Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Homemade Pizza

Making pizza is as American as apple pie! I learned the "art" of pizza making when I was 18 and got my first job at the Pizza Pub in Hartford, Wisconsin. I lived across the street from the Pizza Pub and the owner and his wife taught me how to prep and make the best pizzas in town. It all starts with a good crust, a good pizza stone, a very hot oven, and great ingredients. For me, it starts with a bread machine! So let's begin:

Pizza Dough (makes 2 14-16 inch pizzas)
12 oz. water (80 degrees)
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
4 cups of bread flour (any flour works, really)
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. bread machine yeast
1 tsp. Italian spice
1 tsp. granulated garlic

Place ingredients in bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer (all professional recipes say this, so I guess it's important) and use "dough cycle." Feel free to add a little extra olive oil to make sure dough doesn't "stick" to the sides of the pan. When dough is finished, remove from bread pan, knead for about a minute on a floured board, divide dough in half and then let it rest for about 15-20 minutes, covering dough so it doesn't dry out. While dough is resting, make pizza sauce.

Pizza Sauce
1/2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 large clove garlic, minced
14 1/2 oz can of tomato puree
6 oz. can tomato paste
1 Tbsp. dried oregano (crush herbs between palms to allow fragrance/flavor to release)
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. fennel
1/2 tsp. rosemary leaves
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

In a small saucepan, saute' garlic for 30 seconds in hot oil. Add the remaining ingredients and stir often to mix and keep from burning. Simmer for 20-30 minutes to blend flavors. Adjust seasoning to preference.

Chop all topping ingredients. I use onion, green pepper, black and green olives, fresh mushrooms, hot Italian sausage (pre-cooked and drained), pepperoni, 4 different cheeses (Parmesan, mozzarella, Mexican blend, and shredded sharp cheddar). Try Canadian bacon, shrimp, spinach, artichokes, hot peppers, or pineapple tidbits. You can pretty much use whatever you like to eat on pizza!

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

Put olive oil on pizza stone and roll out pizza dough on stone. Sprinkle granulated garlic, salt, and brush with olive oil. Par-bake dough in oven for 5-7 minutes. This makes your crust crisp on the bottom and makes sure your crust cooks completely. Take crust out of oven and set on a oven-safe pad to assemble pizza.

Spread about half of the pizza sauce on crust, sprinkle with freshly-grated Parmesan cheese and a thin layer of mozzarella cheese. Add onion, peppers, olives, mushrooms, sausage (or anything you like) on top of the cheese. Next cover pizza completely with another layer of cheese of your choice (I use a blend), top with pepperoni slices and sprinkle more Parmesan cheese on top. Bake for 10-11 minutes in middle of the oven. When brown and bubbly remove from oven and allow to "rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting.
Slice into 8 wedges and serve with an icy cold beer. Make second pizza the same way or par-bake the crust, cool and wrap up for pizza crust to enjoy pizza on another day (preferably tomorrow!) Bon Appetite!

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