Before I became a proselyte for cigars, I had versed myself in another kind of smoking: barbeque, done right, slow cooking for hours over smoldering wood. A convert to this mostly Southern cuisine, I took a lot of ribbing as a damn Yankee when I went to Dixie to research a book I wrote on the subject. No Northerner, I was told, could hope to compete with the grill masters of the South. If the fighting is done with pork ribs or beef brisket, then maybe that's true. But I contend that in one arena the Northeast has the South cooked: pizza making.
Now, you might think you have to be Italian or Greek and own a brick oven to make a classic pizza. But during cookout season you can make a fair approximation of the real thing with little more than a good grill and an active imagination. That second part makes it a great entertaining option, for with the right ingredients you can personalize pizza for a host of people while they watch.
First you need dough. You can make it yourself (find a recipe here:
nytimes.com/2010/05/19/dining/19pizza.html), buy it at the store in the dairy case or even get it from a friendly pizzeria. Next, raid the refrigerator or local delicatessan for the toppings that you may think will be interesting. In addition to the usual sausage and anchovies, consider smoked salmon, clams, olives, pineapples, salad leaves. Then form your dough into very thin, six-inch pies with the slight rim. Of course, you can make them bigger, but toasting them in small portions eliminates the age-old argument of what toppings to order as each diner has his own pie. Sprinkle cornmeal on the dough to keeping it from sticking and place it face down on an upper rack to keep it from burning. (Weber and others make pizza stones that prevent scorching, but take longer.) Add wood chips for smoke flavor. Watch carefully, and when it's slightly toasted pull out the pie and turn it over. Fill with tomato sauce (again store bought or your favorite recipe). You could use traditional crumbled mozzarella, but why not experiment with alternatives like ricotta, feta or blue cheese? Pile on your toppings and return to the grill with the lid down to melt cheese (about three minutes). Now, you've got a treat that will make even a good ol' boy's mouth water.
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