I took today off. Both figuratively and literally. I blew off writing a post about our Independence Day celebration, spent the day assisting gravity in holding down the couch, and took a long nap in the afternoon. And then I was asked to cook pizza. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, the pizza dough had other ideas. It was purchased last Thursday and had plenty of time to prepare its nefarious plan to screw up a perfectly lazy day.
But before I get into that, I must first do justice to yesterday’s celebration, or at least the meal. First up on the menu was pulled pork. The butts were rubbed using the usual method and went on the WSM about 01:30. For those of you not familiar with military time notation, that’s 1:30 in the morning. This is what happens when you get home and discover that your butts haven’t fully thawed while you were out taking movies of Pigdog choking his chicken. So in other words, another night of staying up late while temperatures settled in on the WSM. Fortunately, it only took about an hour to convince me they were dialed in so I could go to bed. The next morning when I went out to check them they looked like this.
About noon they were taken off, wrapped in foil, and deposited in a cooler to set and rest until I got around to pulling them. As soon as that was done, the grill was scraped, charcoal added, and on went the boneless skinless thighs for pulled chicken. About two hours later they were ready to be taken off.
In the house they went, the vents on the WSM were opened wide, and on went the hotdogs. They don’t seem to get a lot of the smoke flavor, but no need to waste a perfectly good set of lit coals.
While the hotdogs were cooking, the pork and chicken were being pulled and prepped for delivery. At 16:30, off we went for food, family, friends, fun, and fireworks. The meat spread took up a counter by itself.
A good time was had by all, no calls to 911 were logged, and it appears Pigdog’s brother’s house was still intact when we left late last night. I’ll have to go back one of these days soon and check, or at least I will if I want to get back the two sets of tongs I left behind. No one was chasing after me as we left, so it should be safe to go over there again soon…
Now back to the pizza dough conspiracy. Those three doughs had several days in the refrigerator to change their consistency from dough that could be handled relatively easily into something that resembled living glue. To add insult to injury, they sat lurking on their plates laughing at me while I prepped everything else so I wouldn’t have to work so hard in between pizzas while everyone else sits around and eats. All the toppings were ready for three pizzas (one pulled pork, cashew, pineapple, and fresh mozzarella on No Butz sauce, one sun-dried tomato, mozzarella, and fresh basil, and one peach dessert pizza) when they sprung their ugly surprise.
SWMBO had warned me to put some oil on my hands before handling the dough as “it was a bit moist”. Since I mostly listen to her, I went one step further and put on some nitrile gloves. I grabbed the first dough and was suddenly locked in a death battle with the glue creature from hell. After about five minutes of wresting with this beast and cursing like a sailor, I finally managed to extricate myself from its clutches and fling it into the compost bucket. Pizza dough 1, Zydecopaws 0.
I lost the gloves during the battle with the first dough, so I oiled up my hands, gave the kitchen and the second dough a dusting of flour, and commenced to engage in battle again. Pretty much with the same results as the first time around, only this time the dough was stuck to me instead of gloves I could remove. With the assistance of the faucet, I was once again able to escape the pizza dough version of a Chinese finger trap and send the offender to join its brother in the compost. May it rot in, well, the back yard. Pizza dough 2, Zydecopaws 0.
So now I am faced with a whole wheat pizza dough attempting to look innocent while sitting on a kitchen counter that is covered in flour. And another counter full of prepped pizza toppings. And a shutout in the works. Then I recalled something my dentist told me when I was there last week that had nothing to do with dental hygiene. I had mentioned doing pizzas on the grill and he told me that his kids really like it when he gets Indian nan or Middle Eastern flatbread and makes individual pizzas using those as dough. As it turns out, I had purchased some of both while at TJ’s last week so that I could try out his suggestion, and off to the recently-defrosted freezer I went to dig them out.
The Middle Eastern flatbread was up first, and was the recipient of the pulled pork combination of toppings. Six pizzas were made in two settings; here’s one of them right before being removed from the grill.
The cheese sort of ran off the edges as the pan wasn’t quite level on the foil balls I used to pick it up off the cast iron grate in Bubba Ho-Keg. But the pizzas were darn good, especially with the No Butz sauce as a base. The nice thing about using the No Butz is that a little goes a long way as the flavor is so pronounced. Pizza dough 2, Zydecopaws 1, no more shutout…
The nan (garlic flavored) was then used as a base for the sun-dried tomato version. This time I was able to make a full one for each of us on a single pan.
The oil from the tomatoes and cheese ran off on the pan, and I poured it off into Bubba Ho-Keg before bringing the pizzas in the house. Nothing like some 3-foot flames from the grill to finish off the holiday weekend…
The score was now even, and the pizza doughs were on the ropes as I had momentum on my side, and food in my belly. The thinking cap had been on all during the rest of the meal, and it was time to take on the whole wheat dough. Armed with an oiled pan, a large handful of flour, and an attitude, I coaxed the dough off the plate and directly onto the pizza pan with as little skin contact as possible. From there it was pushed out to the edges of the pan; no attempt was ever made to toss it. Melted butter was brushed on the top, it was sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, and on the grill it went. Five minutes later it was baked into an elephant ear-like submission.
Off the grill it came and was topped with a mixture of cream cheese, honey, and vanilla, then a layer of sliced fresh peaches. Back on the grill it went for another three minutes, and then it was time for dessert.
Winner in overtime, Zydecopaws by a score of 3-2. And I plan on making sure I have a stock of nan and flatbread on hand for when the family goes on vacation and leaves me with the dog. Those individual size pizzas were very good and a darn sight easier than wrestling with soggy dough. Oh, and thanks for the idea Dr. Mike!