In rural Italy, just about everyone has a little exterior wood-fired oven that is used extensively throughout the long, hot summer months for baking pizzas and roasting meats and vegetables. Use your covered grill or barbecue to simulate these traditional ovens and make the best pizza ever!
Yield: SERVES 4 TO 6
1 oz (25 g) dried porcini mushrooms
2 oz (50 g) pancetta (unsmoked Italian bacon), thinly sliced
1 lb (500 g) pizza dough, rolled out
3 tbsp (45 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1½ (375 mL) cups shredded Italian Fontina cheese
¼ (50 mL) cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
Preheat grill or barbecue.
1. In a small bowl, pour ½ cup (125 mL) boiling water over dried mushrooms. Soak for about 20 minutes. Drain; squeeze mushrooms dry, reserving liquid. In a large skillet over medium heat, cook pancetta for 1 minute per side.
2. If using a gas grill, ensure that one burner is on medium-high, with the rest on as low as possible. With a charcoal grill, you can achieve a similar effect by getting coals very hot, then arrange in a ring around perimeter of grill.
3. Fold dough in half; place on coolest part of grill. Unfold so that dough is situated over cooler section of grill. Close lid; cook for about 3 minutes. When dough is bubbling on top and golden brown on bottom, flip using two metal spatulas. Brush grilled top of dough with half the olive oil.
4. Evenly distribute mushrooms, pancetta, cheese and parsley over surface of dough. Drizzle remaining olive oil and ¼ cup (50 mL) mushroom soaking liquid over surface. Close lid; cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is melted and bottom is golden brown.
5. Using two spatulas, remove pizza from grill to a cutting board. Let sit for 1 minute, then slice. Serve immediately.
Make sure your grill racks are clean and that you follow the method (described in step 2) for preheating the grill or barbecue.
Rolling the dough into an irregular, oval shape makes sense if you have a rectangular-shaped grill. Roll it to a rounder shape if you have a kettle-shaped barbecue with a round grill.
Many bakeries and supermarkets offer prepared pizza or bread dough. I often buy a couple of balls from a local pizza parlor. However, if you have a good dough recipe — and the time to prepare it — by all means use it here.