What Grilling Can Tell Us About Relationships

Peter has a problem.

He loves his Big Green Egg. He really does. But every time he tries to make pizza on it, the pizza sticks to both the pizza peel and the grill like none other.

(As a side note: Peter and his dad made the custom wooden cart holding the Big Green Egg. Peter has these metal letters that will go on the front that spell out “Egg Cartin’“. I’ll just let you sit on that one for a bit.)

He’s tried cornmeal. He’s tried flour. He’s tried super-high temperatures. The last time he made pizza, back when we were still in Connecticut, the pizza caught on the pizza peel and folded in on itself as he tried sliding it onto the Big Green Egg. It came out looking like an eviscerated calzone.

When we had our dinner party last week, Peter was determined to do it right. He’d read about using parchment paper to prevent sticking. How did it work? Beautifully! … until he took the pizza off the Egg and saw that the parchment paper had been reduced to charred flakes (none of which got on the pizza, thankfully). This solution was half-good.

Why am I telling you all this? Mostly because I want you to know how much Peter loves his Big Green Egg. Even in the face of a difficulty in the relationship between man and grill, he won’t give up trying. I am lucky to be married to such a man.

Speaking of pizza, I promised you an awesome pizza crust recipe in this post. Jessie promises, Jessie delivers!

I know the recipe looks long, but most of the directions describe how to stretch the dough. So give it a try!

The Best Rustic Pizza Dough Ever

  Prep Time: 1 hour

  Cook Time: 5 minutes

  Keywords: bake grill entree bread vegetarian vegan low-sodium

Ingredients (3 14-inch pizzas)

  • 2-1/4 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2-1/4 cups unbleached bread flour (we use a high-gluten flour from Restaurant Depot)
  • 1-3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or honey (optional)
  • 1-1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (for work surface)


Combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl. If using a mixer, use the paddle attachment and mix on the lowest speed for 1 minute. If mixing by hand, use a large spoon and stir for about 1 minute, until well blended. Add more water if needed. The dough should be coarse and slightly sticky. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to fully hydrate the flour.

Switch to the dough hook and mix on medium-low speed, or continue mixing by hand, for 2 to 3 minutes, until the dough is smooth but still soft, supple, and somewhere between tacky and sticky.

Spread 1 teaspoon of olive oil on a work surface. Transfer the dough to the oiled surface. Rub your hands with oil, then stretch and fold the dough one time by reaching under the front end of the dough, stretching it out, then folding it back onto the top of the dough. Do this from the back end and from each side, then flip the dough over and tuck it into a ball.

Divide the dough into as many pieces as you want pizzas (we made three pizzas about 14-inches across). Form each piece into a ball, then place on an oiled baking sheet and cover with plastic wrap (alternatively, wrap each piece in oiled plastic.

Refrigerate overnight or for up to 4 days, or in the freezer for several months.

Up to 90 minutes before you plan to bake the pizzas, place the dough balls on a lightly oiled work surface. With oiled hands, stretch and round each piece into a tight ball, then place them on a pan that’s been lightly oiled. Loosely cover with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature until ready to bake.

About 1 hour before baking, preheat the oven and baking stone as high as the oven will go. If you don’t have a stone, assemble the pizzas on baking sheets covered with parchment paper and bake them in the pans.

Coat one of the dough balls in flour and transfer to work surface. Gently tap it down with your fingers to form a disk. Slide the backs of your hands under the dough, then lift it and use your thumbs to coax the edges of the dough into a larger circle. If the dough starts to resist and shrink back, set it back on the floured surface and let it rest for a minute or two. Continue working the dough until it is 10 to 14 inches in diameter, depending on the number of dough balls you have. The edges should be thicker than the middle.

When the crust is ready to be topped, place it on the floured peel (or leave it on the baking sheet). [Note: Peter used parchment paper on the pizza peel instead of flour, because flour tend to scorch on the Big Green Egg. Guess what? Parchment paper scorches, too.] Top pizza as desired, then slide it onto the baking stone (or slide the baking sheet into the oven).

Bake for about 4 minutes, then use the peel or a spatula to rotate the pizza. It will take anywhere from 5 to 7 minutes for the pizza to fully bake, depending on the oven (convection ovens and the Big Green Egg bake faster). The edges should puff up and be a deep golden brown. Remove the pizza, then let it cool for 1 minute before slicing or serving.

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My favorite topping combinations include:

*Goat cheese, toasted pine nuts, caramelized onions, red pepper flakes
*Tomato sauce, mozz, basil, anchovies (not kidding – yum!)
*Fig jam, goat cheese, caramelized onion (variation of above)

Happy Tuesday!

Q: Any suggestions for Peter on how to keep his pizzas from sticking? I think his loyalty to the Big Green Egg will only go so far.

P.S. Remembering 9/11 …


  1. I have this problem sometimes. Usually if I dust the bottom very liberally with flour and then cormeal or semolina it turns out okay.

    I LOL’d at ‘egg cartin” that’s hilarious.

  2. I loved “egg cartin” too — and the fact that you’ll “let us sit on that one” for a while. Too cute! 🙂 (And Peter really does nice work — the cart is gorgeous!)

    Grilled pizza is soooo good! Love your topping ideas. What I like to do to prevent it from sticking is (carefully) brush a little oil on the grill grates once it’s hot (any oil that can hold up to high temps is fine), and also brush a light coating on the bottom of the pizza dough. Then I manually place the dough directly onto the grill rack, instead of using a peel. Sounds like a lot of work, but the good thing is I’ve never had it stick.

  3. Hooray for pizza! I’m not sure about the stickiness issue, but I do know that I love caramelized onions, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, pine nuts, and montasio cheese (amongst other things) on pizza. Though perhaps keeping things simple is best :-p

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  5. Jessie, you are back! Hope you guys are enjoying IL. Has Peter enjoyed teaching so far? It has been fun catching up on THIH! I have only one solution to the pizza problemo. Allie and I will roll out the dough as thin as possible and then precook it just enough to set the dough up. Then you can top it and it tends to not fall apart under the girth of toppings. I also find that this allows you to cook the dough more without overcooking the toppings. Not sure how this will translate to cooking on the Egg but that’s how we do it in the oven! Hope you guys are doing well out there!

    1. Hi Adam! Great to hear from you! I hope you and Allie are doing well up in good ol’ VT. I like your solution to the pizza dilemma. It’s one I’ve never heard before, and I can’t see why it wouldn’t work for the Egg as well. It’ll just take some planning, especially if we want a “girth of toppings”, which we certainly will!

      Stay well and give Allie a hug for us (and you as well!). 🙂

  6. Not sure if you’ve seen some of my FB photos, but G finally got his big green egg this summer. He was so excited when Costco started selling them. Like Peter, he is in love with the egg. Something I will never understand. Haha. I’m just happy he’s willing to cook some days.
    Anyways, LOL at the both of you and your “egg cartin”, “sit on that one” joke. You guys are adorable! Tell Peter he did an awesome job with the cart!!! I’ve been meaning to try making pizza on that, but G keeps telling me I need to get a pizza stone or brick or something. I think he’s just trying to prolong it b/c he doesn’t like pizza. Lol. One day though. So yeah, no non-sticking pizza advice from me. I gotta say though, that egg sure weighs a lot. Good on you both for moving that! We had troubles moving it from the garage to the backyard. Haha. Btw, does it really take 5 mins to cook a pizza? That’s what G told me. I still have my doubts and think it was his way of persuading me to let him buy the egg. Teehee. Hope Peter finds his solution. Take care!

    1. I missed the Big Green Egg! I’m glad G loves the Egg 🙂 I’m glad we have it, too, but like you, I don’t understand the complete fascination with it. You guys should definitely make pizza — tell G it’s essential in breaking in the Egg 😉 It really does take 5 minutes to bake a pizza on the Egg if you have the temperature hot enough, which take quite a bit of charcoal. Give it a try! 🙂

  7. I also use parchment paper for pizza’s on my egg. But after 2-3 min I slip the parchment paper out from underneath the pizza once the dough has started to crisp up.

    1. Thanks for the tip, Mike! We’ll give it a try.

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