Kamado-Grilled Neapolitan Pizza

The Big Green Egg and other kamado-style grills get super hot, up to 800 degrees F (427 C). They’re typically made of ceramic, which is similar to the firebricks in a wood oven, so all in all, they make great pizza. Just be careful not to get them too hot or your crust will burn, especially on the bottom. With the high temperature and short bake time, Naples-style dough at 60% hydration works well, but I like the extra puff you get from a little more water in the dough, so I use Naples-style dough at 70 percent hydration.

Makes one 10- to 12-inch round pizza

  • 1 dough ball, preferably Naples dough at 70 percent hydration, about 270 grams/9.5 ounces
  • Toppings of your choice
  • Flour, for dusting

Let the dough warm up at room temperature for at least 1 hour or up to 4 hours. As it warms up, the dough will relax and become easier to shape.

Light the charcoal until it starts to glow red. Everyone has their favorite method. The fastest way is to use two chimney starters, each filled with 2 1/2 pounds of charcoal. Place wadded-up newspaper in the bottom, charcoal in the top, and then light the paper and the perforated cans will feed the fire with oxygen so the charcoal lights quickly.

Dump the glowing coals onto the coal grate of the cooker. Place the heat diffuser over the coals, then place the grill grate and/or upper rack in the cooker and a baking stone on the upper rack. A baking stone is preferred here over a baking steel. Steel tends to burn the bottom of the pizza due to the grill’s high heat and the steel’s ability to transfer heat so quickly. Close the lid and preheat the grill with the top and bottom vents open for 50 to 60 minutes. The ambient temperature (on the grill’s thermometer) should be 650 F to 750 F (343 C to 399 C). The cooking surface temperature should be about 600 F (316 C) when checked with an infrared thermometer through the top vent (to avoid opening the grill and losing heat).

Have your toppings ready to go.

To shape the dough: The goal is to stretch the dough to a 10- to 12-inch (25 to 30 cm) circle with an even thickness across the middle and a thicker rim around the edge. There are lots of ways. For 70% hydration dough, you’ll need a bit more flour and a gentler hand, since the dough is softer. It’s best to shape it completely on your work surface. The dough should be soft enough to stretch while it’s flat. If you try to pick it up, it may tear a hole. Generously flour a work surface and a wooden pizza peel. Use a dough scraper to scrape the dough ball from the tray to the floured surface. Gently poke your fingers about 1/2 inch from the edge of the dough ball all around it to begin forming the rim. The center should look thicker like a hat. Leave the rim alone and press your fingers and palm gently into the center of the hat, moving your fingers and thumb outward to begin stretching the dough away from the center. At this point, you should have a disk of dough about 5 inches in diameter. Slip one hand under the disk and quickly flip it over. Repeat the poking and pressing process on the other side, poking your fingers around the edge first to make the rim and then placing your palm on the center and gently stretching your fingers and thumb outward to stretch the dough from the center outward. As you work, gradually rotate the dough on the flour and keep your thumb against the rim to make the rim thick and round. The dough should be soft enough to continue this process until it is stretched to a 10- to 12-inch circle with an even thickness across the middle and a rim about 1/2 inch thick. If the dough tears a hole, patch it by pulling a little dough from one side of the hole and pressing it over the hole with your thumb.

Lay the stretched dough onto the floured peel. The easiest way is to simply drape it over the peel and then remove your hands from beneath the dough. Reshape the dough round as necessary, keeping the rim thick. Give the peel a quick shake to make sure the dough can slide easily.

Add your toppings. Give the peel another quick shake to make sure the dough slides easily.

To grill the pizza: Open the grill and quickly brush or blow off any ash from the cooking surface. Quickly shake and load the pizza onto the cooking surface and close the lid. Close the top vents to trap heat and send it to the top of the pizza. Keep the bottom vents fully open to feed the fire oxygen and keep it burning hot. Cook until the rim is puffed, the dough blisters and chars in spots, and the bottom is crisp, 4 to 6 minutes. The pizza should cook evenly so there is no need to rotate it. Check the doneness by shining a light (a cell phone light works well) through the top vent to avoid opening the grill during cooking.

Remove the pizza from the grill to a wire rack to cool for a minute or so, just to keep the steam from making the crust soggy. If you will be baking another pizza, quickly close the lid, reopen the top vents, and let the cooking surface recover its heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the pizza to a pizza pan or cutting board, slice, and add any finishing ingredients. I like 6 slices for this size pizza.

Reprinted with permission from Mastering Pizza, copyright 2018. Photography by Ed Anderson. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

“Mastering Pizza: The Art and Practice of Handmade Pizza, Focaccia, and Calzone” by Marc Vetri and David Joachim ($29.99).
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