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posted: 5/16/2012 6:00 AM

Pizza on the Grill: Master Instructions

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Gas grill method: Preheat the grill by setting all the burners on high. After lighting, close the lid and leave on high for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat of all the burners to medium.

Meanwhile, sprinkle your work surface with the grits or polenta. Place the dough in the middle of the surface. You can either roll out the dough with a rolling pin, stretch it out with your hands, or press it out from the center against the work surface. Ideally, you want a 12-inch, organically shaped piece of dough -- round, square, or rectangular -- to ¼ inch thick (err on the thinner side for thin-crust pizza and on the thicker side for thick-crust pizza). Drizzle or brush both sides generously with oil. Our recipes call for 2 tablespoons, but we tend to use more oil when making our own pizzas, which results in a thinner and crispier crust.

Pick up the dough by the two corners closest to you. In one motion, lay it down flat on the cooking grate from back to front (as you would set a tablecloth down on a table). Close the lid and grill for 3 minutes (no peeking!), then check the crust and, if necessary, continue grilling a few more minutes until the bottom is well marked and nicely browned.

Use tongs to transfer the crust from the grill to a peel or rimless baking sheet. Close the lid of the grill. Flip the crust to reveal the grilled side. Follow the specific recipe directions for adding any sauce, toppings, and/or cheese.

Switch the grill to indirect heat by turning off the center burner(s) if you have a three- or four-burner grill. For a two-burner grill, turn off one burner. Set the pizza back on the grate over indirect heat (the unlit section) and grill, with the lid down, until the bottom is well browned and the cheese is melted, 7-10 minutes. For two-burner grills, rotate the pizza halfway through the cooking time.

Remove from the grill, garnish, and season as directed. Slice and serve immediately.

Charcoal grill method: Build a fire by lighting 50 to 60 charcoal briquettes in either a chimney starter or in a pyramid-shaped mound on the bottom grate of your grill. Once the briquettes have become gray-ashed (20-30 minutes), move them all to one side of the grill.

Meanwhile, sprinkle your work surface with the grits or polenta. Place the dough in the middle of the surface. You can either roll out the dough with a rolling pin, stretch it out with your hands, or press it out from the center against the work surface. Ideally, you want a 12-inch by 6-inch, organically shaped piece of dough -- a rectangle -- to ¼ inch thick (err on the thinner side for thin-crust pizza and on the thicker side for thick-crust pizza). Drizzle or brush both sides generously with oil. Our recipes call for 2 tablespoons, but we tend to use more oil when making our own pizzas, which results in a thinner and crispier crust.

Pick up the dough by the two corners closest to you. In one motion, lay it down flat--over the side without briquettes--on the cooking grate from back to front (as you would set a tablecloth down on a table). Close the lid and grill for 3 minutes (no peeking!), then rotate the crust 180 degrees and continue grilling until the bottom is well marked and evenly browned, another 2 to 3 minutes.

Use tongs to transfer the crust from the grill to a peel or rimless baking sheet. Close the lid of the grill. Flip the crust to reveal the grilled side. Follow the specific recipe directions for adding any sauce, toppings, and/or cheese.

Set the pizza back on the grate over the side without briquettes and grill, with the lid down, for 4 to 5 minutes. Rotate the pizza 180 degrees and continue to grill with the lid down until the bottom is well browned and cheese is melted, another 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove from the grill, garnish, and season as directed. Slice and serve immediately.

"Pizza on the Grill" by Elizabeth Karmel and Bob Blumer (Tauton Press, 2012)

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