As we sat in the grass biting into our hot-off-the-grill personal pizzas and looked out over the lake at the Chicago skyline, Andrew commented, “Why isn’t this a Chicago tradition? I mean, it has all these Chicago elements: pizza, the lake, summer grilling in the park…” I had no explanation. I couldn’t stop thinking about or congratulating myself for the chewy and crispy crust I was indulging in…or the fresh and delicious ingredients topping it.
I had a bunch of leftover items in the fridge and pantry that I considered throwing into a pasta: green garlic (I’d already roasted it), garlic scapes, bacon, half a tomato, and tarragon. When I saw how hot it would be yesterday, I immediately came up with an alternative that didn’t involve turning on the stove at 6 p.m., the time of day when our kitchen gets the hottest. So I began making a pizza dough and throwing ingredients into Gladware, then into a picnic basket, along with olive oil, salt and pepper, napkins, a plastic cutting board and a spatula, all with the intention of finally giving grilled pizza a try.
I wasn’t sure how it would work. I was slightly worried about the dough falling through the grill’s grates so I brought some aluminum foil just in case. My worry turned to joy and surprise when I learned that a hot grill begins cooking the crust so fast that it doesn’t have time to slip through! Also, this is why you get both the chewiness and gorgeous grilled-crunchiness.
Rather than wax on about how perfect these pizzas were (and only got better as we cooked more) and how there’s no need to go spend $13 on one tiny pizza at any of the trendy pizza spots and how I want to do this at least three times a week for the rest of summer experimenting with toppings, I’ll simply tell you the following:
• Get your toppings ready, i.e. pre-cook them if necessary and prepare them for travel if you are not fortunate enough to have your own outdoor space.*
• Start the grill, keeping the coals somewhat close to the top.
• Once the goals are good and hot and you have a medium to high heat, brush the grate with olive oil and throw on the dough (which, presumably, you’ve shaped and allowed to rest for 10 minutes).
• Turn the dough after a minute or two and put on your toppings (I start with a drizzle of olive oil, always).
• If you’re using cheese, cover the grill for a minute to get the cheese to melt.
• Remove pizza before it gets too charred (some charred spots are good though).