"You better cut the pizza in four pieces, because I'm not hungry enough to eat six."
Pizza on the grill may seem like the latest, er, outbreak of a live fire fever sweeping Planet Barbecue. But the grilled pizza dates back at least a quarter century -- and very likely more.
The place: Providence, Rhode Island. The restaurant: Al Forno. "One of our vendors raved about a grilled pizza he'd experienced in Italy," recalls Al Forno co-owner Johanne Killeen. "He had probably mistaken a wood-fired oven for a grill." But Al Forno didn't have a wood-burning oven at the time, so Killeen and partner George Germon decided to drape a rectangle of pizza dough directly on the grate of their charcoal-burning grill. The crust puffed and blistered, acquiring fire-singed edges, a crackling crisp texture, and a flavor that made you sit up and take notice.
It was everything pizza should be -- and less -- boasting the smoky taste of Indian naan and the puffy moistness of freshly baked pita -- but without the gloppy cheese or pooled pepperoni grease associated with the pies at commonplace pizza joints. It quickly became a culinary icon --- and more recently, one of the most popular dishes Americans grill.
In honor of National Pizza Month (we have one week left) we thought we'd give you the Barbecue Bible take on grilled pizza, including history, how-tos,and recipes. Afterward, you decide if it's better than what you've been making in your kitchen oven. We know our vote.
To make true grilled pizza:
- Set up your grill (gas, charcoal, or wood-fired) for two-zone grilling so you have a hotter section where you can sear the dough, and a cooler section where you can apply and cook the toppings. If your grill is large enough, also maintain a fire-free "safety zone."
Find out an alternative method to making pizza, where you grill-bake a pizza on a pizza stone.
Finally, 5 explosively flavorful toppings to take your grilled pizza to the next level:
- Cooked crumbled Mexican-style chorizo, diced roasted poblano or New Mexican chile peppers, diced tomatoes, sliced scallions, grated Oaxacan or pepper Jack cheese, cilantro leaves
What are YOUR favorite ways to grill pizza? What are YOUR favorite toppings? Share it with us on the Barbecue Board.
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