It’s June, school’s out, and summer has begun. It’s time for slip-and-slides, pond fishing, and, of course, grilling in the backyard. But let’s twist that around as only we can in the Chef’s Corner. How about grilled pizza? Having traveled around the country, author and chef Craig Priebe catalogued many of the unique styles of pizza our country has to offer in The United States of Pizza, but his first book, Grilled Pizzas & Piadinas, specifically covered two American favorites: pizzas and grills. For this month’s Chef’s Corner, Craig was kind enough to give us one of his favorite recipes. With a light and airy crust, flavorful pesto and succulent shrimp, the Gamberian is sure to be the star of the backyard BBQ bash this summer.
- 1 grilled pizza crust (see pg. 18)
- ½ c. chunky tomato basil sauce (see pg. 18)
- 2 tbsp. herbed grill oil (see pg. 18)
- ½ c. basil pecan pesto
- ¼ c. thinly sliced sun-dried tomatoes
- 1 tbsp. grated Parmesan
- ½ lb. jumbo shrimp, shelled and deveined
- ½ c. thinly sliced red onions
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tsp. capers
- 1 c. shredded mozzarella
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 2 tbsp. fresh basil leaves, torn
- ¼ tsp. cracked black pepper
Basic Grilled Pizza Dough (yields 4 – 12” pizzas)
- 3 c. unbleached flour
- 3 tsp. (2 packets) active dry yeast
- 1 c. warm water
- ½ tsp. sugar
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- ¼ c. fine ground white cornmeal
- 1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
Dissolve yeast in warm water with sugar. Place flour in mixing bowl and stir in salt and cornmeal. Add water and oil and stir until dough stiffens. When dough is nice and smooth, place in an oiled bowl and cover with a piece of plastic wrap. Lightly brush dough with olive oil to keep from drying out. Let dough rise for an hour at room temperature. Punch it down and refrigerate overnight. Cut into dough balls the next day.
Chunky Tomato Basil Sauce
- 3 lb. fresh vine-ripe tomatoes (about 4 large tomatoes)
- ½ c. packed, chopped fresh basil (large stems removed)
- 3 large cloves fresh garlic
- ½ c. tomato paste
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- 2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tsp. sugar
Chop all ingredients finely and mix in a food processor. Do not puree the sauce; leave some chunks, but mix it thoroughly.
Herbed Grill Oil (yields ½ c.)
- ½ c. EVOO
- 1 small clove of garlic, minced
- ½ tsp. dried oregano
- ½ tsp. dried thyme
- ½ tsp. dried basil
Grilling your pie:
Heat your coals to about 400˚ to 500˚. Push them to one side to allow a cooler spot for cooking if needed or a hot area to finish the pie. If using a gas grill, heat it to 400˚. An important difference in grilling your finished pizza is to move your coals to one side of the grill. You will grill the pizza with an indirect heat, instead of directly above the hot coals.
Brush the grilled side of the pizza crust with 1 tbsp. of the herbed grill oil. Dust with the Parmesan. Heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a sauté pan over medium heat. Sauté the shrimp until opaque and pink, about 1 ½ minutes. Season to taste.
Top the crust with the mozzarella. Spoon the chunky tomato basil sauce and the basil pecan pesto on top, creating an alternating pattern of red and green. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, shrimp, red onions, capers and garlic.
Position pizza alongside the grilling surface. Carefully slide pizza off the tray, using tongs to guide pizza onto the grill. Place pizza to the side of the hot coals, not over the coals.
Place lid over the grill to heat the toppings while the pizza cooks. If your pizza is not overloaded with toppings, the toppings should be hot when the crust is done. Check after 1 minute. If the pizza is darkening quickly, the fire is too hot. Browning should occur in about 3 to 5 minutes. Turn your pizza 180˚ during the grilling to get an even doneness. For a crispier crust, slide it directly over the fire for a brief moment (but it will burn if left over the fire too long).
Remove from grill and add garnishes.
Brush your 14” crust with an EVOO base. Top with shredded and fresh mozzarella. Add arugula, tart cherries and dollops of fig jam preserves. Bake at 575° for 7 to 10 minutes, or until crust is brown.
After the bake, add slices of prosciutto and sprinkle with shredded Parmesan. Finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. Slice and enjoy!