By William Turner
Ah, springtime is upon us. While many a young man’s fancy turns to certain things, others of us are already salivating thinking of uncovering the Weber. Cooking is such a great activity for men. Where women go about the task of food preparation quietly and without much fanfare, men turn it into a sport, especially at grill time, spraying beer on flaming meats, concocting infamous “rubs” that more often than not produce severe gastrointestinal chaos, and generally making a mess.
However, I suggest that we all stop for a moment and also remember that springtime brings some important events. Most importantly, Mother’s Day is upon us, and whether it is your own mom or the mother of your children, you need to be ready. And, some of our charred concoctions may not win high praise. We need something softer, lighter in color — no blacks and dark browns. We need to start planning now for BRUNCH FOR MOM.
So, what do we do? We need to do something special — cook a meal, serve breakfast in bed or something. At first I thought, “Voilà, home-made croissants!,” but that is a two-day process with umpteen steps. That would be a quick way to blow our macho. Maybe a Quiche Lorraine, I pondered, but if that ever got out among my so-called friends, I might never hear the end of it.
Let’s go back to basics; the grill is one of our tools of choice, so let’s start there. There are some creative possibilities here. One of my favorites might work out well. How about a Grilled Brunch Pizza (GBP)?! I suspect that the name may not generate much enthusiasm at first blush, but give this a try and you will not only fulfill your Mother’s Day obligation, but also achieve something much more important. This dish is so cool that she will give you a slightly puzzled, fascinated look, while thinking, “Who is this guy? There is a something here that I never knew existed.” How much is that worth?
Here’s how you do a GBP. First, you have to make batch of pizza dough, which is so simple you will wonder why you don’t have your own pizza parlor. The hardest thing about making pizza dough is going to the store to buy yeast, which you probably don’t have. If you’re stopped in your tracks worried about making a little pizza dough, consider yourself un-American. Get a hold of yourself, grab the keys and go to the store. While you’re there get everything else you need. And, don’t forget that a GBP is only served on Mother’s Day with ice-cold bubbly, and I’m not talking about Budweiser.
Be bold and make the dough. If we can send a man to the moon, I think we can make pizza dough.
- 3 cups flour (preferably bread flour which is finer)
- 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 Tsp. salt
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 Tbsp. yeast
- Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.
- Mix the salt and the flour in a mixing bowl, add the olive oil, and stir in the yeast and water.
- Get a little flour on your hands, grab the gooey dough out of the bowl and start kneading while you walk around the house telling everyone how important it is to get back to basics in life.
- The gooey mess will magically transform into warm silky dough after about five minutes. When that happens, put the dough in a greased bowl, cover with a dishtowel, and let rise for 2-3 hours.
Like many things that you have tried with some trepidation the first time (sky diving, whitewater rafting), some of you are thinking that this is scary and too much work. Be bold and make the dough. If we can send a man to the moon, I think we can make pizza dough.
While the dough is rising, prepare the toppings for your GBP. This is a large pizza so you can easily do a “half-and-half.” I like the classic Margherita Pizza on one side and a sausage, bacon and cheese Meat Lovers Pizza on the other side. Below is a suggested list of ingredients:
- ½ lb. fresh mozzarella (BelGioioso has a nice one.)
- 1 cup of ripe tomatoes, thinly sliced and dried on paper towels
- ¼ cup of fresh basil leaves, torn into pieces
- ½ lb. of Italian sausage — mild or hot (Moms usually prefers mild) — cooked
- Six slices of bacon — cooked to crispy
- 1 cup tomato-based pizza sauce
- 1 cup grated mozzarella
Feel free to invent. Black olives, artichoke hearts, roasted peppers — there are so many things you could try. Grill some slices of fresh pineapple and add those.
I originally got the idea for this dish from the Joy of Cooking, but the technique below is proprietary and I think you will find it very cool.
- When the dough has risen, fire up your grill to high (about 400 to 425 degrees).
- Get out a rectangular baking sheet (like you use when making cookies), turn it upside down and put olive oil on the outside including the sides.
- Now take the dough and put it on a floured surface and gently stretch into a rectangle about the same size as the pan. You can use a rolling pin if you want, but you can probably do it with your hands.
- Lift the dough onto the pan and spread as evenly as possible out to and around the edges.
- Brush the top liberally with olive oil. DON’T FORGET THIS STEP.
- Open the grill and make sure everyone is watching as you quickly and deftly flip over the pan and set it on the grill.
- After about 30 seconds, the dough will adhere enough to the grill to allow you to remove the pan.
- Close the grill and cook for six minutes.
- Get your toppings ready along with two spatulas.
- Open the grill and flip the pizza using the spatulas. The dough should be nicely browned.
- Brush again with olive oil and then add the toppings. Work quickly.
- Close and cook for another six minutes.
- Get a big cutting board and remove the pizza when done. Cut and serve.
You have made a wonderful treat for Mother’s Day. Hopefully, there will be others around to see your adventure, since you may have now achieved iconic stature. Sit back and enjoy it while you give thanks for that mom who has put up with you for so long.