I’m sitting outside on our front walkway as the kids swing away in their hammocks. The sun is high, warm, inviting, and the wind is whistling through the trees. Sure, there is a yellow dusting of pollen everywhere and I might have to take a Claritin, but it’s not going to rob me of the joys of Spring. Especially in good ‘ol Georgia. The leaves are blooming, the bulbs are displaying their best and brightest colors, and the azaleas are showcasing their splendor. Rich colors, amazing weather, and hopes of what late Spring and Summer will deliver. We are going through some dark times right now, but that’s not going to stop my excitement for one of my favorite times of year.
We love to cook. And I mean, LOVE to cook. It’s funny, given all that is going on with COVID-19, they are saying takeout is on at an all-time high. Companies like Dominos and Papa Johns are hiring thousands of workers to deliver. And it’s understandable… most everyone is confined to there home and some families eat out a lot more on any given week. We went and supported a local pizza restaurant the other day that is hanging on by a thread. When we got home the kids devoured several pieces. My daughter looked around and said, “Daddy, I’m sorry, I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but this pizza tastes better than yours”. Kate and I got a big kick out of this. As a big grin came across my face I told her, “Honey, I hope it is better than mine… these chefs have spent years honing their craft and the make one mean pizza”. While I can’t say I’ve mastered it, I will say I’m not too bad at cooking a pizza on the Kamado Joe.
We spent years doing pizzas at 415 degrees in the oven. We would go to these boutique pizza places and I’d watch them serve up a masterpiece from a ceramic or brick oven. I kept telling myself, “One day, you’ll do that… and not burn it”. It’s more intimidating to me than steak, chicken, fish, or vegetables. I mean, you might have a 60 second window to get that pizza off the grill or it will be burned and black.
Take it from me, it’s not as intimidating as it seems. Just make sure you are able to monitor the grill and get a feel for how quickly the dough bakes. We like flatbread as it cooks more evenly and you don’t have to worry about a thick, possibly doughy center. Any common grocery store will have ready made (and yes, gluten free) dough that you can buy off the shelf… just look around the bakery area. Some of our friends who are more experience make their own dough. I’ve yet to see the tradeoff here of time and effort. But you can make that call for yourself.
Temperature can vary but I tend to keep the grill around 400 degrees. At this temperature, it normally takes between 12-15mins depending on your grill. I like a moderate cooking time rather than what you’d typically do with a steak where the goal is to sear it. Make sure you have a good pizza stone too. This cannot be overlooked as the distribution of heat is crucial to an even-cooked pizza. Hey, you spend anywhere from $25-$50 for a family of four at any normal pizza joint. And you can buy a top of the line stone within that range.
Below are some pizza combinations we’ve done to spice it up. Our kids still love the classic cheese… but even then, we’ve worked in gouda, fresh mozzarella, goat cheese, and others to help broaden their palate. Have fun with it and don’t worry about the fear of burning one…. I’ve burned several. On one such a night we were hosting a couple that loved fine food. In the end, let it go, don’t let fear keep you from trying and just know that with every mistake you’re getting closer and closer to perfecting your skill. Grab a glass of wine or beer, turn on some music, and enjoy the process. Cheers to spring and to PIZZA TIME!
Marinara sauce, asiago/fresh mozzarella cheese, and sausage/mushrooms/pepperoni/salami, fresh parsley, and a sprinkle of Italian Seasoning
Marinara sauce, goat cheese, fresh olives, and sprinkled with rosemary or basil leaves/fresh arugula
Alfredo sauce, asiago/mozzarella cheese + parmesan, artichokes, spinach, and fresh cilantro/fresh arugula
Pesto sauce, any 3 or 4 choice blended cheeses, sausage/mushrooms/pepperoni/salami, and top with dill
Pesto sauce, goat cheese, mushrooms, fresh capers, and sprinkle with basil leaves
Marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella, diced tomatoes, basil leaves, and drizzle lightly with oil
Barbecue sauce, any 3 or 4 choice blended cheeses, minced or ground chicken/pork, lightly drizzle with chili sauce, and add minced pickles if desired
Marinara sauce, asiago/mozzarella cheese, dried peppers, sausage/ham, prosciutto, and spinach or fresh arugula
Alfredo sauce, asiago/mozzarella cheese, sliced squash or zucchini, and add mushrooms or dried tomatoes