recipe-ish: homemade pizza
I've been wanting to make this for a while. My own pizza. Totally from scratch. Make the dough. Make the sauce. Practically milk the cow and make the cheese. Last night, I had my chance. I found a random packet of pizza dough yeast and considered it my calling to make homemade pizza. Here's how it went.
I go into this with a vague idea how to make everything and just a handful of ingredients.
First, I begin my prep. I chop maybe 1/8 of a large onion and two cloves of garlic. I prepare two large tomatoes for blanching, just to get the skin off of it.
The back of the packet suggests 1 1/2 cup to 2 cups of flour. How precise. I use two cups because all I had left was bread flour. What's the worst that could happen?
For me, I love spicy. So I continue my prep by chopping up three small peppers. I also know I want bacon and mushrooms as my toppings. Chop, chop.
Cheese-wise, I wish I had some standard mozerella, but I don't. All I have is a block of parmesiano-reggiano and some mystery "pizza blend" (which is probably my roommate's). Eh, I grate some parmesan. The cheese is kind of a formality in all this any way. The flavor will come from the sauce.
I start on the sauce first. I sautee onions in olive oil over medium heat until they are translucent.
I add a bay leaf, the peppers and the garlic and heat for another minute or so.
By now, I've blanched my tomatoes... meaning, I've cut an "x" on the bottom in the skin, boiled them in hot water for 5 minutes and put them in ice water for another 5 minutes. Skin comes right off. I chop them up and put them in the pan. I season with dried basil, oregano, kosher salt and cracked black pepper. This will simmer for 15 minutes on medium low heat.
While that simmers, it's time to make the dough. I combine one envelop of yeast, 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of sugar, 3/4 teaspoon of salt, and one cup of the flour. Then, I slowly add 2/3 cup of warm, warm water (these are the directions on the back of the yeast packet; you, of course, would follow your own yeast instructions). It forms easily into a sticky wad of dough.
I add more flour as I knead it and even more to roll it out on a clean surface. When it looks as good as it gets, I transfer it to the only pan I can find, a metal 9 by 13 incher.
Give the dough a nice rub down with olive oil and then sprinkle with some of the parmesan. I think I saw somewhere that it's good to put the cheese on first.
Meanwhile, 15 minutes is up, and I take the tomato sauce off the heat. I remove the bay leaf and puree the sauce so that it's smooth. Now that the dough is ready, I pour the sauce over the dough (any leftovers make great sauce to be tossed in pasta). First layer is chopped uncooked bacon. Second layer is more cheese. Third layer is mushrooms.
Into the oven for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.
As the crust gets golden brown and your house smells like a pizzaria, it's time to take it out.
You bite into this, and you get layers of flavor. The sauce is pièce de résistance. The sauce holds all the spices: the peppers, the oregano, the basil, the onions, the garlic, etc. Then my bacon, since it's applewood-smoked, provides this sweetness that's hidden in the sauce. The cheese takes a back seat and holds the whole operation together. And the crust? Whoa. Using the bread flour makes it full-figured. It's an inch thick around the sides, half an inch in the middle.
I'm not going to pretend that everybody has time to make their own pizza. This project took most of the afternoon, and it would have been easier to call Chicho's. But if you do decide to make pizza on your own, it's well worth the trouble.