Recipe: Grilled Pizza With Tomato Sauce, Cheese and Smoked Sausage

They don’t look especially inviting. Stashed next to the cheese in the refrigerated deli case, the satchels of pizza dough look like sad little bags of putty.

But pretty is as pretty does. What they lack in glamour, they more than make up for in time-saving convenience. For 99 cents, that dough can make homemade pizza a snap, especially if those pies are grilled on the barbecue.

The prepared dough is available plain, or spiked with herbs and garlic. One package makes two 8- to 9-inch pizzas.

Yes, you purists out there, I can hear your words in my noggin. I know it isn’t difficult to make the dough from scratch. And I think it’s great if you want to do the yeast-flour dance. In fact, I will include a recipe for pizza dough in this story. It takes about 2 1/2 hours from start to finish.

You have my blessings.

For me, when it’s hot outside (and inside my kitchen), there’s a real feeling of accomplishment when I can produce something absolutely delicious without much work. The notion of teaming prepared dough and the barbecue to create great pizza is irresistible.

Grilling a pizza takes about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on the heat of the fire. The technique creates an appealing crust that is crisp on the outside and a little chewy on the inside. And the topping possibilities are practically endless.

The technique for grilling pizza isn’t complicated. Start by pushing dough (to a thickness of a little less than 1/4-inch) on a piece of oiled parchment paper. It’s not important that it be perfectly round; go for an informal irregular shape.

Brush the top of the dough with a little oil then invert it onto a heated, oiled barbecue grate. Grill until the dough is just starting to brown, covered, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Open the grill and remove parchment and rotate dough, moving to a cooler spot if necessary. When it’s nicely browned on the bottom, brush the top of the dough with oil and turn it over using a wide spatula. Place toppings on cooked side (which is now the top).

Cover and continue to cook until bottom of crust is brown and toppings are hot, checking frequently.

These dandy pizzas can be the centerpiece of a party. Guests can select their own toppings and create signature pizzas. And everyone will have fun in the process.

Grilled Pizza With Tomato Sauce, Cheese and Smoked Sausage

Yield: two 8- to 9-inch pizzas, about 12-16 wedges

Extra-virgin olive oil for brushing dough and parchment paper

2 (12-inch) squares of parchment paper

1 (16-ounce) package refrigerated pizza dough (dough with herbs and garlic preferred, if it’s available)

About 2/3 cup thick tomato sauce or pizza sauce; divided use

1/2 cup diced, fully cooked smoked sausage, such as chicken with apples; divided use

About ‚ cup grated mozzarella cheese or mixture of grated Italian cheeses, such as Parmesan, fontina, Asiago and provolone (such as Trader Joe’s Quattro Formaggio)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil; divided use

Prepare a two-zone fire for medium heat if using charcoal grill. If using gas grill, heat to medium, leaving one area of grill with heat off.

Brush parchment squares with olive oil. Cut dough in half and place each half on an oiled parchment square. Use fingers to flatten each, pressing to create an 8- to 9-inch “round.”

Brush clean grill grate with olive oil. You can cook two crusts at once, but it is easier to start out with just one. Place dough on oiled grate over direct heat, parchment side up.

Leave parchment in place and close lid. Grill about 1 to 2 minutes. Open grill and remove (and discard) parchment. Give crust a quarter turn, checking to make sure it isn’t getting too brown. If necessary, move it to a cooler spot on grill. Keep lid closed as much as possible, until crust is well-marked and firm on the underside, a total of 2 to 5 minutes, rotating as needed for even cooking. Turn crust over.

If working with just one crust at a time, you can leave it on the grill and quickly add toppings. If working with more than one, remove to a baking sheet and add topping, then return it to grill.

Spread about 1/4 to 1/3 cup pizza sauce over surface, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edge. Scatter half of diced sausage and half of grated cheese on top of sauce.

Grill over direct heat with lid on as much as possible, until cheese melts and bottom of crust is crisp, 2 to 5 minutes, rotating pizza occasionally for even cooking.

Transfer to cutting board. Brush edges with oil and garnish with basil. Cut into wedges. Repeat with second piece of dough. Serve warm.

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