Made with a simple, flavorful, rustic dough, excellent for grilling, and substantial enough to stand up to your juiciest farm fresh tomatoes!
1-2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Assorted, fresh, colorful, heirloom or cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/2 Cup fresh basil leaves, whole or coarsely chopped
1/4 lb fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/4 inch thick
The Dough: (Yields two medium pizzas)
1 Tbsp granulated sugar
1 Cup warm (110F) water
1 envelope (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
2 1/4 – 2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1 cup yellow coarse polenta (or cornmeal)
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
In a small bowl, dissolve the sugar in warm tap water that registers 110F-115F (verify with an instant read thermometer; if the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast, if it’s too cold the yeast will not activate). Sprinkle the yeast over the water and stir gently until the yeast dissolves, about 60 seconds. Let stand in a warm location until a thin layer of beige foam covers the surface, about 5 minutes, indicating that the yeast is active. (If yeast bubbles do not form in 5 minutes, start again using a fresh package of yeast).
Combine 2 1/4 cups of the flour and polenta in a bowl. Set aside. Reserve the remaining flour for kneading.
Using a heavy-duty standing mixer, combine the flour mixture, the salt, yeast mixture, and oil in the mixer bowl. Attach the flat beater, gradually turn on the machine to medium speed, and beat until well mixed, about 60 seconds. Replace the flat beater with the dough hook, and knead at low-medium speed until the dough is smooth and elastic, approximately 5 minutes. Pinch off a piece of the dough, and if it feels sticky, continue kneading while slowly adding just enough of the remaining flour for the dough to lose its stickiness. Atmospheric temperature and humidity can affect the stickiness of the dough. Add more flour as needed. Typically more flour is required if using coarse polenta, less flour if using cornmeal. The dough should pull away from the side of the bowl cleanly.
Shape the dough into a ball and place it in a well oiled bowl, turning to coat completely on all sides with oil (this prevents the dough from forming a hard crust and inhibiting rising). Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap to prevent moisture loss, and set to rise in a draft-free place (75-85F) until doubled in bulk (about 45 minutes for quick-acting yeast; 1-1 1/2 hours for traditional yeast).
As soon as the dough has doubled in bulk, punch the dough down with your fist to prevent overrising. Shape the dough into a ball, pressing out all the air bubbles. If you cannot bake the pizza within 2 hours of rising, cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. (The dough can be punched down a total of 4 times and kept refrigerated for no more than 36 hours. The dough can also be frozen at this stage, and stored for later use; thaw the dough completely and allow the dough to come to room temperature before using).
To Grill the Pizza:
Heat the grill. For gas, turn one burner to high and the other (or others) as low as possible. For charcoal, get the coals white hot, and then push the coals into a ring around around the perimeter).
Shape the dough into a round or oval-whatever fits the grill best. The goal is to not have the pizza dough over direct high heat. Sprinkle a wooden pizza peel (or thin wooden cutting board) with 1-2 tsp of polenta (or cornmeal), and set the shaped dough on the peel. Slide the dough onto the cool part of the grill (do NOT grease the grill).
Close the lid, and grill for about 3 minutes. Lift the lid and look at the dough; it should start bubbling on the top. Carefully lift the edge with a spatula to look for light-brown grill lines, but not too much brown. If the bottom looks about right, lift the dough onto a pizza peel with two spatulas, and invert it onto a cornmeal dusted peel (cooked side UP). Close the lid on the grill to conserve heat. Brush the cooked side lightly with olive oil, and add the tomato, basil and mozzerella topping.
With the peel, slide the pizza back onto the cool part of the grill and close the lid. Cook the pizza for about 10 minutes, until the bottom shows nice grill marks and is slightly crisp but not burned. Slide the finished pizza off the grill, cut, serve and enjoy!