Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is a sort of last hurrah before the 40 days of fasting for Lent. Mardi Gras is a festive time of feathers, costumes, masks, colorful beads and lush foods. One of the many Mardi Gras traditions is “flambeaux,” meaning flame-torch, the tradition of people carrying shredded rope soaked in pitch through the streets so that nighttime revelers could enjoy festivities after dark. Crowds tossed coins or candies at the torch carriers for lighting the way for the floats.
A great way to celebrate Mardi Gras combines the “flambeaux” of a grill with the richness of prosciutto is Katie Workman’s deeply flavorful grilled pizza. Be sure to add the San Daniele prosciutto after the pizza is fully cooked to preserve the prosciutto’s superb flavor and texture! Here are Katie’s other tips on grilling pizza:
1. Let the dough “relax,” and handle it gently. Realizing that word relax is so alien to moms in general, in this case it should be interpreted as letting the dough rest, so that the gluten in the dough that has been activated by handling it or punching it down is given a chance to unclench, making the dough more pliable and supple.
2. Adjust the heat as needed. Watch the grill temperature. If it’s too hot, the pizza can scorch and if it’s too low it might stick or come out soggy.
3. Turning the crusts over after three minutes or so means that the firmed-up bottom becomes the top crust, and now you can layer on your sauce and cheese and toppings and not end up with an undercooked layer of dough underneath the toppings. Once the bottom crusts are ready to be turned over, you can do this right on the grill and add the sauce and toppings there or, if the heat is too much for you, turn them cooked side up onto oiled baking sheets, load on the toppings, and carefully transfer the pizzas back to the grill.
Smoked Mozzarella & Prosciutto di San Daniele Grilled Pizza
Adapted from Katie Workman’s The Mom 100 blog
1 ball (1 pound) store bought pizza dough
Olive oil, for coating the dough and baking sheets
Coarsely ground cornmeal or all-purpose flour, for rolling and stretching the dough
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded smoked mozzarella cheese
8 ounces finely sliced Prosciutto di San Daniele
Olives and oregano
Divide the dough into two balls, gently coat each with olive oil, and let the dough come to room temperature either in a large bowl or on the counter, covered with a dish towel, about 1 hour.
Lightly coat two baking sheets with olive oil. Sprinkle a work surface with cornmeal or flour. Gently begin to stretch or roll each ball of pizza dough into a 12- to 14-inch circle or a rectangular shape. You will need to stretch or roll the dough a bit, then give it a few minutes to relax before stretching it again, so that it doesn’t keep springing back into a smaller shape. The goal is to make the dough less than 1⁄4-inch thick (it puffs up on the grill). Give the dough one final stretch. Don’t worry about a small hole or two and definitely don’t worry about an uneven shape; that’s part of the pizzas’ charm. Transfer the shaped dough to the prepared baking sheets.
Preheat the grill to medium-high.
Brush the top of each stretched pizza dough with olive oil. Using a swift motion, pick up each circle or rectangle of dough by one edge and flip it oiled side down onto the grill grate. Close the grill lid and don’t open it for 3 minutes, which gives the dough a chance to rise a bit and firm up.
Open the lid, peek at the underside of the dough, and check to see that nice grill marks have formed. Lightly brush the uncooked tops of the crusts with olive oil and turn over each crust. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Carefully sprinkle the mozzarella evenly over each top.
Close the lid of the grill and let the pizzas cook for 4 minutes, then begin checking to see if they are done. The cheese should be completely melted and the crust should have a nicely browned underside and be stiff when you lift it with tongs.
Remove the pizzas from the grill, top with San Daniele prosciutto, olives and oregano.
About the author:
Katie Workman is a cook, a writer, a mother of two, an activist in hunger issues, and an enthusiastic advocate for family meals, which is the inspiration behind her two beloved cookbooks Dinner Solved! and The Mom 100 Cookbook, nominated for an IACP award and selected by Cooking Light as one of the best 100 books of the past 25 years.
Katie also writes the “Cooking on Deadline” column for AP, which reaches hundreds of thousands of readers a week. She is a regular columnist for Food Network, Eating Well and Cooking Light magazines and also writes for Every Day with Rachel Ray, Parents Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, thekitchn.com, Better Homes & Gardens, Food & Wine Magazine, and her own The Mom 100 Blog, which won the Blog Her Voices of the Year award in 2013. Katie co-founded Cookstr.com, where she acted as editor-in-chief and established the popular Cookstr weekly newsletter.