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Perfect Pizza

Are you like me & love authentic Italian wood-fired pizzas? Do you also try to replicate it at home with little success? Traditional ovens just don’t get hot enough so you need to use a bbq.  This is a technique shown to me by my friend Andrew & it has changed my home pizza experience.

The trick is to cook one side of the crust first & then put the toppings on while the other side of the dough finishes cooking. The result will be a crust that is crunchy with a chewy inside with nice smoky, charred bits. Fantastic!

Italian pizzas differ greatly from the American style mainly in the toppings department. This style of pizza works best if you keep to minimal ingredients or you’ll have a burnt crust & raw toppings. Minimal doesn’t have to mean boring.   Here is a great dough recipe and some of my favourite toppings.

Pizza Dough
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 1/3 cup tepid water
5 cups bread flour
2 teaspoon salt
Tomato Sauce
2 x 28 oz (796 ml) cans of whole tomatoes
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon salt
fresh basil leaves
2 x large fresh mozzarella balls, torn & drained
16 slices prosciutto (optional)
shaved fresh Parmesan

Combine all the ingredients for the dough & knead for 8-10 mins until it is smooth & elastic.  Place dough in oiled bowl, cover in plastic wrap & leave in fridge overnight.  If you don’t have time then just leave to rise in a warm place till dough has doubled.

Pre-heat bbq on high.  Roll out dough on a floured surface & scatter some cornmeal on one side.  Place dough directly on grills without toppings.  It will take about 2 mins to cook the first side.  Flip dough over, spoon desired amount of sauce & top with mozzarella & basil.  Pizza will be done when the bottom side is golden & the cheese is bubbling.  Cut pizza in 8’s & top with torn prosciutto & fresh shaved Parmesan.

Other favourite toppings:
* Caramelized onion & goat”s cheese – Saute 4-5 medium onions on low heat for 20 mins until nice & brown.  Top pizza with onion mixture once the one side of the dough has cooked & top with 1/2 cup crumbled goat’s cheese or more!  You can also add chopped, fresh thyme & pepper.
* Ham & chanterelle mushrooms – Saute 3 handfuls of torn chanterelles with 1 small clove of garlic & a pinch of salt for 2 mins.  Cook pizza as instructed above, top with tomato sauce, 100g or 8-10 slices of good Italian ham, 1/2 cup cubed emmenthal cheese and the chanterelles.
* Fennel, salami & olives – Slice 1 fennel bulb thinly & saute in a little oil & a pinch of salt until browned & soft.  Cook pizza on bbq as instructed above, top with tomato sauce & layer 10 or more slices of salami ( sopressata, fennel salami, calabrese, genoa) then layer fennel & a handful of chopped olives.  Spread 1/2 cup cubed pizza mozzarella.
* Kale, onions, oregano, garlic, smoked mozzarella – Saute or steam 1 bunch of green or black kale until tender.  Drain all the water out.  Saute 1/2 onion with a pinch of fresh or dried oregano & 1 garlic clove diced until slightly browned.  Cook pizza on bbq as instructed above, top with tomato sauce & layer with onion mixture, kale & 1/2 cup cubed smoked mozzarella (you can use regular mozzarella if you can’t get your hands on smoked)
* Sausage, peppers, feta, basil – Take the meat out of the casing of 2 sausages & saute for a few minutes.  Slice 1/2 a yellow, orange & red pepper & saute until soft on med-low heat.  Cook pizza on bbq as instructed above, top with tomato sauce, sprinkle cooked sausage meat, peppers & a handful of fresh basil.  top with 1/2 cup of feta.  (Optional- Sprinkle dried fennel seeds)

Let your imagination go wild with the toppings.  Just try to keep it to minimum so the flavours are balanced.  There are so many flavour combinations so just experiment.

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