What did I smoke today… oh yes, Pizza!
In the summertime I like to try to spend as much time as possible outside. That also means cooking and eating outdoors; therefore we grill a lot in the summertime, and one of our favorite things to grill over the past couple of years has been pizza! Yes pizza... actually cooked outside, on the grill.
Now that we have gotten used to the new Traeger smoker we were naturally curious to see how pizza would taste smoked vs. grilled (or even oven cooked for that matter). So last week we put it to the test to see which pizza would taste better… smoked or grilled? Since this is a grilling contest we decided to go with one of our “go to” favorite summertime pizzas, BBQ Chicken Pizza. We made 2 identical pizzas and cooked one on the smoker and one on the grill and paired them with a killer Zinfandel… let’s see how they turned out.
Paired with the 2006 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel
(The recipe below is for 1 pizza. If you would like to do the challenge, like we did, then double the recipe to make 2 separate pizzas)
- Pizza dough: your favorite homemade dough, or store-bought (I use homemade just because it’s so easy to make and you control what kind of flour and additional ingredients go into it. *note: I do not recommend Trader Joes pre-made wheat dough for grilling. It is very sticky and doesn’t do too well on the grill)
- ¼ cup bbq sauce: your favorite homemade or store-bought bbq sauce (I also used homemade for this recipe, but if it’s too much work go for your favorite store bought)
- 1 grilled chicken breast: sliced into thin strips
- ¼ cup feta cheese
- ½ cup cheddar cheese
- ½ medium red onion: sliced
- 1 medium tomato: diced
- Diced Scallions: for garnish
- Diced Cilantro: for garnish
Directions: (prep all of your ingredients in advance, either in your cozy kitchen, or in the great outdoors = aka your backyard)
Pre-heat your outdoor grill to medium heat (that is, if you have a gas grill like I do).
Bring your smoker to roughly 250 degrees (at least 200).
Roll out the pizza dough very thin (about ¼ inch thick).
Brush the dough lightly on both sides with olive oil.
Grill the dough on both sides for about 2 minutes a side (just long enough to make light grill marks on the dough, but not to cook it completely).
Remove the dough from the grill.
Layer the dough evenly with the bbq sauce, chicken, cheeses, onions, tomatoes.
Now here’s where the duel begins:
Pizza #1: The Smoked Pizza
Place pizza #1 on the smoker and let it cook for approx 1 hour. You will know it is done when the cheese is melted and the dough is cooked through. Remember that a smoker is mostly indirect heat, so when it’s low heat, watch for melted cheese.
When pizza #1 is almost done (around minute 45) place pizza #2 on the grill and close the lid.
Cook for approx 10 minutes or until all of the cheeses are well melted.
When both pizzas are done garnish with scallions and cilantro, slice them up, and serve.
We served our pizzas with the 2006 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel
Notes on the pizzas:
Both pizzas actually turned out fantastic. The grilled pizza, however, was slightly overcooked. The dough came out a bit crusty. To avoid this in the future we plan to cook the pizza away from direct heat. Another tip would be to cook the pizza on a pizza stone inside the grill.
The smoked pizza was by far the winner of this challenge! The smoke infused the dough and ingredients with a beautiful deep smoky flavor, which heightened the overall flavor of the pizza. The dough came out perfect and the pizza was cooked through without any burning.
Notes on the wine:
2006 Ridge Lytton Springs Zinfandel
Retail: $38 from cork • a bottle shop
Ridge has a strong reputation for producing wonderful Zinfandels and this wine is one of the reasons why. I bought this wine a few months back at a cork • a bottle shop tasting and loved it then and have been waiting for the right meal to pair it with. This was it.
The wine was rich, luscious, and leathery, with black berry fruit and cassis on the nose. The mouth was bursting with blackberries, plum, and black cherry, with nice spice, pepper, coffee, a touch of licorice and balanced tannins. The richness and depth of the wine went very well with the smokiness of the pizza and deep sweet flavors of the bbq sauce.
Now this wine is good enough to pair with a very fine meal or special occasion… but for us, we take our pizzas seriously! This was no store bought or take out pizza, so we wanted a good wine to honor our hard work of hand making the dough, the bbq sauce, picking out the best ingredients to make the perfect bbq pizza, and slow cooking for the perfect infusion of flavors.
Smoked BBQ Chicken Pizza and Ridge Lytton Springs Zin… Delicious!