Saturday’s Pizza on the Big Green Egg

I spent the day on Saturday at The Kitchen Shoppe hanging out with folks who were learning about the Big Green Egg.  I’ve written about the BGE in previous posts and believe I have explained that to call the BGE a grill is the understatement of the century.  Yes, you can grill on the BGE, but you can also do sooo much more – you can bake, smoke, and roast too.

On Saturday, I was cooking pizzas on the BGE.  My assignment from Dan, our BGE guru and my boss, was to do an INTERESTING pizza.  Other than those traditionalist who only eat their pizza with red sauce and cheese, the pizza was well received.  So much so that I was asked to post about it on the blog.

On the BGE

So here’s what I did:

  • The Dough – I used Gran Mugnano ’00’ flour in my old-favorite pizza dough recipe – Jimmy & Jeff’s Pizza Dough (see below)
  • The Toppings – Stonewall Kitchen’s Fig & Ginger Jam (replaced the sauce), julienned prosciutto, crumbled blue cheese, arugula (lightly dressed with olive oil, salt and pepper) and a few shavings of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • The Temperature – between 600 and 700 degrees F
  • The Tools – pizza peel coated with a healthy layer of corn meal, pizza lifter (like a giant, round spatula), pizza cutter
  • The Charcoal – a mix of Wicked Good Jake’s Blend and Big Green Egg
  • The Time – about 6 to 10 minutes – until the desired doneness is achieved

Before Being Fully Devoured

In addition to the pizza, folks who came out for the Big Green Egg lesson with Dan also ate pulled pork, spice rubbed chicken, BBQ salmon, and 1 1/2″ thick steaks cooked at 700 degrees F.

The food was delish, the weather was cooperative and the company was wonderful.  What’s your favorite pizza on the Big Green Egg?????


Jimmy & Jeff’s Pizza Dough

by mmm mmm mmm

Keywords: pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water (115 degrees F)
  • 3 cups “00” flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water (115 degrees F)

Instructions

Combine yeast and sugar in a bowl large enough to hold approximately 2 cups of liquid. Add 1/4 cup water, stir and let bloom (about 5 to 10 minutes).

While yeast blooms, place 3 cups of flour and 1 tsp sea salt in to bowl of a food processor. Whirl to blend.

After the yeast mixture blooms, add the honey, olive oil and 3/4 cup warm water. Stir with a whisk.

With the food processor running, add the yeast mixture through the feed tube.

Mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the work bowl and forms a ball.

Remove the dough from the food processor and knead for a few minutes to remove air bubbles. Dough should be soft and elastic.

Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

Let rise for several hours. The longer the better. You can let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator with great results.

After the first rise, punch the dough down, divide it in half, form each half into a ball and let it rise again for about an hour (or more if necessary).

Shape the dough and top it with your favorite ingredients.

Bake in a hot oven (500 degrees F) or cook on the grill.

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Monday MmmMmmMmm: Ribs Etc.

On days like today I think perhaps I should give up cooking!  No, I didn’t have a terrible cooking experience.  No, I’m not tired of cooking. So what happened?  Last night’s dinner reminded me that Jeff is a great cook and perhaps I should leave it all to him!!!  Don’t worry, I’m not serious about giving up cooking; but I am serious about Jeff being a great cook.

Yesterday was one of those days where Jeff devoted several hours to making an amazing dinner.  Because he had the day off yesterday, he began plotting his Monday culinary adventures over the weekend.  And I knew things would be going in a tasty direction when he returned from the grocery store with a beautiful rack of ribs.

Since I worked yesterday, I wasn’t privy to the whole process; however the end result gave me a pretty good idea of what went on in the kitchen (and on the deck) while I was gone.

I haven’t written too much about it, but I’ve posted many photos of foods cooking on the Big Green Egg on our deck.  “What is a Big Green Egg?” you ask.  Well, to say it is a grill is a gross understatement; although it IS a grill.  It can also be used to smoke foods and bake foods.  It can cook low and slow bbq and it can cook pizzas at 600+ degrees F.

The Big Green Egg uses lump charcoal as its fuel and air flow to control the temperature.  For more information on the Big Green EGG (BGE), visit Big Green Egg’s website.  The Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School is an authorized BGE dealer and teaches classes on BGE basics and cooking on the BGE.

As usual, I digress…..

What does the BGE have to do with my Monday MmmMmmMmm….everything!  As I was explaining earlier, Jeff made ribs last night and he combined what we learned in Texas about rubs for bbq and the low and slow power of the BGE to turn out some damn good ribs!

Because they cooked low and slow, they were sooooooo tender.  The meat literally fell right off the bone when you bit into it (or even before you bit into it).  The simple rub (salt, pepper and brown sugar) combined with the long cooking time created a delicious crust (a.k.a. bark).  When some people see the bark on bbq’d meats, they mistakenly think the meat has burned….not true.  For information on the science of bark formation, visit the post entitled What Is Bark, And Why It Makes Us Howl For More at AmazingRibs.com.  They explain ‘bark’ much better than I could!

To go with the ribs, Jeff busted out some left-over salad and made an enormous baked sweet potato, which we shared.  To say last night’s dinner was a Monday MmmMmmMmm is like saying the BGE is a grill – it’s an understatement!  Last night’s dinner was spectacular.  It was warm, comforting, nourishing, pleasing to the eye because of the variety of colors, pleasing to the nose because of the variety of aromas, and pleasing to the wife because she didn’t have to make it!

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Thanks for the Monday MmmMmmMmm, honey.  I just may decide to let you cook every night!!!

Pizza Dough: A Base for Yummy Toppings & for New Friendships

Throughout my life, I’ve developed friendships based on many things…..common hobbies, school ties, work, mutual friends, shared pain, serving together, love of dogs, etc….. But I have found over the past year and a half (or perhaps I’ve just reinforced what I already knew) that in addition to these things, food can be the base upon which friendships are built.

Through my work at The Kitchen Shoppe & Cooking School (TKSCS) I’ve come into contact with many people – some are like me and some are not.  Some I might not otherwise have had the opportunity to meet or get to know, others I would. But no matter the similarities or differences, I’ve developed some wonderful friendships and our common bond is food and the passion for creating the best food we can.

Recently, TKSCS held its 40th anniversary celebration – it was a full-day event that included cooking demonstrations, product specials and demos, food samples and learning opportunities for a wonderful product, the Big Green Egg (BGE).  Those of you who have heard of the BGE or who own one probably know that the BGE provides the basis for some unlikely friendships as well.  BGE enthusiasts, or Eggheads, have all kinds of fora (or forums) online for sharing BGE cooking experiences and recipes. People who might not otherwise have met or who might share nothing else in common interact with one another, sharing what they’ve learned and helping one another through sticky cooking/grilling/egging situations.

I have a BGE on my back deck, and over the last 6 months have dipped my toe in the water of the BGE experience.  One of the things I best love making on the BGE is pizza.  Although homemade pizza has been a staple in our house for years, pizza on the egg is relatively new.  And I have to say I can’t imagine making it any other way.  The BGE allows you to cook pizza at high temperatures (600 – 700 degrees F), which gives you a nice crisp crust, and it imparts a wonderfully smoky flavor to the pizza.  It’s fabulous!

So at the 40th anniversary celebration, I made pizza on the BGE for 8 hours.  What a great assignment.  I got to be outside in the beautiful spring weather while doing something I love.  My “station” was next to the band – the Buc Hill Aces – and near the BGE classes that were being offered throughout the day; so in addition to smelling my pizzas, I also got to enjoy the wonderful aromas wafting through the air from the classes.  The students were grilling hamburgers, steaks, chicken and shrimp.  It was a fiesta for the nose!!!

Throughout the day, many people commented on the pizza dough.  Those of you who have been reading for a while know that the dough recipe was given to Jeff by our long-time friend Jimmy.  Jeff tweaked the recipe through the years and finally entrusted me with it about a year ago (March 21, 2013 to be exact). While there is no magic in the recipe, it does have just the right combination of ingredients to produce a flavorful crust with a wonderful texture.

So for those of you who asked about the dough recipe, I am finally posting it on the blog. I hope you enjoy the recipe and that it becomes a mainstay in your pizza repertoire.  If you try it, please let me know how it turns out for you.

Jeff and I have made this recipe hundreds of times in the last 22 years and have never been disappointed.  We’ve learned things along the way and have sometimes had to make substitutions.  We’ve played with the recipe, adding new ingredients such as fresh herbs, whole wheat flour, flax seed, etc. – sometimes the results were good and sometimes not so much; but the basic dough is always a crowd pleaser.

I would highly recommend cooking your pizza on the BGE if you have the chance.  It really does produce a wonderful result.  And not only is the pizza great, but the aroma that wafts from your yard into the yard next door will be enough to get the neighbors interested in what you’re doing, which hopefully will spark conversations and, in turn, allow new friendships to blossom!  I have a sneaking suspicion, that sharing this recipe for pizza dough will be the base of some new friendships too!!!!

Keep an eye on my “Classes I’m Teaching” page. I’m working on my cooking classes for the fall and am planning a hands-on pizza making class, among others!

Jimmy & Jeff’s Pizza Dough

by mmm mmm mmm

Keywords: pizza

Ingredients

  • 1 package active dry yeast (2 tsp)
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup warm water (115 degrees F)
  • 3 cups “00” flour
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3/4 cup warm water (115 degrees F)

Instructions

Combine yeast and sugar in a bowl large enough to hold approximately 2 cups of liquid. Add 1/4 cup water, stir and let bloom (about 5 to 10 minutes).

While yeast blooms, place 3 cups of flour and 1 tsp sea salt in to bowl of a food processor. Whirl to blend.

After the yeast mixture blooms, add the honey, olive oil and 3/4 cup warm water. Stir with a whisk.

With the food processor running, add the yeast mixture through the feed tube.

Mix until the dough pulls away from the sides of the work bowl and forms a ball.

Remove the dough from the food processor and knead for a few minutes to remove air bubbles. Dough should be soft and elastic.

Shape dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

Let rise for several hours. The longer the better. You can let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator with great results.

After the first rise, punch the dough down, divide it in half, form each half into a ball and let it rise again for about an hour (or more if necessary).

Shape the dough and top it with your favorite ingredients.

Bake in a hot oven (500 degrees F) or cook on the grill.

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