Although summer is awesome, I appreciate the climate in Fall and Spring when it’s comfortable to hang outside in a jacket and I don’t sweat profusely every time I light the grill. Fall also marks the return of pumpkin beer and pizza making season. Pumpkin beers aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but they are at their best when combined with a carefully poured Guinness for a Black’n Pump.
The Pumpkinhead spice and sweetness are cut by the Guinness and it generally becomes a nice, easy drinking beer for the fall, albeit ne that I will get sick of every year by November. On the other hand, the pizza making is always a fall to spring favorite because I get to sample toppings combinations I’ve never come across in my storied pizza-eating career. I just have to make them first.
This year, with my trusty Stealth Griller in the fold, I’ve started experimenting with grilled pizza. The concept was first explained to me by my previous boss Anne-Marie to which I replied with a confused look and “you put the dough right on the grill?!?!” before shrugging my shoulders and chuckling like she was insane. More recently, this has become a specialty of my friend Buschy who, despite his unrefined palate, was able to provide some great pointers for this endeavor.
I think everyone would agree that 40% of the battle for great pizza is a well thought out topping combination. Or, whatever I have in the freezer and haven’t come up with a good way to use. In this case, Louisiana crawfish.
Crawfish (or crayfish or crawdads or mudbugs) look like tiny fresh-water lobsters. You pretty much only eat the tail which tastes a little more like crab than lobster but with the texture of shrimp. Great stuff when done right.
The crawfish came courtesy of Dupee who has been Geologying (I believe that’s what his line of work is called) in Louisiana and flew back with 6 frozen one pound packages. Looked like it was caught and packaged in a real backwoods operation, which made me more excited than scared for some reason.
With an idea of the types of ingredients that always compliment shellfish, I started out by sauteeing 6 cloves of chopped garlic in butter. After a few minutes, and with the garlic starting to brown slightly around the edges, I added the thawed pound of crawfish.
After the crawfish and garlic cooked together for a bit I added crushed red pepper, a half cup of white wine, and a little salt. Let that simmer for 10ish minutes to cook off most of the excess liquid before adding a handful of chopped parsley.
While the crawfish mixture simmered, I boiled three ears of corn for 5 minutes before rinsing them in cold water to stop the cook and cutting the kernels off the cobs.
I slowly added the corn wanting to make sure I didn’t add too much before mumbling “eff it” and dumping the whole pile in. ‘Course.
WIth the topping complete, it was time to move on to the pizza.
I fired up the grill, brushed it as clean as I could get it, and preheated it on high. While that came up to temperature, I cut a pizza dough in half, stretched it into shape and coated one side with salt, pepper and a generous amount of olive oil.
Before placing on the grill I rubbed the grate with a rag soaked in olive oil to reduce the chance of the sticking. The dough went onto the grill oil side down before closing the lid and turning off the center burner.
After a few short minutes, I had this:
The doughs came off the grill without sticking at all and were crusted enough that they stayed flat on the spatula despite minimal support. Once inside, I coated the uncooked side of the dough with a little more olive oil then flipped it on the cookie sheet.
The grilled side got a light covering of shredded mozzarella, then a good layer of the crawfish and corn mixture topped with a sprinkling of romano cheese. Then back onto the grill that I left on high while I topped the pizza so it would stay hot.
After 4-5 more minutes with the lid down and the heat lowered slightly to allow the cheese to melt, the pizzas came off and hit the cutting board.
The most important part, the crust, was excellent. Crispy but soft and bubbly inside with the flavors of the salt, pepper, and olive oil coating adding great seasoning. The crawfish was much milder in flavor than the smell when I first opened the package and not fishy at all. Because the corn and crawfish cooked together, the topping had a deliciously consistent shellfish/garlicky/winey/buttery flavor, but with the contrasting textures of the corn and crawfish in every bite. The sprinkling of cheese on top added a lot of sharpness which I thought was excellent though Kristi found the cheese overwhelming until the slices cooled down a bit.
You will likely see a lot more grilled pizzas on here, the dough just comes out far better than a standard 500F oven. Let’s see what I got next week.