I scream, you scream, we all scream for pizza?
OK so that’s really not the correct saying but everyone loves pizza, right? It’s really a basic recipe that can be made into so many different combinations and used for a variety of meals.
Over the past couple of years, Steve and I along with our friends Robert and Don, have been trying local Milwaukee restaurants in search of our favorite pie or slice. We started by accident when Robert and Don shared their go to place for pizza at Classic Slice on Kinnickinnic. We all grabbed a different type of slice (which were huge) but I really enjoyed their use of pesto as a base instead of tomato sauce. They offer many combinations and have a nice selection of vegetarian options
Steve and I were up next and we took them to our go to place, Transfer Pizza on Mitchell Street. Steve’s friend Corey introduced him to this restaurant a number of years ago and we have been enjoying this pizza ever since. While there we had to order our favorite pies, the Paisano and S.M.O (also known as the Milwaukee).
Next, we branched out to find some new favorites and Wy’east Pizza on Vliet Street tops the list. We would try at least one unusual combination or special at each place. Even though our search came to a halt with Covid, we still wanted to continue our adventure, only this time at home.
I started searching the web for the best way to approach making pizza on the grill. Over one weekend I went down a Pinterest rabbit hole of pizza recipes …. So many different approaches, topping combinations, short cuts, and so many different ways to make the crust. And each site guaranteed to be the best approach ever!!
Should we cook the dough directly on the grill? Or use a pizza stone?
Should we cook the dough first and then add toppings? Or load it up and put it on the grill all at once?
Should we make homemade dough? Or use a pizza kit?
My head was spinning!
We decided to use a pizza stone on the grill and not precook the dough. I still want to try cooking the dough directly on the grill, but we haven’t tried that yet.
The Quest for CRUST:
All good pizza starts with the perfect crust. We prefer a thinner crust that is crispy on the outside but chewie on the inside. This was definitely a learning curve. All recipes contained basically the same ingredients (yeast, sugar, flour, kosher salt and olive oil) but each tasted a bit different and had their own distinctive vibe.
The first dough I tried only had to proof for an hour (Quick and Easy Pizza Dough). This was a good one to start with, it came together easily, wasn’t intimidating and with a quick turn around we could have it that night for dinner. I struggled getting this dough thin enough by stretching with my hands and getting the dough in a round shape as evidenced below. These pizzas turned out much thicker then I would prefer. The dough tasted good but was a bit heavier than the dough that proofs longer. Below is the outcome of our first 2 pizzas. These definitely did not look pretty but they tasted good. We made a peperoni, onion and green pepper with a traditional red sauce and tried to recreate a slice from Classic Slice (The Baconizer) which consists of sausage, mushroom and onion with a pesto sauce base.
After not having the best results, I started asking around. Luckily our neighbor, Gary, likes to make pizzas on the grill and even though they were stuck in FL we consulted him for some tips and tricks. He suggested using the pizza kit and sauce pictured below and using a rolling pin to get the dough thinner. The dough was very tasty and crispier/chewier than the first one. It was also easy to make and had a quick turn-around. The dough was much easier to stretch than the first one and Gary’s suggestion for sauce was very good! Although the outcome was a bit better, I still didn’t work it enough after proofing and the pizza was still too thick.
This time we did a traditional Milwaukee (sausage, mushrooms and onions) and a fig pizza inspired by one we had at Wy’east Pizza. Instead of a red sauce, I used a fig spread along with fresh figs, crispy prosciutto, goat cheese, fried onions and arugula. This pizza turned out really good despite the thick crust.
Third times a charm!!
Our neighbor, Mary recommended Lidia's pizza dough by Lidia Bastianich. I remember watching Lidia on her PBS show some years back and marveling over the delicious traditional Italian food. My mom and I would try her recipes and buried somewhere in our basement is one of her first cookbooks. This dough turned out very good and stretchy.
- 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for the bowl)
- 3 1/4 -3 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
The recipe recommended using an electric mixer with a dough hook. I have had this mixer for over 15 years and this was the first time I have used the dough hook so I had to take a picture of the maiden voyage.
This time I really worked the dough after proofing. I used a combination of rolling pin and hand stretching. This dough was pretty tight and required a lot of work until it finally released. The outcome was a nice thin crust which was crisp on the outside but nice and chewy on this inside. This time we did a grilled veggie pizza (with zucchini, corn, onions and basil) and a chicken sausage and mushroom pizza.
We have been having fun all summer creating new topping combinations.
When going down the Pinterest rabbit hole, I came across the sites below …..
One site that contained some really great information and ideas is Thursday Night Pizza. The site is the creation of Peggy Paul Casella who is a cookbook author and editor. Instead of a book club, Peggy does a weekly pizza club. The site is filled with seasonal recipes, pizza basics and how-to videos.
Pizza Therapy also has some interesting blog posts. The site contains his blog, tools, books, kitschy items and even a podcast.
Scotts Pizza Tours has an interesting collection of blog posts, classes and NYC pizza tours.
My pizza journey continues so please share your favorite combinations and give making pizza on the grill a try. It has been a fun adventure!!