BBQ Pizza is on our minds. Summer is here, and the grill is hot, so on the menu today BBQ Pizza Margherita, grilled to perfection. Enjoy!
My morning phone calls, and sometimes Skype chats, with my parents in Rome, are part of my daily routine. I cherish them and long for them, that string to my Italian life. My mother updates me with the weather, the cats, how everybody's doing, what they're cooking. In the last calls it has mostly been about the garden harvest, abundant and flavorful this summer, how they are giving away some produce to family and friends, freezing some vegetables, canning the tomatoes and my dad's jam massive production.
In one of the calls she was recalling that the last time they had homemade pizza was when I was there, and that was in April, before I left to come back to Canada. She said that without me making it for them and the whole family being together to eat it, it wasn't the same. "When you come back, we'll make it again", she stated. I always feel my heart in a melancholy clench when she says things like that, but I guess, it won't be that long that we're back, in September Loreto and I will be there the whole month! As for us, I told her that we make pizza quite often and that did not come as a surprise to her, since my love for pizza is widespread, but I told her that we are mostly making pizza on the barbecue. That was received with bewilderment: pizza on the BBQ? Yes, my family in Italy never had a BBQ pizza 😉 . Barbecues aren't that popular, and BBQ pizza not a priority. The oven is good enough, and nobody's scared to turn it on even on hot days, and for the more fortunate, there is the wood fire oven, the dream of every pizza "monster" like Loreto and I. One day...
Let's get this BBQ Pizza Party started!
I've always loved having my hands in the dough, making pizza, bread, pasta or pastry dough. It reminds me of my nonna (grandma), my inspiration. The feeling of transforming a mass of flour and water, mostly, in a smooth and elastic ball of dough is stimulating, and when I see it rise beautifully and double, triple, up in size, I know we're up for a good treat: the pizza is going to be light and airy, is going to cook evenly on the BBQ, developing a nice crust and some nice char.
The secret to a good dough is the love and strength you put in the kneading: work it, work it, work it, this is my suggestion, it has to feel velvety and uniform under your hands. You can shape into one ball and then divide the pieces once the dough has risen, or you can partition it into the number of pizze (plural, italian, for pizza) you are going to make. This recipe makes 4 individual pizze or 2 bigger, oval ones. We wanted to make an oval pizza, this time, to kind of reproduce the pizza alla pala we have in Rome (pizza on the "paddle," the oval Roman pizza).
Making the pizza on the BBQ is a little different than baking it in the oven, you can't put the topping on the pizza right away. This is what you need to do: spread the dough out into a nice oval (or round) shape, place a little cornmeal on the paddle along with the dough, this enables the pizza to slide off the paddle easily, place it on the hot BBQ and cook it until some grill marks appear, together with some air bubbles, and the dough becomes a nice golden color. Flip the dough over and place it on indirect heat on the grill. The next steps are easy, just place your favorite toppings on the pizza and close the lid keeping a close eye for that melting cheese look. Take off the grill and you're ready to cut and eat.
The crust is crispy and with a slightly smoky flavor, the closest you'll get to that wood-fired pizza. The sauce for the Margherita, a rich tomato sauce with hints of basil, oregano and olive oil, make it a great combination with the texture of the crust. The pièce de resistance, the melted mozzarella, not overbearing, a humble topping to meld all the flavors together.
Buon appetito! Enjoy your BBQ Pizza Margherita.