Sunday, September 5, 2010

Homemade Pizza

This is less of a recipe and more of a general guideline and cooking instructions to follow up from my previous post.

We like to prep all the topping possibilities and then let each person make her own pizza. Alternatively, we cook our daughter's little pizza first and then combine the remaining two dough portions to make one large pizza so that the whole family can eat together at the same time. (By the time our pizza is cooked, our daughter's is cool enough to eat).

We tried to cook pizza on the grill this summer when we didn't want to heat the house. It was good, but because we just have a Weber Q rather than a full-sized gas grill, we don't have as much control over the temperature and method (direct/indirect) as we would really require for the optimum crust texture. By all means, use a grill in the hot months and then switch to the oven in the cooler time. Just know that your crust results may vary from method to method.

Patricia Wells has a great suggestion for any ingredients that might dry out in the oven such as mushrooms or prosciutto--coat them lightly with olive oil and let rest for a few minutes before using. She also notes that a marinade of olive oil, rosemary and hot pepper flakes used on thin slices of red onion at least an hour before using can help both the texture and flavor of onions used on pizza. We tried this and the onions definitely had less of a bite and were not too crispy.

INGREDIENTS
Individually-portioned pizza dough, thawed
Fresh or thawed pizza sauce
Desired toppings (such as cheese, chorizo, capers, olives, peppers, mushrooms, pine nuts, greens, onions, etc)
Flour or cornmeal as needed for dusting

INSTRUCTIONS
  1. If using the oven, preheat at 500 degrees for at least 40 minutes before you want to cook your pizzas. Ideally you'll have a pizza stone in there that also preheats. This will ensure the crispiest crust. If using a grill, you will want to preheat but we found we couldn't use such a high temperature. We cooked the pizza directly on the grill grates--you could also try preheating and using your pizza stone on the grill
  2. On a clean counter or board, sprinkle flour liberally and put one of the dough portions on it. Try to get the dough as thin as possible, slightly thicker around the edges. Depending on how sticky, firm, or relaxed your dough is, you might want to use a rolling pin or use your hands and gravity to get the dough spread out. You're aiming for the 'window pane' effect, where the dough is so thin you can almost see through it. Even if you don't get it this thin, it'll still be delicious
  3. Transfer the rolled out pizza crust to your pizza peel or whatever you're going to use to get the pizza into the oven. (I love my Super Peel which makes it a breeze to get the crust from the counter to the peel and the peel to the oven. You may wish to dust your peel with cornmeal to help sticking. If you don't have a peel, you could always just put the crust on a baking tray
  4. Use a light hand to apply the sauce and toppings. If you use too many toppings, the pizza may get weighed down and become soggy. Leave about 1/2 inch perimeter all around with no toppings so nothing leaks out onto the stone (and you get a lovely, puffy crust)
  5. Transfer the pizza to the hot baking stone (or put baking tray in the oven or on the grill)
  6. Set the timer for about 8 minutes as an initial guess. After the 8 minutes, check to see if the crust has risen and appears fully cooked. If using cheese, it should be melted and bubbly. Cook longer if necessary
  7. Remove from oven and serve immediately for best crust texture

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