Though he speaks with a decided Austrian accent, today's Famous Fridays honoree, Wolfgang Puck, has been one of the most influential American chefs for the last 40 years! He's probably best known as the creator and force behind the world renowned and award-winning CA restaurant Spago, but this is only the tip of the iceberg for this energetic and visionary man. In addition, he's launched 15 more successful restaurants around the globe, with spots in Las Vegas, Disney World, London and Singapore, etc, has won an Emmy for his cooking show Wolfgang Puck, authored 6 cookbooks to date and been inducted into the Culinary Hall of Fame! One of his greatest culinary contributions is gourmet pizza and that's what I'm featuring today. If you've always been tempted to make your own at home but never found the nerve, this is the recipe to try! We are extremely picky pizza people and to say we LOVED this, is the understatement of the year!
If you live in New York (as I do) you're surrounded by amazing pizza and there's little need to make your own when you can buy pizza that tastes 10 times better. Or so I thought. I came to this amazing creation because my son Simon and his girlfriend Lauren, who are in college in California and couldn't find any good pizza, were driven by absolute pizza need to make their own and they raved about it. So naturally I had to try it and WOW! I was completely blown away too, by the deliciousness of this...and the ease with how it all comes together! Plus it's a really fun dinner!
You start by making Wolfgang's famous dough, which happily gets all mixed together in the food processor. And though it takes a few hours of rising time, there's very little hands-on time. Except when you're kneading the dough...that's when you "knead" those hands a lot!
The other great thing about the dough is that it doubles well and also freezes extremely well too. Once you divide it into pieces, you can freeze it in individual freezer bags that you just thaw in the refrigerator overnight. so that you can have fresh dough on hand whenever you like.
You just roll it out as many balls of dough as necessary, placing them on a lightly oiled pan--
Because they're so delightfully thin, these cook up in a matter of minutes, so it's critical that you have all your ingredients prepped and ready to go right by the grill. There's no multi-tasking allowed here! Once that pizza hits the grill you have to give it your full attention so that what you wind up with is a wonderfully chewy, crispy, slightly charred crust topped with melted cheese and barely cooked tomatoes, basil and garlic. Mmmn...you won't believe you were able to make a pizza that tastes this good at home!
Wolfgang is famous for his smoked salmon and caviar pies, but that wouldn't fly in my house. We alternate between this fresh tomato pie and the more traditional tomato sauce pie, often topped with mushroom and onion--no matter what, it's amazing!
So if you're looking for something a little different to grill this weekend, give Wolfie's signature dish a try and fire up that outdoor pizza grill of your own--you'll be thrilled with the results! Have a fun and tasty weekend everyone!
Wolfgang Puck's Fresh Tomato Grilled Pizza-Famous Fridays
One batch of dough makes 4 small pizzas--I usually make 2 or 3 to feed a family of 4 that includes one very hungry 17 year-old boy.
Prep Time: 25 minutes (for dough), plus several hours of rising; Cook Time: 5-10 minutes
For the Pizza Dough
- 1 package active dry or fresh yeast
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 cup warm water, 105-115ºF, divided
- 3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing pizza and grill
For the Toppings
- Several ripe tomatoes, sliced
- 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped finely
- Shredded or sliced mozzarella (I usually use about 1 pound but you can use more/less depending on how cheesy you like the pizza)
- Fresh parmesan, grated (I do this entirely by eye but I probably use about 2-3 tablespoons per pizza)
- Chopped fresh basil
- Any additional vegetables like peppers, onion, mushrooms and tomato sauce (if you want to make this a more traditional pie) are optional
1. For the dough: First dissolve the yeast and honey in 1/4 cup of the warm water.
2. Into the bowl of the food processor, place the flour and salt and pulse a few times to combine. Add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the yeast mixture and the remaining 3/4 cup water and process until a ball forms. If you don't have a food processor, you can also use an electric mixer with a dough hook. Mix everything on low speed until the dough comes away cleanly from the sides and starts to climb up the dough hook.
3. Turn the dough out onto a clean flat surface (I use a wooden board) and knead by hand for 2-3 minutes until the dough is smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a clean, slightly damp towel and let rise in a cool spot for about 2 hours. The dough is ready if it looks doubled in size and stretches as it is lightly pulled.
4. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces and roll into balls--if you have a kitchen scale, they weigh about 6 ounces each. Take one ball at a time in your hand and pull down the sides and tuck them under the bottom of the ball. Do this about 5 times and then place the ball back down on the flat surface and roll it under the palm of your hand for about 1 minute, until the top of the dough is smooth and firm. Repeat the entire process with all the balls of dough, placing the balls at least a few inches apart on the flat surface after the final step. Cover again with the damp towel and let sit for 1 hour.
5. At this point you can either proceed to Step 6 and begin cooking the pizza or you can refrigerate or freeze the dough to use at a later point. I like to lightly spray the inside of a quart size resealable plastic bag with non-stick cooking spray before placing 1 ball of dough inside each one. It makes it really easy to remove when you defrost, but you can also just wrap each ball individually in plastic wrap. Dough keeps wrapped in the fridge for 2 days or frozen for at least one month. To defrost, simply place frozen pizza dough in the refrigerator overnight or leave out on the counter for several hours.
6. When you're ready to make the pizza, lightly grease a baking pan or two with olive oil. Stretch or press each piece of dough out to a large rectangle or oval. You want these to be thin, but not paper thin or they'll burn on the grill. Set aside.
7. Turn on the grill outside to preheat. Now you want to make sure all your ingredients are prepped and ready to go right beside the barbecue grill, including a set of tongs and a large metal spatula. (I like to place the toppings in small bowls on a tray so that I have them all on hand in one place)
8. Lightly brush the sretched-out pizza dough with olive oil. Now use two hands to grab the pizza dough and quickly transfer it to the grill. Close the grill and let it cook for about 2 minutes. When the dough starts to bubble on the top, use your tongs to check the bottom to see if it has grill marks. You want it to brown, but not burn. If it looks like it's getting dark too quickly, turn the heat of the grill down. When the dough looks ready, use the tongs to flip it over. Now you have to work quickly. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese all over the surface. Then arrange the tomatoes and sprinkle the garlic, basil and parmesan cheese all over. Close the grill and let the pizza cook for another 2-3 minutes so that the cheese has time to melt. When it looks ready, use the tongs to quickly remove the pizza to a tray, cut into slices and serve immediately! Repeat with any remaining dough. If you're using tomato sauce, that should go on first, topped with the cheese and other ingredients.
9. Leftover pizza can be reheated in a 350ºF oven but is best eaten right after it's made.
10. Dough recipe doubles wonderfully and is easy to do.
Note: Recipe for dough adapted from http://www.wolfgangpuck.com/recipes/pizza/All-Purpose-Pizza-Dough. Recipe for toppings inspired by many wonderful pizzas I have eaten in my life!