When we get a string of 100º summer days heavy with 90% humidity and the AC is already working overtime, the last thing I ever want to do is turn on a heat-producing appliance inside my house. But, there are only so many salads and no-cook dish options that my family and I can stand before I need to use some heat to cook something. I mean, I just can’t get my 3-year-old to throw down on ceviche or tartare. Go figure.
Enter the grill.
My sense is that a lot of people only use their grill as a source of direct heat for searing and cooking pieces of meat, fish and veggies. But, especially during the summer when I am more reliant on it, I often use the grill to get entire meals on the table. If you think of your grill as a source of heat, the same as your oven or range, then the possibilities of what you can cook up are as varied as what you can do in your kitchen.
Over our most recent sweaty weekend, I employed my grill for one of my favorite non-traditional uses – as a makeshift pizza oven. It could not be a more crowd-pleasing, simple or speedy meal. Sometimes I make a bunch of pizza dough and individually freeze them for handy weeknight dinners, but more often than not I buy already made pizza dough from my local pizza joint or Whole Foods because, why not? From there, topping combos are endless. White pizza, pesto, tomato sauce. Pepperoni, peppers, olives, clams. Ham and pineapple if that’s your bag – hey, no judgment here. Asiago, Parmigiano, fresh Mozz, shredded mozz, or even strips of your kid’s string cheese sticks – which, I admit I might never have tried intentionally, but when a lack of any other option forced my hand – actually works really well. If you have a wide cast iron pan, you can use that, or if you’re a pizza-loving house, an investment in a quality pizza stone is totally worth it. I have one from Emile Henry, which you can buy for about $49 – the price of 2-3 pizza deliveries that you won't need now that you're a master pizza maker.
Assemble the pizza on the stone, throw it on the grill and it’s ready in a matter of minutes. Just make sure you watch the heat so that the outside edges of the crust don’t singe. Because while what you put on your pizza is personal preference, one thing that hasn’t yet become a thing is blackened crust.
I write about food and I talk about food and I eat a lot of food. Co-writer of Amanda Freitag's, The Chef Next Door and Cooking in my Street Clothes by Missy Robbins (Fall '17). Co-founder of Family Meal, cooking classes that allow family members to learn, cook and eat together, taught by pro chefs.