Although this article will be published a few days after Feb. 9, it feels wrong to neglect national pizza day—especially as a contributing food columnist.
Though, in truth, every day (for me at least) feels like national pizza day. If you don’t wake up drooling over fresh cheese, secret sauce and dreamy dough, what do you wake up thinking of?
The biggest issue with my pizza addiction at Vassar is that come junior year, the options can start to feel limited. Don’t get me wrong, Bacio has always been there for me when I needed them (even at 4 a.m.) and Marcos always comes in clutch by throwing in some extra garlic knots, but I’m from New York so you can’t really blame my loyal taste buds for constantly craving some classic NY “za.”
Dealing with my addiction at school isn’t easy though. There comes a point when scrolling through food Instagram’s goes from motivational to plain old mean, which brings me to my favorite coping mechanism: cooking! Luckily for me, I’ve got some pretty hungry friends with some pretty humble kitchens (courtesy of the TAs and THs) to help ease the pain during some of my strongest withdrawals.
If any of this sounds familiar to you, it is important to know that you are not alone. Many students suffer from a lack of pizza in their lives which is why it our job to utilize the many accessible resources around us. For some, this addiction is easier to come to terms with than others, but it is crucial to note that there are available options and support systems that run around the clock to cure your cravings.
One of the most successful forms of treatment is often overseen, which is why it is time to resurrect the best kept secret for college students: pizza on the grill.
This therapeutic process begins with accepting that the grill is not limited to a traditional barbeque. In fact, the grill provides enough heat to cook up the perfect crunch in your crust that you’ve been missing.
And that’s not all— with the grill, your pizza experience is as personal as you make it down to the servings, toppings, techniques and so on. In the mood for a personal pizza? Do it. Overestimated your appetite? Freeze it. Prefer thin dough over thick? Roll it. It’s no surprise that so many addicts get hooked on the grill considering its execution eliminates nearly any and all excuses.
The road to recovery starts with strategy and like any treatment, is a process. When experts advise you to maintain a realistic mindset, they want you to consider the simplicity of your favorite slice in order to avoid sunken or soggy dough. Stay sane with the amount of toppings you pile on over no more than 1/4 of cup of marinara sauce for the classic 10-inch dish.
Dough-not worry about the dough–just because it is handmade doesn’t mean it has to be hard. In fact, the key is not expertise, but rather patience as you allow the ingredients to sit and dissolve into one another. When it comes to combining the yeast mixture with flour, slow and steady wins the race. Rather than kneading your dough rapidly, allow the speed to build at a gradual rate so your dough comes out with the perfect consistency.
After assembling your base, allow the dough to sit (anywhere from 1 to 2 hours) in a warm spot until it has risen twice from its original size.
Meanwhile, prepare your ingredients before gearing up the grill in addition to olive oil, paper towels and some tongs. Once the grill is hot, use your tongs to dip the paper towels in olive oil and completely smother the rack in it before positioning the dough.
After two to three minutes expect to see some big air bubbles as you rotate the dough for an even and consistent crust. When it is brown (but not burnt) use your tongs to transfer the dough onto a baking sheet so that the uncooked side is now exposed to the heat.
Finally, add a little more oil before the tomato sauce comes into play. After the sauce comes shreds and slices of cheese and toppings. At this point, the heat can be reduced as all the contributing ingredients melt into each other and the tongs transfer your pizza from the grill to the cutting board. Lastly, allow your pizza to cool in order to optimize the perfect crunch.
- 2 teaspoons active dry or fresh yeast
- 1 cup warm water
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3/4 cup marinara sauce (fresh or canned tomatoes)
- 6 ounces shredded or sliced fresh mozzarella
- Fresh basil leaves
- Additional toppings