Peter Reinhart’s book, American Pie, provided the theoretical background for this pizza. Reinhart takes you on a tour across Italy and US looking at different approaches to pizza. You should get this book if you’re serious about making your own pizza.
I had Grimaldi’s Pizza in Brooklyn last winter and came away determined to learn more about making simple but delicious pizza. This recipe is based on his “Neo-neapolitan” pizza, which he says is close to what Grimaldi’s (and other New York/New Haven) Pizzeria’s dough is like.
I like this pizza as much as most any I’ve ever had. I’d never say it’s as good as Grimaldi’s, but for Lawrence, Kansas, it’s potentially as close as you can get.
I upsized Reinhart’s recipe by 50%, so I could make 6 dough balls instead of 4. Our family can eat 3 pies at a time, so the 6 ball recipe works well for us.
I developed this cooking technique for the summer, when it seems crazy to heat up the house with the oven. I bake in the grill a lot: bread, cobbler, pizza. If you can do it in a conventional oven, you can probably do it in a gas grill with enough practice.
- 34 oz. bread flour, (7.5 cups)
- 1.5 tbsp honey
- 5 tsp kosher salt
- 1.5 tsp instant yeast
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 ¾ cups water, room temp.
- fresh mozzarella
- sliced tomatoes
- fresh basil leaves
- (see UPDATES, below.
- TOMATO SAUCE
- 28 oz. crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 5 cloves pressed garlic
- 2 tbsp wine vinegar
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- black pepper
MAKING THE DOUGH
This recipe assumes you’re using a stand mixer. Modify accordingly if you’re working by hand.
Peter Reinhart’s theory behind this dough is that it tastes better the next day, so you do this a day ahead. (I’ve never cooked it same day, so I can’t say what happens if you do.)
Mix dry dough ingredients in stand mixer w/ dough hook. Slowly add olive oil, then water on low speed for about 4 minutes. Let it rest for 5 minutes, then resume mixing for 2 more minutes. This is a moist dough, and should be sticking to the bottom of the bowl, but not to the sides. If it’s not like this, add tiny amounts of water or flour as needed to get the right consistency.
As soon as it’s mixed, divide the dough into 6 even pieces and form each into a ball. Rub each ball of dough with olive oil and place each into its own zipper plastic bag. Let them sit at room temperature for 15 minutes before placing them in the refrigerator (or freezer if you’re not going to use them the next day) to age overnight.
Remove dough balls from refrigerator 2 hours prior to cooking time. After they’ve warmed up, shape them into pizza crusts, top and cook.
Mix all ingredients together over low heat. You don’t really need to cook it, just heat it through .
TOPPING THE PIES
I like the dough stretched pretty thin (maybe 1/8″ thick, tops). I suggest using whatever toppings you prefer. Reinhart promotes simple and few toppings, which I agree with, but it’s your pie, so do what makes you happy. (SEE UPDATES BELOW.)
Stretch the raw dough out and put on a peel or (rimless cookie sheet) that’s been well-dusted with cornmeal, or with a piece of parchment paper. The wet toppings can have a tendency to soak through and make the dough stick to the peel, so it’s important for you to do whatever you need to to get the topped pie off the peel and onto the stone without wrecking the pizza.
COOKING THE PIZZA ON THE GAS GRILL (my innovation)
I use a Weber gas grill, with 3 burners. I imagine almost any grill would provide adequate heat, but I’ve only ever done it on my Weber.
Place 2 pizza stones (one one top of the other) on the grate of the gas grill. (One of my pizza stones is actually a kiln shelf for a ceramic kiln.) My top stone has little feet on it, making an important air gap between it and the bottom stone. The bottom stone takes the primary heat from the direct flames below, and softens it for the top stone.
Turn the burners to high and preheat for 30 minutes. The thermometer in the lid reads about 500 degrees. The stone surface reads about 450 degrees on an infrared thermometer.
Slide the pie off the peel onto the hot stone and close the lid. I cook mine for 6 or 7 minutes usually. But different dough thicknesses and kinds of toppings can make that vary. You’ll know when it’s done.
UPDATE: Some recent pies:
Margherita: Fresh Mozzarella and Tomatoes
Bacon and Caramelized Onion, with Fresh Mozzarella and Fresh Tomatoes
Spinach, Feta and Julienned Zucchini, with Fresh Tomatoes.
Note on Fresh Tomatoes: They have a lot of water in them which can make problems with excess water on your pizza. I find it best to chop the tomatoes up 3o minutes before, salt them a bit and let them drain in a colander. The salt draws out the excess moisture. I also squeeze a garlic clove or two in as well, and let that flavor the tomatoes with the salt. Good stuff.
Some killer topping combinations that we’ve been experimenting with the past few weeks of summer (winter will bring a new round of testing, with those sorts of flavors):
Fresh tomatoes (see note above), chopped fresh spinach, feta cheese, red onions, fresh mozzarella.
Fresh tomatoes (see note above), Genoa salami, Calamata olives, pickled Hungarian (sweet) peppers, red onion, fresh mozzarella. Truly awesome!
I’m thinking that the marina sauce can be a bit too much. If you have good fresh tomatoes, I think it’s best to leave off the marinara, and use plenty of fresh tomatoes. It could be a seasonal thing– wintertime, when fresh tomatoes are scarce, might be a better bet for the marinara.