomato Festival at Homestead Gardens up-and-coming (which includes the pizza eating contest), Bonnie Finlay, event planner for Homestead Gardens, has given a few details and for the ticket price you get to sample the chilies, salsa(s), tomatoes and plus other tomato based products highlighted for the day. Live entertainment-demos-fun are totally included!
We want to focus on tomatoes this week and also cooking pizza (graced with tomatoes) over a live fire and in the fresh air.
The recipe is an excerpt from my new cookbook, The Grassfed Gourmet Fires It Up! (coauthored by Clagett Farm’s, Michael Heller.) Pizza on the grill may be an entirely new venture. It’s a delightful skill to master and you’ll feel you have created an earthy example out of a culinary art when it’s finished. Freeform and natural is the way to go—you don’t want that production-line look with symmetrical crusts and mathematically spaced toppings. Use this pizza recipe as a guide and you will advance from here to designing your favorite combinations, styles, and even crust shapes.
You’ll soon be ready to play with a ready-made, raw dough ball for pizza (unless, of course, you are a baker but, then, this section isn’t necessary for you anyway). Finally, you may become such a pizza champ that making your own dough and grilling the pizza is a breeze. Take note: Dough can be made ahead and reserved in the fridge or frozen for up to 2 months.
You can’t deny that a grilled pizza, crusty and smoky from a live fire, is one of the most tantalizing dishes imaginable. The preparation can get complex, but not if we can have a hand in making it carefree. One needs to FEEEEEL the cooking process and develop your own rhythm.
You have many options now for the pizza dough. If you are a purist or just love the ceremony, make it from scratch. The frozen pizza dough found in many markets tastes pretty close to handmade after you’ve had some practice with it. Of course, the simplest is the par-baked pizza shell that often comes frozen or shelf-stable. Don’t fret too much about the shape of the pizza dough—hand-hewn and rustic is the most authentic.
Organize a few things first to make the experience fun and incredibly scrumptious. Pizzas grill very quickly so you won’t have time to regroup or find missing equipment. Set up a prep or cooking table next to the grill for all your ingredients, tools and cutting board to cut the finished pizza, and serving platters.
We suggest that you invest in a stainless-steel pizza peel (with a wooden handle) rather than a wooden one. The care and maintenance are simpler with stainless and you won’t have mishaps with it catching fire.
Decide on the style of dough you want to use and then top it with our version below or ad lib to create your designer-grilled masterpiece.
Note in this recipe as with any grilled pizza, you may need to transfer the pizza back and forth from direct to indirect heat until you have the balance conquered. You are actually learning the artisan technique. This balance yields golden brown dough, nicely melted cheese, toppings which are warm but not seared dry.
Pollo Pizza with Baby Bellas
- 8 ounces grilled chicken breast, shredded into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup baby portabella mushrooms, sliced ¼-inch-thick and tossed in extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 green onions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil plus extra for pizza dough
- 1 pound freshly made pizza dough or frozen pizza crust dough, thawed, and shaped into a desired pizza shell
- 2 medium Roma tomatoes, seeded and thinly sliced
- 1½ cups provolone, coarsely grated
- 8 fresh medium basil leaves, cut into fine strips
Preheat half of the grill to medium high.
Place the chicken breasts strips, sliced mushrooms, and green onions in a medium bowl, and toss with the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover and let stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to blend flavors. Prepare a space next to the grill for the toppings.
Brush the dough lightly with olive oil and flip, oiled-side down, and transfer to the hot side of grill. Grill until marks form, about two minutes. Slide a pizza peel or spatula underneath to loosen the dough and to check for doneness. The dough may start to bubble at this point. Pop the bubbles with a fork or the edge of the spatula. Flip and transfer to the INDIRECT side of grill.
Spread the tomato slices evenly over the dough, sprinkle the chicken, mushrooms, scallion mixture evenly over the tomatoes, and then top with provolone.
NOW TRANSFER THE PIZZA BACK TO THE DIRECT FLAME/HEAT SIDE OF THE GRILL. Cover the grill and cook until the cheese melts, about 4-6 minutes.
Transfer the grilled pizza to a cutting board; cut into pieces, and serve. Sprinkle with the fresh basil as you are serving.