By Theresa Marquez | Photos By Jim Klousia 3
Forming the Crust
After your dough has risen, divide it into small balls, each about a half-pound or so. I let these rest for 10 minutes before stretching the dough by hand into a round crust. For the smaller 12- to 14-inch rounds, throwing the pizza dough up to stretch it actually works! But it is a technique one has to work at. Cornmeal is essential, sprinkled generously under the pizza dough to facilitate the slide from the peel or board to the grill.
Since this is yeast dough, it will rise in contact with the heat of the fire. So what may seem thin to begin with will double in bulk. The ideal crust is very thin in the middle with most of the dough pushed out to the edges. As with pie crust, you can fold the dough edges over or under to form a thicker rim. One should be able to pick up the wedge and eat it out of hand, unless you have gotten carried away with toppings.
Grilling the Pizza
Here is the trickiest part. The coals need to be just right so you don’t burn the crust before the edges are cooked. Slow cooking over hot coals is best. When I feel the coals are just right—without flame—I gently slide the crust from the peel onto the grill. In a few minutes, the crust gets firm and the edges begin to rise. The middle sometimes forms a bubble, which you can prick to keep the crust flat.
Using a spatula, lift the edge of the pizza dough. When you see golden grill marks, it is time to turn the dough over. If the coals are hotter in one spot, which is not unusual, rotate the pizza while it is cooking so it will cook evenly. Right after flipping, I put on the cheese and a dribble of olive oil. Unlike oven pizza, the cheese goes on first not last. By the time the cheese melts the crust should be done crisping up. Once again, check for golden grill marks and a nice puffy rim. Then slide it onto the wooden board.
Topping the Pizza
This part is the most fun. Here is my routine: I put the chopped tomatoes or sauce on top of the melted cheese, grate on parmesan, and then I rub fresh chopped basil or whole dried oregano between my fingers while sprinkling them onto the pizza. I arrange other toppings as desired and voila—the Driftless Pizza is ready for eating!
One Fine Day
Recently the Edible Madison team joined me for a Driftless Pizza making session, and we made a Grilled Pizza with Basil and Pesto Sauce. I hope you have as much fun making and eating this delicious pizza as we did!
Pizza Napoletana in Madison
Cafe Porta Alba is the only restaurant that is Vera Pizza Napoletana (VPN) Certified, following strict guidelines for authentic Neapolitan style pizza set by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana in Italy and sourcing all ingredients and equpment from Italy.
558 N. Midvale Blvd. (in the Hilldale Mall), Madison, WI
Two other restaurants have taken their own twist on the VPN standards by using comparable local, organic ingredients in the Neapolitan style:
Pizza Brutta: Chef Derek Lee is certified as a pizzaiolo with VPN and uses local, organic ingredients and local firewood.
1805 Monroe St., Madison, WI
Lombardino's: Neapolitan style pizza using local, organic produce, eggs and meats.
2500 University Avenue, Madison, WI