We had a hankering for pizza and try as I might I could find no specific instructions for how to use a pizza stone on an open grill. We tested this method out twice, once with friends who came for dinner and once more with my sis and I think that this is the best way to make pizza when you have a stone , a grill, and no pizza paddle.
First things first, the whole point of a pizza stone is that it gets extremely hot, hotter than your oven, too hot to touch with even an oven mitt (which is why people sometimes use a wooden paddle). Ours conveniently came with a metal ring with handles so you can move it around, otherwise you must be very careful. Secondly, after it’s heated you can not get even one drop of water on it or it will shatter, so if it might rain don’t even think about a pizza stone outside. Thirdly, homemade pizza does NOT have to be complicated- I make 2 or 3 times the dough I’m going to need at one time and freeze it. I do the same with the tomato sauce.
Pizza Dough (adapted from epicurious)
This is enough for nine 12 inch pizzas. (This might seem excessive but you are going to thank yourself later when you have ready made dough available in the freezer)
3 tablespoons dry yeast
4 1/2 cups warm water
7 cups white flour
3 cups wheat flour
3 tablespoons evoo
pinch of salt
Mix together the yeast and warm water in a bowl and let sit until it gets foamy. Meanwhile, sift together the flour and salt in a bowl. Make a mound with the flour and a divet on the top. Pour in the water yeast mixture in the divet, then the olive oil and salt. Use a spatula to mix the ingredients together. After that becomes too tough, knead it together with your hands to form a dough. Sprinkle a work surface with flour and continue to knead the dough. Spread a little olive oil in a (large) bowl and put the dough in. Cover the bowl with a dish towel and leave for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. After that, punch the dough back down, oil your hands a bit and spread the dough out on your work surface. Using a pizza knife separate the though into 9 equal pieces. You can store the pieces you are not going to use individually in a ziploc bag in the freezer, first covering the dough ball with oil. I use one dough ball per person.
Pizza sauce: (adapted from Mark Bittman)
Again it seems a bit over the top but the idea is to freeze it and have future easy peasy glorious pizza making nights.
6 pounds or 3 kilograms tomatoes whole (again, sorry northern hemisphere dwellers)
1 medium large onion, roughly chopped
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2 bird’s eye chillies, chopped
3 teaspoons salt or to taste
1 teaspoon chili pepper flakes or to taste
Basil, slivered to taste
1 tablespoon evoo
In this recipe instead of blanching and pealing the tomatoes, I simply cook them down and use an immersion blender and nobody is the wiser. First, heat the olive oil on medium high heat in a large pot until it’s shimmering. Add the onions, garlic, and bird’s eye chillies and cook until the onions are translucent. Add the tomatoes, whole, and cover until they cook down, occasionally stirring and smashing the tomatoes with your spoon. Add your basil, salt and chili flakes, stirring until the tomatoes are sauce like. This will take a long time, I let mine cook for 20-30 minutes. Then using an immersion blender or some such (carefully!) puree the ingredients. After this it might be a tad watery so let it simmer and cook down until you are satisfied with the consistency. Taste and adjust the seasonings. I threw in some oregano that I had lying around and extra chili. After you are finished with your pizzas you can freeze the left over (there will be a lot!) in a large freezer bag.
Toppings: Obviously the pizza toppings are up to you. We used (not necessarily together) mozzarella and goat’s cheese cut into cubes, spinach, cherry tomatoes, red bell peppers, mushrooms, fresh basil, thyme and parsley, chorizo, bacon, and avocado. My biggest tip is using lazy garlic (pre minced garlic in a jar of water) in the second layer.
Cooking the pizza:
1. Start the fire in the braai. Leave your oven on broil.
2. (Optional) While the fire is being started you can preheat the stone in your oven on the highest temperature. If you do this make sure you have a way to transport the stone from the oven to the braai. Otherwise keep the stone over the fire as the fire heats up.
3. On a tray, spread some wax paper, sprinkle some flour on it and a rolling pin and roll out one ball of dough. Pile on your toppings starting with one ladle-full of tomato sauce. Be sure not to put your fresh herbs on the pizza until after it’s been cooked.
4. Bring the tray over to the stone and using two people slide the pizza still on the wax paper on to the stone. Since the stone is unimaginably hot it will only take about 5 minutes for your pizza to be ready. After it’s done, using two people, dexterity and possibly some tongs slide the pizza back onto the tray.
5. Put the pizza in the oven on broil for one minute to finish it off straight on the grates still on the wax paper. This makes up for having an open grill. It might seem like a tedious thing to do but making pizzas outside with your guests is so much fun and worth it. Finish with fresh herbs if using.
**Serving suggestion: since you can only make one pizza at a time, I usually have each person top one pizza, then when the pizza is finished everyone gets a slice of that pizza while the next pizza is being cooked. And red wine. Lots of red wine. Also salad. Not as exciting as red wine.
***Remember to carefully remove your stone from the grill and cool it down before bringing it inside. If you’re having guests just let it cool off while you spend the evening getting more and more tipsy off of red wine and make sure to leave it under an outdoor roof or overhang in case of a sudden downpour, which is entirely likely in Jozi.