September 3, 2010

It's Labor Day Weekend! Roll Out the Dough and Fire Up the Grill.

It's a Labor Day post: a post both yummy and fun enough to get me through the long weekend. It's a party in a post.

Summer is coming to end end, and rather than cry about it, I say "fire up the grill!" Nothing says summer than food off the BBQ, eaten outdoors, citronella candles lit and dusk settling in.

In this case, we fired up the coals for a very special round of grilled pizza. My Aunt Judy, Uncle Jack, and cousin Jamie threw a little grilled pizza party when we were all out on Martha's Vineryard together (Judy and Jack's other three kids, Jon, Jennie, and Jason had unfortunately already gone home... to be with the dogs Jada, Josie, and Juno)....

Anyway, where were we? Yes, grilled pizzas.

Not just pizzas, plural, but thirty grilled pizzas were made that night. They just kept on churning them out.

This was my Aunt Judy's lineup of dough:

It's like a little pizza army, ready and waiting.

This dough carries secrets with it: It is bread dough. Simple, frozen store bought bread dough. Perhaps that secret what makes every little pizza pie so extraordinarily fluffy and chewy in the inside, and perfectly golden and toasty on the outside (grill marks included).

Aunt Judy lets the dough thaw a bit, then slices each dough loaf into two. She places them on floured cookie sheets to raise and reach room temperature, tucking them in with love underneath clean dish towels. While this is happening, she uses the time to prepare many delicious toppings (see below).

When she's ready to grill she cranks it to its highest setting and when it's piping hot turns it back down to low and sprays with a bit of grill spray. She then stretches out the dough, one by one until fairly thin and about 9" - 10" in diameter, then places each on the grill in turn. When the bottom of the dough is golden-brown it gets flipped over, drizzled with olive oil, then a handful of Parmesan cheese, and then whatever topping combination is next on the list.

Then, her toppings get topped: with fresh garlic, a bit of salt, more mozzarella and parmesan. Each pie then gets moved over to the right side of the grill so she can start making the next pizza. The pizza gets taken off the grill once it appears that the cheese has entirely melted.

But let's back up a minute to that mention of "toppings." I'll share a few with you here:

These are action shots, for sure. These pizza slices were flying off the pan and into our mouths as soon as the cutter lifted a centimeter from the dough... our family knows how to have a real pizza party!

Crisp broccoli and juicy grilled chicken with creamy alfredo sauce:

Fiery and saucy Franks Red Hot buffalo chicken smothered in a blend of Mexican and Mozzarella cheeses:

Crisp, salty bacon and fresh clams (surf & turf pizza!):

Grilled eggplant picked straight from the garden, with delicious red sauce:

My favorite: sweet, soft caramelized onions with sausage and bacon. A total dream...

The Margarita pizza is a classic, with huge, thick slices of fluffy buffalo mozzarella warmed over sliced fresh tomatoes:

And meaty, succulent slices of grilled steak with juicy sauteed mushrooms and savory onions. Life could truly not get any better:

Some of the topping combinations that were cranked out didn't make it into the photo shoot. We simply eat way too fast for that in this family.

At her Connecticut home, Aunt Judy grills pizzas every Friday, and usually it's for a crowd. As she notes, "many of my kid's friends just happen to show up at dinnertime..." If I lived any closer, I would, too. Aunt Judy is my wonderful godmother, and indeed, her pizzas are a gift from God.

Judy has a reputation for being adventurous with her pizzas and has been known to top her pies with anything from mashed potatoes, to every single scrap left in her toppings bowls, to whatever is left over in the refrigerator on that given Friday night (potato salad, squid, and cut up meatballs have all made the list).

Regardless of the toppings, each of these pies is intensely delicious. There's something magical that happens when fluffy bread dough meets piping hot grill... and there's something even more magical that happens when extended family is lucky enough to be together in one place, from the West Coast to the East, to share it all... Down to the very last bite.


  1. From another CT resident - you aunt's pizzas look wonderful. Sounds like a good time was had by all. Thanks for sharing the delicious photos!

  2. I love your blog - it made me cry! It is important to build family traditions and if a little pizza (or 30) on the grill can help then I'm all for it!

  3. This was also one of my favorite posts. And it will always also be a favorite memory!



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