Wined & Dined: Open-Fire Pizza


With temperatures topping 100 degrees in Northern California this week, I’ve officially retired my oven (and most other indoor cooking appliances) for the season in favor of staying cool sans central air.

Inspired by my little sister and tales of Girl Scout camp cooking (as well as a dangerous character known as nostalgia) we set out to make pizza the woodsy way–on an open fire in the forest.

Armed with several wines and a pile of dough, we tossed a feast onto the flames and enjoyed the extra layer of carbon you don’t get on the bottom of restaurant pizzas.

Our creations–combinations of chicken and tzatiki sauce, sausage, peppers, and salami–atop a loose grill over a moderate fire. Tin foil and half a can of cooking spray ensured the dough wouldn’t stick to the foil and make silverware necessary.

The worst part of wilderness pizza is that ours took about 30 minutes to cook, and some parts were still shockingly doughy.  Regardless, they were devoured.

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First, and thinnest was the Greek-inspired Chicken and Feta pizza–a tangy combo of dill-laden yogurt sauce, chicken, olives and cheese that went beautifully with Abesse de Loire 2014 Rosé. This pink juice from France’s Northernmost wine region was full of strawberry flavors and crisp, making this whole dish feel light and refreshing instead of cumbersome (like most pizza binges).  Cracker-thin, and tomato-free this type of pizza would also do well with well-chilled white wines like Sancerre or Muscadet, but with juicy reds the herbal flavors became dull and muddled.

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Fully embracing the decadence inherent in a wine-fueled bonfire pizza party, and the salami and peppers pizza was fantastic with Ramos Pintos Duas Quintas 2011 Reserva. This bold blend from the Douro region of Portugal had spicy, fruity flavors that accented the fennel-laced sausage, and its tannins helped mask the  rustic black patches on the curst.  Simply an inspired combination…It made us want to don sweatpants, put on Netflix, and not share with anyone.

T Next time, we might even camp out so we can have pizza for breakfast too.

Wood-fired Pizza Uncorked:

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Laura Loves: Tossing pre-made frozen pizza (Like Newman’s Own) straight onto a grill instead of in the oven.

This super easy pizza dough recipe.

Cooking on open fires!

Fun Facts: Americans spend $37 billion on pizza annually.

Portugal was the first country to legally define its wine regions, like the Douro.

EVERYONE is putting pizza on the grill this summer. (Herehere, and here.)

Do: Make a super-thin crust, which will help your pizza cook quickly and as evenly as possible.

Use cooking spray very, very, very liberally.

Check the top and bottom of the pizza for doneness to get the perfect chew:crunch ratio.

Have lots of wine choices! Dry rosés and fruity reds work best.

Don’t: Throw pizza directly onto flames–it turns out aluminum foil does burn, and so will your food.

Use lots of sauce–nobody likes a dry slice, but saucy pizzas get slimy on an open fire and end up hard to eat.

  • June 17, 2015
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