Friday, May 28, 2010

Dough Experiments on the Grill-Part I

A couple years ago, a good friend gave me a sample of sourdough starter.  I hadn't made sourdough since high school, and let's just say it has nostalgic value for me (RIP, Rob, I know you're laughing at me for this particular venture).

After several failed batches, I finally started getting some loaves I liked. They had good crumb, good moisture, the right amount of blistering in the crust--it took some practice, but I achieved a product I was happy with.  Best of all, I'm not sure what it is about dough, but it's always been a good source of catharsis for me.

One fine Sunday I had a batch of sourdough proofing, and I was in charge of dinner.  Looking out the kitchen window at my trusty Weber, a little switch flipped somewhere inside my cranium: What if you could make a sourdough pizza on the grill?

With my dough only partially bulk-proofed, I knew it wouldn't be done in time for dinner, so I mixed up a "quick batch" of yeast-leavened pizza crust (quick in that it only proofed and rose for about four hours).  Rolling out the crusts, the resulting product was okay if a little thin.  I had a brand-new pizza accessory for the grill that I was dying to try, and any ol' crust was gonna do at that point.

We got creative with the toppings, and the pizzas came out really good.  The goal was to use our sauces instead of a traditional red sauce. So we broke out the Grampa Bill's Original Secret Family Recipe BBQ Sauce and Gramma Rose's Authentic Japanese Teriyaki Sauce sauces and went to town, making 6 different variations.

The only variation I thought to take a picture of before it was consumed is this one.  It has a white sauce (made from cream cheese and ricotta cheese and seasoned spur-of-the-moment with garlic, salt, pepper, and onion powder).  I grilled the chicken breast ahead of time, and basted it in our bbq sauce.  You can't really see them, but there were caramelized onions on the za. To top it all off, I drizzled the whole mess with more of our bbq sauce.

As I said, the crusts were a little thin. They also came out crispier than I wanted.  Some of this was admittedly my method: I grilled them on one side, brushed the top side with olive oil, then flipped the crust before adding ingredients and finishing the bake.  Still I was looking for something a little thicker and a little chewier.

This yeast crust recipe was borrowed from The Italian Chef, who in turn appears to have borrowed it from American Pie by Peter Reinhart.  It refrigerates well, can be frozen, and grills up ok.  I'd still like to figure out how to make it a little chewier, but all-in-all, this was a good starting point.

The quest is on...

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