Friday, July 3, 2009

Grilled Pizza

Grilled pizza is so easy and so superior in flavor compared to most homemade oven baked pizza, it's surprising that people don't do it more often. If you have a grill you CAN make grilled pizza! I suggest that you don't even bother with those pizza stones for the grill. They are quite expensive so why spend $50 or more on something that isn't even necessary? I'll outline the basics of how I make grill pizza.

First build a 2 zone charcoal fire (hot on one side, cool on the other). If you're using a gas grill, preheat your grill by turning half of your burners on medium-high to high and leave the other half off. The objective is to cook the dough quickly on the hot side, take it off, put on your toppings, and then place the topped pizza on the cool side to melt the cheese and warm the ingredients on the other of the grill using indirect heat.

Now I know what you're thinking... Doesn't the dough fall through the grates? Doesn't the dough stick to the grates? Nope, not even close - so set your fears aside and grill some pizza.

Get your dough ready spreading it to about a 1/4 inch thick. If you can go thinner by all means go for it, but be aware that the thinner the dough, the faster it will cook. I also like brushing it or spraying it with olive oil. Below is the raw dough just after being placed on the grill.

Raw dough on the hot side of the grill.

The cooking of the dough/crust goes fast - like, real fast - so DO NOT leave the grill, do not answer the phone, do not get a beer. OK if you're quick you can go get a beer, but walk fast! I would say that this dough (below) was turned after about 45 seconds. I told you it was fast.

I flip the crust probably 3 or 4 times. I want to cook the crust through but I don't want it to burn. By flipping it a few times I'm able to achieve that.

Pizza crust after flipping.

After the crust is cooked, remove it and add your toppings. Obviously the sky is the limit here, so add anything and everything you want! Now place the pizza back on the grill but this time put it on the cool side. Again, you want to warm the ingredients and melt the cheese. This process takes about 4-8 minutes depending on the heat of your fire. When your cheese is melted, you're done. Slice it up and enjoy!

Finished pizza being taken off the grill by yours truly.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Don't Beat Your Meat...

...Grind it!

If you're used to supermarket ground beef, you're in for a revelation when you start grinding your own meat at home. It's not scary, just keep your fingers out of the way! There are lots of advantages of home grinding:

The first advantage of grinding your own meat (aside from being kinda fun) is above all, freshness. The quality of your finished dish is automatically multiplied simply because you have freshly ground meat. You'll be surprised how light and fluffy the meat can be. I know it sounds funny to say that meat can be fluffy but, just believe me.

The second advantage of home grinding is that YOU get to pick and choose the cut of meat you want to grind. As you'll see below, I'm using brisket which has plenty of flavor (fat). Try to use something that has at least an 80/20 ratio of meat to fat. If you're looking for even more flavor and juiciness, look for cuts that will yield 75/25 or even 70/30 ratio. You could use anything from the standard chuck or sirloin to something a little more specialized like flat iron or brisket.

The third advantage that I'll mention is that you can more safely cook your burgers to medium, medium rare, or even rare. I was a little too hungry and I ate my burger before I took a picture, (sorry) but if it's been a while since you've had a fresh, medium rare burger you're in for a real treat! Keep everything cold, keep everything clean, and a medium rare home ground burger isn't as risky as it sounds.

It may not be everyday that you grind your own beef but I think it is most certainly worth the time. If you have a Kitchen Aid or a Cuisinart stand mixer, you're halfway there. Now all you need is a meat grinding attachment that matches your machine. So if you're looking for a 4th of July treat to yourself and your guests, try out a home ground burger!

Raw beef brisket ready to be cut into cubes and ground.

Ground brisket from our grinding attachment on the Cuisinart mixer.