Pizza!

“Great pizza and bad pizza have one thing in common…they are both unforgettable.”

Suffice it to say that I am a big fan of pizza.  Any pizza can be a great pizza if it is made with passion and bravado.  New York, Chicago, Des Moines…it doesn’t matter which particular city or which style you prefer, pizza has become our Great Unifier.  Even when we argue about which type of pizza is the best, we are really acknowledging the existence of all forms of pizza.  The love of pizza embraces every culture, every race, every nation.  Pizza knows no boundaries.  Pizza brings us all together and we owe pizza a debt of gratitude.  Make pizza, not war!

Being a humble, home cook, I don’t have a wood-fire brick oven, I don’t make my dough with semolina flour and I don’t use buffalo mozzarella.  But, that doesn’t prevent me from producing some satisfying pizza pies.  I try to include at least one ingredient that elevates a common pizza to the next level and I put my heart and soul into each and every one.

Today’s pizza experience is somewhat typical for me.  By that, I mean that I used some ingredients that I have not used before and I employed some techniques that I did not see coming, until inspiration struck me.  Anyone who knows me knows that I rarely make a recipe the same way twice and pizza fits my philosophy perfectly. 

We’re making two pizzas. 

I usually use tomato sauce from a jar, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.  There are some really good sauces available and I use an inexpensive brand, flavored with basil and garlic.  But, now that I have fresh tomatoes from the garden, I am making my own sauce.

Ingredients for the pizza sauce:

2 cups diced ripe tomatoes

4 smashed garlic cloves

¼ tsp red chili flakes

Directions for sauce:

Cook the tomatoes, garlic and chili flakes in a large skillet until tomatoes are completely softened.  Strain the solids and reserve the sauce.  Reduce the sauce by half.  Set aside.

Prepare pizza dough.  See my recent post on pizza dough here:

https://wordpress.com/block-editor/post/toothpicktales.com/226

Heat oven to 400°.

Pizza #1

Ingredients for the toppings:

1 cup tomato sauce

1 small fresh tomato – thinly sliced

3 Tbs stuffed green olives – sliced

3 oz Italian Speck (similar to prosciutto)

2 oz baby Portobello mushrooms, sliced

4 oz sliced mozzarella cheese

½ sweet yellow onion – julienne cut

2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

A big handful of fresh arugula

Directions for making pizza:

Spread tomato sauce on cooked pizza dough.  Lay tomato slices around the outer edge of the pizza.  Sprinkle olives across the pizza.  Drape the speck capriciously across the pizza, gently.  Allow the cured meat to rise and fall…resist the urge to press it down.  Distribute the mushrooms and scatter strips of mozzarella across the pizza and finish with the julienne onion and Parmesan. Bake for 10 minutes.  Remove from oven.  Use a blowtorch to blister the mozzarella.  Toss fresh arugula on top.  Cut and serve. 

Pizza #2

Ingredients for the toppings:

1 cup tomato sauce

3 oz pepperoni slices

6 oz sliced mozzarella cheese

2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese

Directions for making pizza:

Spread tomato sauce on cooked pizza dough.  Scatter strips of mozzarella across the pizza.  Top with pepperoni.  Bake for 10 minutes and remove from oven.  Use a blowtorch to char the pepperoni.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.  Cut and serve.

The homemade tomato sauce makes both pizzas special.  It is a straightforward sauce…sweet and simple. 

The speck and arugula was my favorite of the two pizzas but both pizzas benefited by the blowtorch. 

Since speck is a dry, cured meat I layered the mozzarella on top, to keep the speck from becoming too dry.  Blistering the mozzarella with the blowtorch made the mozzarella sizzle and gave it a special saltiness. 

For the pepperoni pizza, I laid the pepperoni on top of the mozzarella, giving me an opportunity to put a char on the pepperoni with the blowtorch, which made it as crispy as a brick-oven could produce.

Now, go make some pizza but, for goodness sake, make it good! 

6 thoughts on “Pizza!

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