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Become a master of grilled pizza dough

Posted: Friday, Jun. 08, 2012

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Chef Troy Gagliardo

Chef Troy Gagliardo is a self-taught chef that has parlayed his years of kitchen experience into many other culinary ventures. Including designing and developing his all-grilled restaurant concepts, a proprietary spice line, cook books, commercials, food styling, cooking/restaurant columns, endorsements, cooking classes, and live appearances. Troy has been voted as one of the Charlotte’s Top Five Chefs two years in a row by Creative Loafing readers and competed in the Iron Fork competition both years. Chef Troy has appeared in two national commercials with NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. and joined him for a media tour day just days before Dale Jr. won his second Daytona 500 to start the 2014 NASCAR season.For the past seven years, Chef Troy has appeared each week on Charlotte's morning show WCCB News Rising, cooking his way through "Troy’s Everyday Eats". Filmed live each week at the WCCB Charlotte studios, Chef Troy teaches his unique style of food with a simple approach directed toward the home-cook/viewer.His feature on Rising began in August of 2007, and since has become the most anticipated part of the show. During that time Troy has prepare over one thousand of his creative original recipes live on-air and has made several cooking appearances on the night time show, WCCB News Edge. Chef Troy teamed up with The Fresh Market as a sponsor for “Troy’s Everyday Eats" in April of 2011. Troy shops each week at The Fresh Market for the ingredients used on the show, he says, "The Fresh Market sponsorship is something I have pursued for a long time. I love shopping at their markets because everything is always so fresh. They have a large variety of organic and sustainable food options. As a consumer and chef, I couldn't ask for anything more". Warren publishing recently signed Chef Troy to publish his new cookbook entitled Pseudo Southern-a playful twist on the art of southern cooking, which has been endorsed by Top Chef Alum and best-selling author Fabio Viviani and also star of “A Chef’s Life” Vivian Howard. Fabio said of Pseudo Southern, "Southern food is my second home. It's as close to my heart like Italy is, and that is why I love Troy's recipes so much. They remind me of the childhood I would have had if I was born in the south”. Vivian had this to say, “Troy’s take on southern food is just left of center, fun, and refreshing. His recipes are approachable that even the most jaded cook will be intrigued to try.” Chef Troy is also a free-lance food writer for the Charlotte Observer and Examiner.com and lives in Mooresville, NC with his wife Tracy, of twenty-three years, and their two daughters, Ally and Isabella. He can be seen every Tuesday morning from 7-9 am on WCCB News Rising.

Grilled pizza? It’s easier than you may think. Once the dough hits the hot grates, it begins to cook almost instantly, forming a lightly charred crust that is easy to turn and flip.

A standard pizza with a little sauce, cheese and topping is a classic, but there are lots of other things that can be made from grilling pizza dough – grilled flatbread, croutons, sandwich bread and even desserts.

Know going in that there is some trial and error to the process; every grill is different so times and temperatures will vary. However, once you figure each of those out, you will become a master of grilling pizza dough.

Grilling Pizza Dough:

Start with a good quality pizza dough, either homemade or from your favorite pizzeria.

Pre-heat grill to medium-high heat for direct heat grilling.

If you are trying to grill pizza dough for the first time, try a smaller dough ball, the size for a personal pizza. This will make the dough easier to handle.

Stretch dough out to a medium thickness and lightly oil the top. If the dough is too thin, it will burn and if it is too thick, the inside won’t completely cook.

Pick up the dough oiled side up (palms up) and place the side closet to you down first towards the back of the grill. Continue to lay the dough down, flipping towards you as you go.

The beauty of pizza is that it doesn’t have to be perfect - it can be whatever size or shape you want it to be. As the first side is grilling, lightly oil the top of the dough before flipping.

Grilling the dough will go fast. Have a pizza peel or large flat metal spatula ready so you can turn and flip when needed. Grill the first side until it releases itself from the grill, 1-1/2 minutes. Flip the dough to the other side and repeat.

The side you placed down first will become the bottom of the pizza.

Finish the pizza by melting the cheese on a baking stone in a hot oven. You can also do this on the indirect side of the grill on a baking stone or on the top rack. When finishing the dough on the grill, don’t grill the raw dough as much as you would if finishing in a conventional oven.

Experiment with different vegetables, meats, seafood, cheeses and seasonings; the joy in cooking is that there are no limitations. Just have fun learning to grill pizza dough. Here is a great recipe to get you started.

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad Pizza:

Makes 2 12-inch grilled pizzas

• 2 pizza dough balls, 14 ounces each, homemade or from a pizzeria

• 2 cups Caesar dressing, your favorite store bought or homemade version

• 4 cups whole milk mozzarella cheese, shredded

• extra virgin olive oil, to drizzle

• 4 chicken breasts per dough ball, 6 to 8 ounces each, boneless and skinless

• Kosher salt/black pepper

• 2 romaine hearts each, cut in half and thin sliced into shreds

• 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded into thins strips with a vegetable peeler

• 1 lemon each, cut into wedges

Directions:

1. Pre-heat grill for direct heat grilling and oven fitted with a pizza or baking stone to 500 degrees.

2. Drizzle the chicken breast lightly with oil, season generously on both sides. Place on grill or in grill pan and cook on both sides, about 6 minutes each or until just cooked through. Remove from the grill and place on a plate to rest and cool completely in the refrigerator. This will ensure that all of the chicken juices remain inside the breast after being cut into pieces.

3. Roll out pizza dough to about a 12” diameter. Lightly oil and grill dough according to the grilling instructions above. Let dough cool to room temperature before assembling the pizza.

4. Drizzle or brush the grilled dough with a little Caesar dressing. Reserve some dressing to garnish the top of the pizza after it is baked.

5. Equally distribute the mozzarella cheese over the Caesar dressing on both of the grilled pizza doughs.

6. Cut chicken breast into bite size pieces and top both pizzas.

7. Next, place the pizza in the oven on the pizza stone and bake until golden and gooey, rotating once or twice.

8. With a pizza peel, remove from the oven and let rest a few minutes before cutting into 8 slices. To garnish, equally distribute the romaine on both pizzas, top with the Parmesan cheese to taste, drizzle with a little Caesar dressing and serve.

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