Grilled Pineapple Pizza
Pizza friends are the best friends! A shared love of pizza ensures that when two of my closest friends and I get together, that we're very likely going to be spending our time indulging in hot pies. These two wonderful humans also get the credit for getting me to move to North Carolina, and on one of our earlier dinners as new neighbors, I offered to pick up some pizzas on the way to their house and they made me promise not to judge them when they gave me their order of a pizza topped with pineapple, red onion, and finished with a barbecue swirl. I really didn't have any qualms over their order, but if I had, they would have melted away quickly with one bite because that topping combo was indeed a winner. So when I hosted them for a backyard pizza party recently, it made sense to me to recreate that pie, but I added a few of my own touches to the formula by grilling the pineapple and adding pickled jalapeños, both elevating an already great pie even more.
One of my favorite, and least used, grilling accessories is my KettlePizza. I always wanted to build a pizza oven, but the KettlePizza has left me no need to since I can get it up to a temperature that can produce restaurant quality results. While I aspire to use it more often, when I do get it going, I make my pizza sessions count and try out a whole host of topping ideas as once. This time around I started by making a double batch of Kenji's Neapolitan dough, weighing the ingredients for accuracy and best results.
Besides the facts that the dough stretches really well and tastes great, one of my favorite aspects of the recipe is how easy it is to make. The need here is really time, not effort—after mixing the ingredients together, I just had to let the dough rise at room temperature for eight hours first, then divide it into individual portions and stick those in the fridge for two to four days more.
All that time results in a dough with a really nice lightly tangy flavor. The downtime is also great for allowing ample opportunity to leisurely put together the rest of components needed for a pizza party.
One of those things is almost always pizza sauce. I go back and forth between two sauce recipes, one that is a thinner and lighter sauce more apt for Neapolitan-style pies, and another thicker and more robust variation for heartier creations. The later seemed to be a more fitting choice for this particular topping combo that features heavy hitting flavors, so I whipped up a batch of it.
Pineapple certainly fits in that heavy hitting category in a number of ways. The debate over this fruit's acceptability as a topping will likely never die, but I'm in the camp that's ok with it. I don't think I'd ever order a pineapple-only pizza, but I like the way its sweetness contrasts with other toppers, especially spicy peppers.
I thought I'd give my pineapple a boost by grilling it, enhancing its sweetness, texture, and depth. I had my grill going for other things, so it was no big deal for me to toss some pineapple rings over the fire and quickly cook them until they were well browned and tender. If you're not into getting a fire going for the sole purpose of pineapple cooking, you could skip this step or caramelize it in a pan with a little oil on the stovetop.
Once the pineapple was done, I roughly chopped it and got the rest of the toppings in order—slicing a small red onion, grating the mozzarella, and grabbing my jar of pickled jalapeños. After getting the KettlePizza up and running with a combo of charcoal and wood, I stretched out the dough, spread on the sauce, and arranged the toppings.
Then into the KettlePizza it went, and being the first pie of the day, the fire was incredibly hot, probably clocking in at around 950°F. This had it cooking in just under three minutes, and also the crust charring very quickly—I like a bit of char on the crust, so I was personally happy about that. After the pizza was cooked, I removed it from the oven and squeezed on that important barbecue sauce swirl.
I'm sure glad my friends introduced me to this topping combo, and even happier I tried it at home and made some improvements, in my opinion. The sweet pineapple was a central focus, but it got good contrasts from the sharp and crunchy onions along with the spicy and tangy peppers. That created a well balanced flavor that was enhanced lightly by the complexity of barbecue sauce. Previously, I had only enjoyed this pineapple pizza in thicker crust scenarios and questioned whether it would translate well into a Neapolitan-style pie, but those worries faded as this light, airy, and flavorful crust continued to work its magic, just making the whole thing all the better. To keep content flowing on the blog and to satisfy my own creativity, I don't repeat my pizza creations that often, but this is one topping combo I feel like I'll need to bust out again and again just to spread its gospel.
Grilled Pineapple Pizza
- Yield 4 pies
- Prep 1 Hour
- Inactive 3 Days
- Cook 15 Minutes
- Total 3 Days 1 Hour 15 Minutes
- For the Dough
- 20 ounces (about 4 cups) bread flour, preferably Italian-style "OO"
- .4 ounces kosher salt (about 4 teaspoons)
- .3 ounces (about 2 teaspoons) instant yeast
- 13 ounces water
- For the Sauce
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh garlic (about 2 medium cloves)
- 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 3 15oz cans tomato sauce
- 1 6oz can tomato paste
- 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and quartered
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 3 tablespoon finely minced fresh basil
- 1 teaspoon sugar, plus more to taste
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- For the Pizza
- 1 small pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch slices
- 12oz mozzarella, grated
- 1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 1/3 cup pickled sliced jalapeños
- 1/2 cup your favorite barbecue sauce
- To make the dough: Combine flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl and whisk until homogenous. Add water and incorporate into flour using hands until no dry flour remains on bottom of bowl. Cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap and allow to rise at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.
- Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface and divide into four even balls. Place each in a covered quart-sized deli container or in a zipper-lock freezer bag. Place in refrigerator and allow to rise at least 2 more days, and up to 4.
- To make the sauce: Place olive oil, garlic, and crushed red pepper in a medium saucepan. Turn heat to medium. When bubbles begin forming around garlic, add in tomato sauce, tomato paste, onion, and oregano; stir to combine.Bring to simmer, then reduce heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens slightly, about 20 minutes. Stir basil and sugar. Season with additional sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Set aside or transfer to an airtight container and place in refrigerator until ready to use.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place pineapple wedges on the grill and cook, turning occasionally, until browned all over, about 8 minutes total. Transfer pineapple to a cutting board and cut into a medium dice.
- To make the pizza: 2 hours prior to cooking, remove dough from refrigerator, shape into balls, and allow to rest at room temperature, covered, for at least 2 hours before baking. Heat KettlePizza or pizza oven to 950°F. Alternatively, set a baking stone or Baking Steel on upper middle rack in oven and heat on highest setting possible for 45 minutes. Stretch dough into a 12" round. Spread on a layer of pizza sauce followed by mozzarella. Top with pineapple, jalapeños, and red onion to taste.
- Place pizza in pizza oven and cook for 2-3 minutes, rotating pizza for even cooking as necessary. Alternatively, place pizza on baking stone or steel in heated oven and cook until crust is baked through and mozzarella is melted, 7-10 minutes. Remove from oven, squeeze on a spiral of barbecue sauce, slice, and serve immediately. Repeat with remaining dough and ingredients.
Dough recipe by J. Kenji López-Alt