If you have an outdoor barbecue grill with a cover that closes over the top of the grill, you can turn it into an outdoor oven. Why would you want to do that? To preclude the need to heat up your kitchen this summer to bake pizza, cookies, cakes, bread and casseroles. Or so you can expand your camping-out cooking repertoire.
GENERAL. You can bake nearly anything with a covered grill. If your grill doesn’t have a cover, improvise with a large inverted pot. The heat rises and circulates in the covered area just as it does in your oven. The heat source can be charcoal, gas, or even wood, however gas is preferable because it is easier to control and does not transfer a smoked taste to the baked items.
TEMPERATURE. This is the challenge. If your grill has a temperature gauge installed, you’re in luck. If not, you’ll need to get a small oven thermometer so you can more accurately regulate the inside temperature of your grill when it is closed.
PRE-HEAT. Always fire up the grill for a few minutes to set the temperature before baking.
GET BRICKS. When baking, never set the baking pan directly on the grill. Instead, set a brick or two as necessary on the grill, then the banking pan on top of the brick(s).
DON’T PEEK. As far as possible, do not lift that cover once you’ve closed it on your baking. You’ll need to watch the time carefully at first until you’ve experimented sufficiently to know how long things take to bake in your new outdoor “oven.” Just remember that opening that cover is like allowing an arctic storm to blow through.
PIZZA ON THE GRILL. You really can make pizza on your grill, provided you follow these instructions:
- Roll out the pizza dough to your desired thickness.
- Transfer the rolled crust to a pizza peel on which you have sprinkled corn meal to act as a release agent. (Think of corn meal as tiny ball bearings that roll the pizza of and onto the grill. Or you can use a cookie sheet that has no lip on at least one side. This will allow you to easily transfer the dough to your hot grill by allowing it to simple slide off the sheet or peel, if you have one.)
- Heat the grill.
- Moisten a paper towel with oil and rub the grates.
- Slide the dough onto the grill. Watch it carefully and when the bottom browns, turn the dough to grill the other side.
- Now you can add your sauce of choice, toppings and cheese.
- Close the cover to allow the toppings to cook and melt.
Alternative method. If you have a pizza stone (unglazed terra cotta tile works well and is a lot cheaper than a commercial pizza stone), you can lay this directly on the grill. Allow it to heat on Low heat to avoid cracking the stone. Once it is good and hot, slide the crust right onto the stone. Once browned, turn the crust over and proceed as above.
CLEANING TIP. Here’s a slick way to create a kind of self-cleaning feature on any barbecue grill. Place a few sheets of aluminum foil over the grill so you have several thicknesses. Crank up the heat to the hottest possible settings, close the cover and allow to heat for 30 minutes. Like the self-cleaning setting on your traditional over, this turns everything on the grill to ash.
Caution: Before attempting this, check your barbecue warranty to make sure this will not do anything to void a warranty that is still in effect.