You read that right! A 4th of July Grilled PIZZA PARTY! Most people that I “tested” the idea on were very intrigued. A few…not so much. They said it was because it wasn’t “traditional.” So I thought let’s take the “All-American” cookout foods and put them on a pizza crust! Same toppings, just a different mode of transportation! The BEST part is this will suit almost any guest at your party! I am expecting vegetarians, people eating gluten free, and just plain dieting for that summer swimsuit! PLUS this will SAVE YOU MONEY!! Think about it: Let’s say you are planning a 4th cookout for a dozen people. That’s a lot of hamburgers and hot dogs! Now think about taking those hamburgers (hot dogs…probably not so much) crumbled up and tossed on a pizza. You will need SO MUCH LESS ground beef!!! For a traditional cookout for 12, you would probably buy about 4 pounds of ground beef. This way, MAYBE 2 pounds! Maybe!
Above is a shot of a small “trial run” I did with a small group of friends and family. We tried a scaled back version, and man was it DELICIOUS! Grilled may be the BEST way to have pizza… First things first: DECIDE ON THE TYPES OF PIZZA YOU WANT TO OFFER. Basically what this means is pick a couple of different “styles” of pizza, then your guests can mix and match what THEY want of the pizza from there. If you just try to come up with toppings you’ll spend SO much more money because the possibilities are ENDLESS! Here is my menu:
- Cheeseburger Pizza
- BBQ Chicken with Caramelized Onions
- Traditional Pepperoni
FIRST: The Dough
You can use something pre-made like Boboli brand crusts, or any other kind of flat bread, naan or the like. But I don’t recommend it. It may be easier, but 1. it is more expensive. And 2. you won’t get the same grilled flavor as actually cooking pizza dough on the grill! I think that is what makes it SO GOOD! You could also make your own. If you have the time and patience, be my guest. But for me, I’ll take the pre-made dough! For my test I purchased frozen pizza dough found in the frozen bread section. (Believe me, if my POS store has it, yours does!) If you have a bakery near by, you can buy it fresh too. **NOTE: If you buy the frozen dough BE SURE to read the instructions for thawing and proofing a few days in advance! If the dough does not fully rise, you will be left with tough dough that will be hard to shape! Always err on extra time, as I don’t think you can let it rise too long. (I could be wrong, but I don’t think so) Since I still plan to have traditional sides, I will make the dough about 4-6″ in diameter. This will allow guests to try different kinds if they want, plus be easier to handle. Also great if there are to be kids there! 🙂
Okay, here is a dark secret: I HAD NEVER PROOFED OR SHAPED PIZZA DOUGH BEFORE! I tell you this because it was SO easy! After the first 1 or 2, I had the hang of it. First I tried to press it into shape, that didn’t work as well as I’d hoped (I don’t know if the dough was fully proofed though!). Then I tried a rolling pin, this worked, but I finally went the hold with 2 hands at the top and let it hang and stretch into position and keep it moving in a circle! By far the best method for me! Just make sure you LIGHTLY flour everything! (Too much flour will also make the dough tough) The package I bought had 2 frozen balls of pizza dough in it, about the size of softballs when frozen. I was testing with 4 people, and as you’ll see later, I ended up making them a lot bigger than they needed to be! So with that amount of pizza dough, I could easily make a dozen or so at 4-6″. Oh, and did I mention this package of dough was UNDER $3! Yep! Trying getting a dozen buns for that!
Time to preheat the grill! I let it preheat for about 5 minutes, then use the grill brush to clean the grates really well. Depending on how experienced you are with shaping dough, will depend how early you want to start shaping your soon-to-be-crusts. TIP: You will want to drizzle and spread a little oil on each side of the dough for the grill, so you can go ahead and do this as you shape, then stack them with wax paper to separate. Grilling the dough: You have TWO OPTIONS here:
- Grill the dough once your guests have arrived. You will grill one side first, then have your guests top AS SOON AS IT IS FLIPPED. (TIP: for either option, I recommend grilling LOW! This does not take long! A couple of minutes each side TOPS; just until golden brown.) This option is a little tough, and time sensitive. So I recommend:
- Grill BEFORE your guests get there! You will grill one side fully, then, depending on the doneness of the second side, don’t grill it at all or VERY LIGHTLY! (It will finish cooking later!) When your guests arrive and are ready to eat they just grab a crust, top the DARKER side, and put it back on the grill to basically melt the cheese. (Close the lid to help the melting process and not burn your crust!) I like this option, because the crusts can cool completely while you are prepping/cooking your toppings since you’ll want to do this closer to your guest’s arrival.
NEXT: The Toppings
You’ll want to prep as much as you can on the grill, and do it before guests arrive. To keep everyone happy, make sure when you are grilling your veggies to keep them in their own foil “bowls” so that they don’t come in contact with meat. And, yes, I recommend making sure the items you want “cooked” are done so before hand since it takes longer to cook toppings than the crust itself. Clearly, the meat you would want to be sure was prepared before hand anyway. 🙂 For things like green peppers, mushrooms, etc. I used the foil and a tiny drizzle of oil so they didn’t burn. Give them a toss here and there and that’s it! (TIP: Unless you are going to move to individual bowls, I recommend leaving them in these foil bowls for your guests! That way vegetarians will feel better seeing that, that was probably how they were on the grill. No explanation needed!) Okay, now on to the good stuff!
Cheeseburger PizzaGround Beef, browned indoors in a pan with salt, pepper (or steak seasoning) and worcestershire sauce (About 1/2 lb per 6 people. REALLY!) Shredded Cheddar Cheese (fresh is best! …and cheaper! For the kids, maybe cut small squares of American Cheese since we are mimicking a cheeseburger after all!) Caramelized Onions Cherry/Grape Tomatoes, halved (can be put of before or after cooking) Traditional Pizza Sauce Shredded Iceberg Lettuce (to be added AFTER cooking! 🙂 ) TIP: Here’s a BIGGIE! Buy a head of iceberg (cheap!) plus save some for “cups” for your gluten free peeps!
BBQ Chicken with Caramelized OnionsThinly sliced chicken (breasts or thighs, your choice!) Of course grilled ahead, brushing both sides with your favorite BBQ sauce (Didn’t test this one, but still going with 1/2 lb per 6 people) Caramelized Onions Grilled corn, lightly brush with oil or melted butter (TIP: I also sprinkle in a little kosher salt before brushing on butter!). Grill all sides to get a little color, then cut from cob BBQ Sauce, to use in place of traditional pizza sauce! Shredded Mozzarella or Provolone Cheese
Traditional PepperoniPepperoni Green Peppers Mushrooms Anything else you would put on your pizza! 🙂 Traditional Pizza Sauce (or white/Alfredo sauce) Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
For the caramelized onions: Know that these cook down A LOT! So depending on your crowd do 1/2 -1 large, sweet onion per 6 people. Cut into “rings,” so just straight slices, about 1/4″ thick. These will have to be done inside (as far as I know) low and slow on the stove top. Takes about 30 minutes. Separate the rings out when you drop them in the pan (I used a ceramic, non-stick pan). I splashed a little balsamic vinegar and lidded the pan to help the process along. But you could also use a little butter or oil. Check them every 5 minutes or so to make sure they are not burning! Now look at all of the topping options people have to mix and match to make their very own creation! Make a little topping bar for your guests to top their pizza crusts when they are ready to eat!THAT’S IT! The beauty is, all your work is done BEFORE the guests arrive so that you can actually spend time with them! Imagine that! Grab your plate and a cocktail and YOU’RE DONE!