Pizza Pie

Pizza… the story of pizza begins in various countries around the world in the form of flat bread. Each geographical location embraced its own version of flat bread using grains and cooking methods suitable to their culture and region. These original breads allowed for a quick and easy source of nourishment. Now imagine the genius leap of faith from flat bread to pizza that a Neapolitan pizza maker by the name of Raffaele Esposito took in June of 1889. The story goes that he created a pizza in honour of the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. A pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, to represent the colors of the Italian flag – this is known today as the Margherita pizza. It seems to me that once again some of the greatest food arises from humble beginnings and pure necessity.

When considering any one topic of food the usual expanse of possibilities arises. It could be said that since our Italian friend Raffaele made the decision to top humble focaccia bread with simple toppings that pizza has since become limitless. This concept has been reinvented around the world, from Chicago’s deep dish version to Japan’s Okonomiyaki and every other location around the world putting their own spin on things. In this country, we all have some kind of connection to pizza. Whether it’s the special (or not) touch our mother would put on a simple pie at home or a birthday party at the local pizza joint. There is a good chance that we all have a personal memory of pizza growing up.

We have come a long ways from the pizza from our childhood. The market of commercially made pizza is likely one of the most competitive out there. Choosing pizza delivery can be over-whelming without some kind of guidance. I have opted more often than not to make our own at home rather than spin the wheel of good versus bad take out. And since pizza is hands down the most requested meal in our household by me and my teenage daughters, we now have it down to a science. This unique method of grilling pizza on the BBQ I have shared far and wide. It never fails to impress and is always catching people by surprise. I enjoy the scepticism that people often have equally as much as the sheer amazement that follows. In theory, this method of cooking pizza should not work. The first time I made this I was full of doubt. Would placing raw dough directly onto the hot grate of my bbq work? The answer is it works beautifully! This method, topped with just a few flavourful ingredients, yields a crispy light textured chewy crust with a hint of char that is reminiscent of pizza done in a forno oven.

Start by organizing your dough. Usually 1 lb of dough will do for four or more pizzas. If convenience is appealing to you then consider purchasing frozen pizza or bread dough available at most grocery stores. Divide your dough into 4 balls, coat well with olive oil and cover with plastic and let rise at room temperature for 60 minutes. The dough should begin to rise and double in volume. While this is happening, preheat your bbq on the high setting and clean your grill. When you are ready to eat, have your toppings organized. Stretch each ball

of dough gently by hand into the desired approximate circle shape. Place each raw circle of dough on the hot grill, turn to medium and close the lid. This next part goes quick! In approximately three to four minutes, the dough should be puffy and slightly charred with nice rill marks on the underside. Flip each pizza dough over and quickly top with the chosen ingredients. Close the lid and continue to cook for another four to five minutes. Serve cut into random slices directly from the grill and be ready to look like a super star.

As previously mentioned, the sky is the limit with pizza topping combinations. Keep it relatively simple here by choosing one or two ingredients from three different categories. The first category is something I call the smoky and salty category. Cured, smoked meats like prosciutto, bacon, pepperoni or smoked trout give you great bang for your buck add that hit of umami. Follow that with some fresh ingredients to balance the salt like fresh pear, cherry tomatoes, roasted beets or fresh basil or arugula. And then choose a cheese to bring this all together. Again, gentle consideration of how this flavour combination will work helps. A creamy chevre’, brie or fresh mozzarella work well with saltier items from the previous category and consider a rich blue like Saint Agur that pairs really well with sweeter ingredients like fresh pear. The good news is that nothing can really go wrong here. It always turns out well.

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