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Grilled Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Sausage and Cheese

Summer time can get hot and sticky, but that doesn’t stop us from wanting pizza – which at my house means cranking up the oven to make our homemade version.  So, to get our pizza fix without having to heat up the kitchen, we turn to the barbeque grill.  You can make a traditional pizza with tomato sauce, pepperoni and cheese or you can expand your palate and try something like this pizza with onions caramelized in red wine and balsamic vinegar, Italian sausage and Spanish Manchego cheese.

Not only are these toppings completely delicious, but the crust is, too.  Hodgson Mill Rye Flour as well as some Hodgson Mill Corn Meal is mixed into the dough to add extra flavor and crunch. Don’t worry if you’re not a big rye flour fan; it does a good job of highlighting the smoky flavor you get from cooking on the grill and isn’t noticeable otherwise.

Cooking pizza on the grill is not hard. Impressive – Yes.  Hard – No.  The key to success is to have everything prepared before you start grilling.  As luck would have it, all of these ingredients can be fixed as early as the day before – even the crust – which I promise is not hard to make, either.

Pull together your Hodgson Mill products and get ready to make some pizza dough.  You can make this dough in a food processor (to combine the ingredients), bread machine or even a large mixing bowl with a wooden spoon.  I chose my bread machine, but have used all three methods in the past without fail.

Yeast, yeast, yeast.  Proof both packets with a pinch of sugar in a small bowl with ¼ cup warm water.  Let it get nice and puffy like this – about 8 minutes.

Put the remaining ingredients in your dough making method of choice and add the yeast mixture when it’s ready.

If you choose to use a food processor or mix it by hand in a bowl, mix the ingredients just until they come together.   Then turn out the dough – it may still be a little crumbly – and knead it by hand for a few minutes on a floured counter top or pastry mat until it forms a cohesive dough ball – not super soft, but not crumbly either.  It only takes a few minutes to get this dough where you want it.  Transfer the dough to a bowl sprayed with cooking spray; turn it so it’s coated with spray on all sides, cover the bowl with some plastic wrap and set it aside to rise for about an hour or until it has almost doubled in size.

If you choose to use your bread machine, add all of the ingredients as though you were making a loaf of bread and allow the dough setting to run for about 10 minutes or until the dough has come together into a nice ball. Turn off the machine and allow the dough to rise for about an hour or until it has almost doubled in size.  My machine has a pizza dough setting, which lasts about 50 minutes, so I let it take care of the whole thing – rise time included.

While the dough is rising, cut two red onions in half and thinly slice.

Heat a little vegetable oil in a large skillet and sauté the onions until they are soft and deep golden brown – like this.

Stir in the wine, balsamic vinegar and sugar and allow the mixture to reduce until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed.  Wish you could smell the aroma floating up in this picture – yum!

Transfer the onions to a small bowl and set aside to cool.

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and sauté the sausage in the same pan until it’s cooked through and browned.  Remove it to a small bowl and set aside.

** Both the onions and sausage can be prepared up to one day ahead.  Store separately in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before using**

Grate the Manchego cheese and set aside in a small bowl.  Manchego is a wonderful Spanish cheese that tastes similar to a very mild Monterey Jack cheese.  Feel free to substitute one for the other if need be.

Prepare your barbeque grill – medium-high heat.  Get ready for some pizza!

When the dough is ready, split it into two halves and roll each half into 12×8 inch ovals.  Place both ovals onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets and take them out to the grill.  It’s really helpful to have a table next to the grill to work from. **If you are making the dough the day before, split it into two pieces and put them into two gallon-sized floured plastic bags, seal and refrigerate until ready to use.  If the dough rises too much in the bag – just deflate it and seal the bag up again.  Take the dough out of the refrigerator about an hour before you want to roll it and grill. **

Spray the top of one of the dough rounds with cooking spray and invert the dough onto the grill – sprayed side down.  Carefully spray the top of the dough with cooking spray while it grills – you don’t want to ignite a huge flame with the spray nor douse out the coals, so a light, careful hand is a must.  If this step worries you – simply brush a little oil on the dough instead.  It will only take about 5 minutes to cook this side of the dough.  Take a peek now and then to see if the bottom is looking dry and lightly browned with grill marks.

Make sure your toppings are ready and close at hand.

Carefully flip the dough back onto the baking sheet – this is definitely a two person job.  A couple of metal spatulas really come in handy for this move.

Start with sprinkling about ¾ cup cheese on the bottom of the crust.  Next sprinkle half of the onions and half of the sausage and then finish with another sprinkling of cheese – about ½ cup.

Slide the pizza back onto the grill, topping side up, cover the grill and cook until the crust is crisp and the cheese melts – about 5 minutes.  Slide back onto the baking sheet and cut into wedges to serve.  Repeat these steps to complete the second pizza.

Tah Dah!  Grilled pizza!  Throw together a quick garden salad and dinner is ready.

This pizza is great straight off the grill or at room temperature. We served it as a main dish, but it would be equally as good as an appetizer.   The toppings are full of flavor and taste amazing on the crisp, smoky whole grain crust.  Pizza on the grill – easy to prepare and keeps the heat outdoors.  Once you give it a try you’ll wonder why you haven’t done it before.    Enjoy!

Grilled Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Sausage and Manchego Cheese

Ingredients

Crust

Toppings

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large red onions, halved and thinly sliced
  • ½ cup dry red wine
  • 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¾ pound sweet Italian sausage – casings removed
  • 2 ½ cups coarsely shredded Manchego or Monterey Jack cheese

Instructions

Fill a small bowl with ¼ cup warm water and empty both packets of yeast into the bowl.  Add the sugar and stir to mix.  Let stand for about 8 minutes to allow the yeast to become very puffy.

Mix the flours, cornmeal and salt in a large bowl or food processor.  Add ¾ cup warm water, olive oil and yeast.  Mix just until dough has mostly come together into a ball.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead until it has come together into a more cohesive ball – not too soft, but not crumbly anymore either.  Put the dough into a bowl sprayed with cooking spray and turn to coat.  Cover the bowl and set aside to rise for about an hour or until the dough has about doubled in size.

**These steps can be competed in a bread machine set for 10 minutes on the dough cycle or run through on the pizza dough setting**

While the dough is rising, sauté onions in a large skillet with olive oil until soft and deep golden brown.  Stir frequently – about 10 minutes.  Add wine, vinegar and sugar.  Turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer until almost all of the liquid has been absorbed – about 4 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper and transfer to a small bowl.  Set aside.

Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel and sauté sausage until it’s cooked through and browned.  Crumble sausage with a fork or spatula as it cooks. Transfer to a medium-sized bowl and set aside.

**Onions and sausage can be completed the day before and refrigerated in separate containers.  Allow them to come to room temperature before using.  **

Coarsely grate the cheese and put into a medium-sized bowl.  Set aside.

When the dough is done, split it into two pieces and roll each into 12×8 inch ovals on a lightly floured countertop or pastry mat.  If making this dough a day ahead, before rolling, split dough into two pieces and refrigerate each ball in floured, gallon-sized plastic bags until needed.  Allow the dough to come to room temperature, about an hour, before rolling and grilling.

Transfer each rolled oval onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Spray the tops with cooking spray.

Prepare a barbeque – medium-high heat.

When the grill is ready, invert one of the dough ovals, sprayed side down, onto the grill.  Grill for about 5 minutes or until the crust is lightly browned and grill marks appear.  Spray or brush oil onto the top of the crust as it grills.  When it is finished cooking, flip it onto the baking sheet and top with ¾ cup cheese, half of the onions and half of the sausage. Top with ½ cup more cheese.

Slide crust back onto the grill, topping side up, cover the grill and cook for about 5 -8 more minutes or  until the crust is crispy and the cheese has melted.  Slide pizza onto a baking sheet and cut into pieces to serve.  Repeat steps for second crust.    Serve as a main dish or appetizer.

Adapted from Bon Appetit


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Author: Holly






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<...> your spatula. For more tips on transferring the pizza to the grill check out my previous pizza post Grilled Pizza with Caramelized Onions, Sausage and Cheese.  If your peaches are super juicy, put the cheese and prosciutto on the pizza first, grill it for <...>

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