Traditional pizza is the sort of thing that takes well to high heat. So, it’s no wonder that an increasing number of people are bringing fresh dough pizza to their grill.
While you can indeed slap the dough down on the flame and grill it like a flatbread, the process is fraught with complications. There’s a lot of fancy flipping, oiling and special dough recipes involved. If anyone of them goes wrong, you could be left with one heck of a messy grill.
Grill Accessories for Pizza
The best way to make a grilled pizza that won’t leave you with a burned mess is to take advantage of accessories that are already available on the market.
At first glance, a pizza stone might just seem like a flat rock. Yet you might be surprised to hear that there is actually a lot of variation in pizza stones. Some are made from higher quality materials than others.
With any pizza stone, you want to give it sufficient time to absorb heat. In some cases, a half-hour at full-flame is needed to bring a large, thick stone up to full heat. If you rush or skip the preheating stage you will end up with burned toppings and a soggy center crust.
Stone or Clay Pizza Stones tend to draw moisture out of the pizza dough which helps them develop a flavorful crust. Lightly dusting them with a little cornmeal before laying the pizza down will help keep it from sticking.
Ceramic Pizza Stones are very similar to stone and clay. They transmit heat very well but don’t tend to draw out any moisture. They also stick less to the dough. Still, you should give them a light dusting of cornmeal or a quick, light glaze of olive oil, before laying down the fresh dough pizza.
Both stone, clay, and ceramic pizza stones are also vulnerable to thermal shock. If something cold is spilled on them when hot, they can crack catastrophically. They also tend to wear out over time with frequent heating and cooling sessions.
Cordierite Pizza Stones are relatively new on the scene. This special type of man-made stone has all the beneficial properties of a clay or natural stone pizza stone, yet it is much less resistant to thermal and physical shock.
Cast Iron pans and griddles do have a place when it comes to making pizza on the grill. The iron tends to absorb and redirect heat effectively. Cast iron tends to heat up faster than its stone counterparts. It tends to be a better option if you are thinking about making a “Chicago Style” pizza.
Pizza peels are very handy when it comes to making a pizza on the grill. In its simplest form, it’s little more than a handle with a flat wood or metal surface on one end. It allows you to roll out your dough and dress your pizza.
When you are ready, and the pizza stone is good and hot, you carefully slide the dough from the portable peel to the grill. When the pizza is done you slide it back onto the peel, which you can use to transport it to the cutting board, or simply cut it on the peel.
Which Is Better A Wood Or Metal Pizza Peel?
When it comes to transferring the pizza to and from the grill, wood vs metal is largely a matter of personal preference. However, there are a few minor technical differences.
People who prefer wood claim that it’s more traditional and that when properly floured, or dressed with cornmeal, it’s easier to slide. The downside of a wood peel is that they tend to be thicker than metal, which can make it a little awkward to slide the finished pizza back onto the peel.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that you can cut the pizza directly on the wood peel. Yet if you do this a lot, or you press down hard cutting through the crust it could start to mark the wood making it a little bit harder to smoothly slide the fresh dough in the future.
Metal pizza peels tend to be thinner than wood peels, and you can cut on them without worrying about damaging the surface. However, they sometimes don’t slide fresh dough as easy. You may need to be excessive with the cornmeal of flour when you dress the fresh dough pizza.
Should I Use Two Peels?
If you walk into a high-end pizza restaurant in Italy, you will find many of them use two peels. One has a tea towel or starched towel attached to it. When the pizza is pulled out of the oven, it’s transferred to the peel with the towel and then turned 90-degrees. This helps clean any burned bits off the bottom of the pizza before it is transferred to the cutting board.
Brushes play a variety of roles in making pizza on the grill. The first is your grill brush. If you intend to make a pizza directly over the heat, you want to make sure that you have thoroughly scraped down the grates.
A nylon-bristled brush is very helpful for oiling up the dough for pizzas and flatbreads that need to be flipped. If you are grilling dough over the direct flame and you don’t thoroughly oil it first, it will likely stick and might even rip when you try to move it.
A silicone basting brush is ideal for oiling dough for pizza grilled directly over the fire. It’s also handy for painting the outer crust with garlic butter. The nice thing about silicone is that it’s dishwasher safe, meaning it’s less likely to transfer bacteria like nylon or horse hair brushes.
While purists claim that brick, wood fire or coal fire ovens are the pinnacle of the grilled pizza process, there are still many grill manufacturers who sell special accessories for ordinary backyard grills.
Some charcoal grill manufacturers offer a special insert for a kettle grill. You simply place it on the lip of the kettle’s fire bowl, then put the lid on top. Then a special pizza stone is placed on the grill grates. The insert has a small slot in it where you can slide the pizza to place it on the stone.
The heat in the fire bowl essentially swirls around the lid. The preheated pizza stone essentially bakes the bottom of the crust, while the swirling heat melts and cooks the top.
Most infrared pizzas use propane, though there are a few that use natural gas. The heat from the infrared element is intense. A special cordite pizza stone is placed in line with the infrared element. When preheated, you place the pizza dough down and then turn the infrared element off. The ambient heat should cook the pizza through, without burning the bottom of the crust.
Most kamado grills are smaller than their kettle counterparts. They are thermally efficient, and many are capable of high heat up to 500 or 600 degrees. Some come with a special heat deflector plate that when preheated acts very much like a pizza stone