May 28, 2009

Grilled Focaccia


I got a gas grill for my birthday and I have been grilling like it's my job! I think half the reason I wanted one was to make grilled focaccia, one of my favorite Brenna creations. I have made it three times in the past week, twice for friends. It's great because you can customize the toppings based on who you're feeding and it's so fun and easy to assemble them-- a perfect summer meal. When my sister makes the dough, she lets it go through all the rising cycles, then freezes it in balls in the freezer so that any day she wants to make grilled focaccia she only needs to thaw the dough and is ready to go. I'm going to try to always have some in my freezer this summer, too. Oh-- the other great thing is that this dough is just made in a stand mixer with the dough hook.
Focaccia Dough:
2 C water
2 T olive oil
1 T salt
1 1/2 t yeast
5 1/2 C flour

Mix water, oil, yeast, flour, and salt in a bowl in that order in a stand mixer on low speed ("Stir") with dough hook until it makes a ball. Feel the dough then. It should feel soft but not sticky or stiff. If it feels sticky, add flour and stir some more. If it feels stiff, add a little water and stir some more; it will take a minute, but the water will work itself into the dough.

When it feels nice, turn up the mixer a notch or two (to speed 2 or 4 on mine, I can't remember), and let it mix for a full minute to develop. Then pick the dough ball up out of the bowl, spray the bowl, and replace the dough into it to rise. Let rise one hour.

Fold the dough over on itself (instead of "punching" it), and let rise one more hour.

Cut the ball into 2 balls (or 4 tiny ones, or leave it as one huge one), and wrap each in plastic wrap and freeze-- or, if using immediately, cover and let rest 20 minutes and then use.

Heat gas grill to fairly high (heat all the way so it's good and hot, then turn down just a bit).

Pat each ball of dough out gently on a floured cutting board. Don't try to make it too thin, or work too hard to stretch it. (I've been cutting each recipe into two balls, so with a ball of dough that size, I find it's perfect if I pat it out to just smaller than the size of the board it's on.)

Thoroughly brush the top surface with olive oil, then generously season with salt and pepper.

Carry the whole board out to your grill. Pick up the dough quickly/gently with both hands and plop it oiled-side-down directly on your grill. Let it grill for about 3 minutes on that side while you thoroughly oil and generously season the top side. When the bottom side is cooked and slightly browned, grasp the focaccia with tongs (I think two pairs, one in each hand, works well) and flip it over on your grill.

If you want, brush with a little olive oil to mosten the top, then quickly top with whatever toppings you desire (see below for ideas) and close the grill for a couple minutes in order to finish cooking the bottom side and to soften/melt any cheese or toppings.

With a pair of tongs, slide the finished flatbread directly back onto its board, place the whole board on your table, and cut into squares with a big knife.

Topping Ideas:
(The possibilities are endless. Perhaps our favorite is the classic tomato-basil-mozz, but Bren and I (mostly her) brainstormed these other ideas.)
  • sliced pear (or peaches) and brie (I LOVE this one)
  • caramelized onions and brie
  • cheese steak: caramelized onions and peppers and steak sliced against the grain on the focaccia, then drizzled after it comes off the grill with melted combination of mozzarella, cream, s, p, and dash of hot sauce
  • goat cheese, roasted red pepper, fresh spinach
  • sausage, pepperoni, mozzarella
  • sliced meatloaf, barbecue sauce, cheddar
  • pastrami, sauerkraut, then drizzled with thousand-island dressing when it comes off the grill
  • buffalo chicken, with chopped celery and bleu cheese dressing added when it's off the grill
  • artichokes, feta, olives, onions, tomatoes

1 comment:

  1. This summer we have been without a grill. Therefore, incredibly, we had gone until mid-July without once having this favorite of grilled summer meals, when I decided enough was enough. I decided to do it in the oven and it was a bit different but still oily, addictive, and still something we ate way too much of in one sitting. I oiled and seasoned the patted-out dough just like always, but put it on a rimmed baking sheet and baked at 425 just like pizza, then partway through when the bottom was thoroughly cooked I used tongs/spatula and flipped it to let the other side finish. Then I removed it from the oven, topped with toppings, and put back in the oven just long enough for the cheese to melt. So if you are without a grill this can still be had.