Right before we left for our vacation — somewhere cool, both literally and figuratively, of course — we whipped up these little pizzettas for dinner. We happen to love them, and think that this is one of the best ways to make what are, in essence, small pizzas. Just place them directly on the grill, cover, and grill until the cheese melts and the crust bakes. Plus, it takes just a few minutes for each pizzetta to cook up.
I guess we first got this idea from reading about the FrankenWeber (oh, you have a search engine too, so, no, we’re not providing a link), a modified version of a basic Weber grill, modified with baking pizzas in mind. We figured, why not try our grill just as it is? And we did, and the pizzetta was born. Now, we have no idea if this would work on a gas grill, as we’ve never used one (come on, what did you expect?), and, for these, we build a really hot mesquite wood fire. We have mesquite trees from which we have to remove deadwood from time to time.
Now, there’s really no recipe, other than we use some of the dough from our basic bread recipe for the pizza dough and a simple sauce such as a hand-crushed marinara sauce. Toppings, of course, are up to you. Without a recipe, we’ll just give you a few basic instructions.
Mise en place. We find it easiest to add toppings right before we pop the pizzettas on the grill, so we get everything ready. Cheese chopped into chunks (easier than grated cheese), slices of whatever veggies you might want. Get the sauce ready. Finally, but perhaps most important, shape the dough into small, say, 6-inch, rounds and place them on an oiled baking sheet. Cover the dough rounds with a clean towel so they won’t dry out.
Build a fire. If you’ve read Jack London’s story, you know how critical this is, so make it a good one. We use mesquite wood so it’ll be nice and hot, then we push all the coals over to one side of he grill, so our pizzettas bake by indirect heat. They get too crispy if set over the coals. We’ve thought about the idea of placing a fireproof stone over half of the grill, but we’ve never tried it.
Top and grill. We do two pizzettas at a time. We remove the grill and bring it near the pizzetta making station (the table), spoon on just a little sauce, and add a bit of each topping. It’s easy to go overboard here, but don’t do it. You’ll need to pick these up and set them on the grill (possibly hot from sitting over the fire), so a word to the wise. Place them on the grill, then place the grill over the fire, making sure the pizzettas are not directly over the coals. Place the lid on the grill. They’ll bake in about 5 minutes, but check them often, as they can burn faster than you can say “Jimminy Cricket”.
Enjoy. Use a long-handled spatula (hot, remember?), to pop them off the grill and onto plates.
We love cooking pizzettas this way. They get a slightly smoky taste, the crust gets super crisp and tasty, and the sauce cooks right in place. It’s tricky to get the fire just right (too hot = burned, too cool == undercooked), but it’s worth trying. The only thing we don’t enjoy is getting that hot fire started when it’s over 100°F. Of course, once winter hits…. Fives!