Pizza, unprocessed

October 2, 2018

Ready to go into the oven

So here’s how you unprocess a pizza. First, you see proscuitto at a good price at Aldi, and you buy a package, never mind you have four in the freezer at home, and you think to yourself, “Self? That’d be fine on a pizza!)

And self agrees it most assuredly would. So you and self set about buying mozzarella cheese, as well, because you don’t know if you have any or not, and when you get home, you make pizza dough.

Pizza dough is about the easiest bread product one can make. One puts a cup and a quarter of warm water, a teaspoon of sugar, and a tablespoon of yeast into the bowl of one’s stand mixer. Then one adds 4 1/2 cups of flour, about a teaspoon and a half of salt, and a quarter cup of olive oil and mixes it with the dough hook until it’s fairly soft and satiny, and not sticky. I’d guess I kneaded mine maybe five minutes after all the flour was incorporated.

Then one oils another bowl, forms the dough into a ball, turns it over in the oil to coat it, and sticks it in one’s CSO on steam at 100 degrees to rise for an hour. One can certainly let it rise in a barely-warm oven, or on the back of the stove, or any other relatively warm spot in the house. One can even put it in a couple of oiled gallon zip-locks in the fridge and let it rise there overnight.

This will make enough dough for two medium pizzas, or two medium calzones, or two medium pans of breadsticks, or, in general, two meals’ worth of whatever you want to use it for. It’s a very versatile dough. I make it a little more moist and call it foccacia, put it in a round pan and poke olives or onions into the top, drizzle some oil and sprinkle some crunchy salt. But I digress.

Then you turn your hand to sauce. I went with a half-pint of home-canned tomato sauce, which I cooked with some sauteed onion and garlic just to cook it down and thicken it a bit — maybe 20 minutes on medium. To it I added about two tablespoons of chopped fresh herbs — thyme, oregano, basil, and a sprinkle of salt and black pepper — and let them simmer in the sauce. I turned off the heat and let it sit and cool, and then I whizzed it up with an immersion blender. 

Then it was topping time. I grated some mozzarella, cubed up some fresh mozzarella, and grated some parmigiano. I took four or five slices of proscuitto and sliced them up in about inch-wide slices, crossways, so the slices were maybe three inches long. 

And then I remembered I’d bought mushrooms to go on the pizza, so I hustled and cut those up and sauteed them in some butter.

Cut the dough in half. Rolled it out on a pastry sheet (a pizza crust tosser I am not. Put it on my peel I’d sprinkled with cornmeal.

Preheated the oven as hot as it will go, just past 500. Built the pizza. I drizzled a little olive oil on the crust and spread it around evenly. Added maybe a third of a cup of sauce and spread it around. Scattered mushrooms. Dotted some cubes of fresh mozz around. Draped slices of proscuitto hither and thither. Sprinkled grated mozz.  Sprinkled the whole with some grated parm.

And slid it off the peel and onto the pizza stone that lives on the bottom shelf, where it lived for about 8 or 9 minutes, until it was nice and brown.

People. This was a seriously good pizza. I am not sure I would call it a Sweet Baby Jesus good pizza, but then, I’m not inclined to put very many pizzas at all into that category. It has a thin, but flexible, New York style crust, with some crunch around the edges. It had enough salt from the ham and the cheese to offset the sweetness of the home-canned tomatoes.

The remaining chunk of dough is reposing in the fridge in its oiled bag, and I think it’s destined to become the outer layer of a calzone later this week, because it’s good in the fridge for four or five days. (You can freeze it indefinitely.)

So that’s how you ‘n y’mama ‘n ’em unprocess a pizza. Top it with whatever strikes your fancy.   It’ll be better than most of what you get at the pizza joint, unless you’ve got a fine pizza joint.

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