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Justin Bonello’s braai pizzas

posted on 29 June 2015 | posted in Braai


To celebrate the arrival of Justin Bonello's new book, Roads Less Travelled – The Ultimate Braai Master, we're sharing one of our favourite recipes from the book, Bertus Basson's braai pizzas. Italian food made the African way.

Braaied pizza

Way back, when I first started filming my show Cooked, I made a dustbin pizza for my crew before we hit Splashy Fen music festival in the southern Drakensberg. That was my attempt at a braaied pizza. In a 45-gallon metal drum on top of two unglazed terracotta tiles, I had a makeshift pizza oven that baked delicious pizza in less than 15 minutes. This time round, Bertus (a pro at simple and delicious food) made pizza straight on the braai grid. I had my doubts, especially after all the effort I went to making a pizza oven using a dustbin, but admittedly have to swallow my words. So try this if you don't have a dustbin lying around in your backyard. It's way simpler. I love learning new tricks like this. Bertus uses the same basic bread dough recipe that I've used for years, so I guess in the world of outdoor pizza we're even. Until next year…


For the best pizza dough, you'll need:

500g white bread flour
A big pinch of salt
10g yeast
325ml warm water

Combine the flour and salt in a large mixing bowl. Activate and dissolve the yeast by placing it in another bowl and adding the warm water. Give it a stir, and sprinkle a handful of flour over the mixture to prevent the yeast from forming a crust. Leave the yeast mixture in a warm spot for about ten minutes or until it begins to froth and gradually add it to the flour, mixing it well until it forms a dough. The only way to do this is with your hands. If the dough is too sticky, add a bit more flour; if it's too dry, add a splash more water, and so on. Knead for ten minutes until the dough has a smooth, elastic consistency. Sprinkle some flour onto your work surface, place the dough on the flour and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave the dough to rise for about 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

Sprinkle some flour on a clean working surface and tear off a fist-sized piece of dough. Using your fingers or a rolling pin (or a bottle of wine) roll the dough out into your preferred size and shape – keeping in mind it can't be bigger than your braai grid. The border can be slightly thicker if you like a thick crust pizza.

Bertus didn't do a tomato base, but used olive oil and sliced garlic instead.

This is Bertus's favourite topping, but the possibilities are endless, so go wild.

You'll need:

Olive oil, mixed with about 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
Mozzarella, sliced
Red onion, thinly sliced
Cherry tomatoes, halved
Slices of Parma ham
Fresh basil
Parmesan shavings
Salt and cracked black pepper

Take the pizza base and put it on a grid over moderate coals. Braai the base for a couple of minutes, or until the bottom is crispy and golden and the top starts bubbling. Flip the base over and brush the top with the garlicky olive oil. Take out a couple of the garlic slices and arrange them on top of the pizza.

Next, scatter sliced mozzarella on the base – as much as you like. Reduce the heat of your coals slightly by scraping some to the side – the slow heat will give the mozzarella time to melt without burning the bottom of the pizza. Go ahead and drizzle some more garlicky olive oil onto the pizza, then once the cheese has melted, remove the pizza from the heat.

Top with red onion, tomatoes, Parma ham, basil, rocket, Parmesan shavings and season with salt and black pepper.

Cut into odd-sized slices and let your friends dig in (once you've had your slice). Then let them each make their own pizza.

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