While traveling, I have experienced a bevy of different cultures and cooking styles which have allowed me to pick up some appetizing
recipes to delight my taste buds. The most significant of all delectable treats; Roman pizza! Every now and again my senses are tipped off by either a sound, smell, or sight that bring me right back to life in Rome. Today, it was a song by Luca DIriso, an Italian singer, which happened to make its way onto my Ipod via a random playlist. At a stop light it all came rushing back, I could feel the cool breeze rushing through the corridor and into my apartment. Luca’s voice belted out, “Ci vuole calma e sangue freddo, calma ya!”. It’s as if someone pulled the steering wheel to the left and I was on my way to the local Italian market rather than home. When I strolled through the front door I could hear the soft sounds of an Italian opera playing over the speakers and a few older Italian men speaking in native tongue with hand gestures accompanying the emotion of their conversation.
The ingredients in the sauce make or break the pizza. Most think that an Italian pizza sauce consists of a chemistry set worth of ingredients however this is contrary to the truth. 5 ingredients at most make the perfect sauce and measurements are the key. The 5 ingredients that are included are Italian
tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), fresh garlic, salt, pepper, and oregano. Some prefer to include a rich red wine or olive oil as well. I have been known to add a few dashes of red pepper flake for a bit of a kick, but that is usually topped on the pizza after cooking. The dough must absolutely be fresh. A frozen piece of dough tends to be more chewy and less airy with a crunch. I brush on a thin layer of olive oil and sprinkle flour on both sides. The cheese I use is fresh mozzarella in water.
Cooking method is crucial if you are in search of a smokey flavor. The Roman’s use a wood fire oven and there is positively nothing like it. For my cooking method, I used a charcoal grill and tossed on a piece of applewood. Any fruit bearing type of wood brings about a full body richness to the ingredients of the pizza. Once I had already started heating the grill and putting my ingredients together, I wondered how the pizza would not slip through the grate. I had a pizza stone, but I was a bit apprehensive to put a cold stone directly over an intense heat which would cause it to break. So, I preheated the oven with the stone inside up to 500 degrees fahrenheit. As soon as the grill was up to the proper heat of 475-500 degrees, I pulled the stone out of the oven with my fireproof grill gloves and transferred the stone onto the grill grate about 7 inches above
the coals. I put the cover on and let the stone rest on the grate for about 10 minutes in order to ensure no breaks or cracks would occur.
I then sprinkled corn meal onto the pizza stone to prevent the dough from sticking and I slid the pizza onto the stone. I could already hear the sizzle and it was music to my ears! The Italian song was playing again in my head and I was back in Rome! Be sure to keep checking the pizza every 5 minutes and try to rotate it in order to ensure even cooking. During the last 5 minutes of cooking, I put the grill top on and closed the smoke release in order to really saturate in that wood smoke flavor into the pizza.
After removing the pizza from the stone and onto a cookie sheet, I let it cool for about 5 minutes and then cut it. The pizza cutter crunched into the crust and I could see the fatty oil running from the salami. Most people prefer wine or beer with their pizza, but for me nothing is better than an ice cold coca cola.
This may infuriate a few Italian food purists, however I should be pardoned since I am born and raised in Atlanta; Coca Cola headquarters. So, just sit back, throw on an Italian song by Luca Diriso, bite into your grilled pizza, and relax with a smile.