Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Pizza: better, faster, stronger

I've posted about pizza dough here and here before. Not to mention various pizza topping combinations. But none of the pizza doughs were quite right.

So I decided to try this no-knead pizza dough recipe. I also decided to try cooking the pizza the "real" way, as opposed to the easy way. "Real" way: put the pizza stone in the oven first, and get it blisteringly hot. Slide the prepared pizza onto it. "Easy" way: assemble the pizza on the pizza stone. Cook. The real way gets you a slightly charred, slightly blistered, more authentic crust, but you also have to deal with sliding a pizza heavy with toppings into a 500-degree oven and not making a huge f*&%ing mess. I usually end up making a huge f*&%ing mess, which is why I always assembled it directly on the stone. Takes longer to cook, and you get a doughy crust as opposed to a crisp, crackling one, but also no huge f*&%ing mess.

Step 1: Heat up the pizza stone, in a 500-degree oven, while prepping the first pizza.
Step 2: Disable your smoke alarm by beating it to death with a broom handle.
Step 3: Turn on the vent above the stove, and continue pre-heating the pizza stone.
Step 4: Get a rimless baking sheet really, really covered with flour. Set the pizza on it, near the edge, and give it a couple of quick jerks to make sure the pizza will slide off. Put the toppings on the pizza (gently.) (If you don't have a pizza stone, a cast-iron skillet can work. You don't need a pizza peel if you have a rimless baking sheet.)
Step 5: Once the pizza stone is searing hot, slide the prepped pizza onto it with a couple of quick jerks. Turn the light in the oven on, and watch for blackened bits. When the pizza crust is sufficiently browned, remove the pizza.
Step 6: Reheat the pizza stone for 5 minutes, and continue with pizza making.

I figured, since the oven was on, I would just use up all four pizza dough balls, make a bunch of pizza, and reheat as needed.

Conclusion: You really do gotta use the broiler, as it says in the original recipe. Otherwise you get a delicious, but doughy and floury crust. I don't mind doughy, but all the flour on the bottom was a little much. Next time I will try cornmeal instead of flour, to see if the pizza will slide off still without the flour.

Also, delicious dough. Pizza-making at home is invariably a little time-consuming; if it's not the crust, it's the cooking process as above. This method takes all the time and energy out of crust-making, and puts it squarely in the cooking process. But that's okay--you can make a whole bunch at once. And it still tastes way better than either frozen or delivery pizza.

Also, prep the pizza on the baking sheet at the last possible minute. The longer it sits on the baking sheet, the more it will want to stay there and not slide right off onto the stone.

Today's pizzas: fresh mozzarella, prosciutto, fresh basil. Yum.

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