Have you ever made pizza? Grilled pizza can surprisingly come out with a crispier base. The cooking environment results in toppings melted perfectly due to its high heat. Making great pizza is not as difficult as you have been led to believe. All you need is a pizza stone of good quality, add to that a little practice and you are good to go. Soon, you will be munching grilled home pizza seven nights a week if you like.
You may want to know why grilling pizza with pizza stones is much talked about. It is because high quality stones that are used to cook grilled pizza are without a doubt the surest way to cook your home variant. Whenever you think of why wood-fired restaurant pizza is of such great quality, remember it all has to do with the professional ovens used to make them.
Those ovens are far much hotter than the ordinary home ovens. Your grill, therefore, being able to achieve higher temperatures beyond the regular ovens you have at home can also help you end up with very authentic pizza. The good thing is that you can achieve this quality without leaving your house.
Whenever authentic pizza has to be made on the barbeque, it comes down to cooking it with the traditional option. What do we mean by the traditional option? Simple! Do not pre-cook the base of both sides of your grill beforehand. Rather, all you need to do is prepare the dough, get it rolled out, go ahead to top it, after which you put it on the stone for grilling.
To achieve this, a very high quality stone is necessary. Using one, with the proper temperature for the surrounding air and for cooking of the surface, will get your dough evenly cooked.
From Hot-Stone Cooking to Pizza Stones
In case you are lost on what a pizza stone is, it is simply a baking stone used to cook pizza. Baking stones are portable cooking surfaces meant for baking. They could be made of stone or ceramic and of recent, of salt. Food is placed upon the stone slab which is now placed inside an oven. In some instances, the slab is first heated.
Baking stones look like baking tray/cookie sheet in appearance but are able to absorb more moisture which results in crispier foods. Foods prepared with them hardly get burnt due to their being poor conductors of heat and added to their thermal mass. This is truer when you compare with glass or metal baking wares. Always remember that cooking with these baking slabs is simply a variant of hot-stone cooking, which makes it a very old cooking technique. You may read more on baking stones here.
When this ancient cooking method is modified to specially cook pizza, it becomes known as a pizza stone. The idea is to mimic cooking your pizza with masonry ovens. These slabs are porous in nature, and it is believed that this property makes them good at absorbing moisture which results in a crispier output.
There are options of various sizes that can fit all sorts of conventional ovens or enclosed grills for a barbeque. Some high-end ovens come with stones designed specifically for the oven model. At times, they include unique heating elements. Apart from the traditional materials used to make baking stones, pizza alternatives can be made of cast iron, clay, and cordierite.
Let's Go Back to Cooking Pizza on a Grill Stone
Have you tried cooking pizza directly? That is, just above the heat source of your grill? You most likely ended up with burnt crust and raw toppings. A pizza stone is meant to shield your dough from the extreme heat from the grill. Having it placed directly upon the slab eliminates the need for extreme alternatives to building heat zones or heat shields.
The Gas Grill Option
A gas grill is usually the preferred option, because it is by and large the easiest alternative when combined with a grill stone. The even heat distribution it gives removes a great challenge.
All you need to do to use is to turn on all burners for pre-heating. Place your slab upon the grates while the burners are at medium to high; that is, a temperature of about 500 to 600. Much will depend on the chef with regards to temperatures for heating.
Some chefs prefer grilling with temperatures well above the 425 that is usually used for oven-baked pizza. Allow the grill to heat while covered and with your slab inside. This aids your barbeque pizza slab to get nicely hot. The grill will be super-hot at about when the temperature reading would register 500.
After about ten minutes, take off the lid. Place dough of about 8-oz and stretch over the slab in an oval shape upwards to 12”–14”. Put the toppings and use some olive oil for brushing the crust. Go ahead to place back the cover, but leaving vents open. Cook till the crust’s underside is brown and the cheese bubbling. Fast cooking is great; it can lead to great textures and tastes.
Do not forget to check your cooking often, because with this kind of high temperature it can cook just within minutes (about 7 to 9 minutes). Using a large pair of metal spatulas, you should transfer your cooking to a board. Allow it to cool for some minutes. It is now ready for slicing and sharing.
The Charcoal Grill Option
This option comes with a setup that is a bit different, but basically the same method. As soon as you get your charcoal hot, spread out the coal around like a ring using the grill’s perimeter as a guide. Then put your grate in place. With the coals glowing after flaming a while, put the slab upon the grate. Remember to cover it. The next step is to preheat to 500° which should be attained in about 20 minutes.
Deciding on an Ideal Temperature
There is no standard temperature for cooking. Some things that will determine the temperature ideal for your cooking are:
- Type of grill
- Its size
- Air space beneath the hood
- The day’s temperature
- Your stone
- Your toppings and base
Practice is what you need to find the perfect heat level. However, like has been said, heating up to 500-600°F is a good point to start from. Do not forget to heat your grill pizza stone while preheating your barbeque. The crust may cook too quickly. If this happens, simply reduce the temperature a bit next time. This will make the toppings heat up and cook while keeping the base from burning.
Using a superior stone meant for grilling pizza does a number of things. Not only does it keep your toppings from getting burnt from the intense heat required for grilling, but it also helps to see that the crust does not end up soggy but crispy. Remember the chef’s trick of starting off with a thinner layer of crust that cooks through quickly.
Do not forget to use pre-cooked ingredients to save you from long periods of waiting for meats and other raw foods to cook. Having done all these, you are on your way to a pleasant cooking with well-melted cheese, hot toppings, and your charred dough just good to go.