Here in Chicago, pizza is kiiiiiiiiiind of a big deal. Whether it be Giordano’s, Connie’s, Pizzeria Uno or Lou Malnati’s (my PERSONAL favorite!), people love their pies and are usually pretty adamant about Chicago pizza being the best in the land (note: New Yorkers usually feel the same way about their pizza, so look out!) Since these cheesy, stuffed crust delights can be a little high in calories (and in price!), Dan and I have practiced making our own quite a few times. I have blogged about several of these successes in the past, but I got quite a few questions about the deep dish grilled pizza, so that is the topic for today!
First, let’s give credit where it’s due. My lovely college roommate, Anna, actually inspired the trend of grilling pizzas in our household. She frequently hosts parties where guests can order toppings that she turns into custom-made pizza. Since she does not live near me, I had to take it upon myself to learn this art. But, as with anything Dan gets involved with, we put our own spin on it and handle our grilled pizzas a little bit differently (don’t worry, there will be a section at the end about how master Anna works her magic).
Dan and I start with a pre-mixed dough for the crust (there are a couple of options for this at either Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods). We roll out the crust and place it in a cast iron skillet.
We bake this in the oven for a bit to start. Then comes the fun part. Toppings! To each his own, of course, but Dan and I usually enjoy using fresh mozzarella on our pizzas. We have also used goat cheese, a variety of shredded Cheddar or Mexican mixes and even Feta! In my book, pretty much any cheese is good cheese, but I have provided some great topping combinations below for anyone who doesn’t feel like thinking 🙂
Monterey Jack Cheese
Chorizo (spicy sausage!)
Jalapeno Peppers (Or even Habanero if you can stand the heat!)
Top with Plain Greek Yogurt (it tastes just like sour cream)
Feta Cheese (You can add a bit of Mozzarella in there as well since Feta doesn’t melt particularly well)
Roasted Red Peppers
Eggplant Parm Pizza
Eggplant (or chicken, veal, etc. whatever you prefer)
Tomato Sauce (Mario Batali makes a GREAT instructional video about an easy way to do this yourself)
As you become more seasoned (no pun intended), experimentation is key! No two pizzas are ever the same in our household, and I have some new ideas I’d like to try, including:
Buffalo Chicken Pizza (with Bleu Cheese and celery bits – yum!)
BLT Pizza (use Greek Yogurt as a mayo stand-in plus veggie bacon)
Breakfast for Dinner Pizza (featuring bacon bits, egg and pieces of French Toast)
Note: if we are doing a pizza with sauce, we add all the other ingredients first and pour the sauce on top as pictured below.
Once all the toppings are added to the crust, it’s time to grill! You have to watch it closely to avoid burning the pizza, but on our propane grill (which we hate, we’re just not allowed to have any other kind in our apartment complex), it takes about 30 minutes for it to get nice and crispy. Our most recent treasure looked like this.
One of the trickiest parts of the whole process is getting the pie out of the cast iron skillet in one piece. Dan is lucky because he has me as a super scooper helper. I create a pincer with two large utensils to lift while Dan pushes it out.
After that, all that’s left to do is let it cool a bit and then dig in!
As promised, here are the top five tips and tricks of the trade from Anna, master of the Grilled Pizza Party:
1. Never use the wheat dough from Trader Joe’s because it doesn’t work as well on the grill – the white dough is much better.
2. You always think the dough will fall through the cracks on the grill, but it doesn’t! (Anna cooks her pizzas directly on the grill instead of putting a cast iron skillet in the middle).
3. I have found that everyone loves goat cheese.
4. Necessary tools for good pizza making are good tongs (for flipping the pizza) and a giant cutting board (to handle the chopping of all your delicious toppings)
5. I use hand shredded Fontina cheese and sliced Mozzarella to create the base for my pizzas.
What kind of pizza do YOU want to make?