Tuesday, February 16, 2010

"Why buy pizza ever again?"

This was Mark's question, last night, after a homemade pizza victory. To be honest, I've never tried to make homemade pizza. If you've read my recent adventure with cinnamon rolls, you may correctly guess why: pizza dough is a yeast bread. 'Nuff said.

Besides being scared off by the prospect of making yeast dough, there is just no way to get around the fact that homemade pizza is not the real deal. I suppose one might convince oneself that homemade pizza is a different product all together and thereby move beyond that hindrance, but as good as I might be at self-brainwashing, I still love "real" pizza too much, and hate yeast dough too much, to want to waste time on a sub-par homemade pizza. If you've ever had homemade pizza, you're probably well-acquainted by the deficiencies: (and I mean no offense to my mother who makes a darn good homemade pizza - as homemade pizzas go). The temperature (or lack) of the oven is largely to blame. Pizzas made on a cookie sheet or other flimsy metal baking pan are the worst of the worst. They end being something between casserole and lasagna. Whatever they are, they're not pizza. Pizza made on a pizza stone is a vast improvement, as the stone absorbs a great deal of heat and does to the crust what a baking sheet/pan could never do - gives it its crustiness. However, even this lends itself towards a dry crunchy/tough crust and, true American that I am, I'm not looking for some dry fancy thin crust, no, I want that amazing deep-dish experience that you can only get from your local pizzaria. You know what I mean - ok, let's admit it: greasy, crusty on the outside, soft and lovely on the inside, deliciousniciousness that is "real" pizza.

How to accomplish this? Was it even possible?

That was why I never wasted my time on homemade pizza. Until one day, when I had a three-word-epiphany:

Cast. Iron. Skillet.

Even then, it took awhile for me to brave the experiment. It wasn't until we were so desperately out of groceries that all I could scrounge up for dinner was a list of the following:

-Frozen roll dough (storebought - a wonderful way to get around making the dreaded yeast dough!)
-Sharp Cheddar Cheese
-Shredded Parmesan Cheese
-Ham delimeat
-Red Onion

And that's when I put it together, along with the jar of pizza sauce sitting in the cupboard, bought just after my epiphany, in hopes that one day the dream would come to life.

I defrosted 9 frozen dough balls in the oven and when doubled in size put them in an oiled bowl and kneaded them together. I let that rest for a bit and when it looked alive, I transferred it to my well-oiled (bottom and sides!) cast iron skillet. I only have a 12" pan, but I think I'll be buying a larger one for future pizza nights. (Note: I think 9 rolls was too many; I'll try 6 next time). I stretched the dough to fit, letting it rest for about 5 minutes when it wouldn't stretch more. (Note: I recalled, at the end, that the preferred method is to flatten the dough and grab it by the edge, so it hangs free and rotate the dough, allowing gravity to pull it to the preferred circular size. I will try that next time).

Having fit the dough to the skillet, I let it rise just a bit. Then came the fun part: making it yummy.

I put a garlic clove through a garlic press and spread the mush around the perimeter crust portion of the dough, followed by a bit of salt. (Note: I will use 2 cloves next time). The crust was completed by a liberal sprinkling of shredded parmesan cheese. (I left the cheese off a portion for Iain who is allergic to dairy).

I spread on the store-bought pizza sauce, cut up some ham, sliced some red onion, and topped it off with parmesan and shredded cheddar cheese (b/c that's what I had on hand).

I preheated the oven to a blistering 500 degrees and popped that sucker in. I baked it for about 12 minutes, but in the future will go for around 15, maybe even a bit more - we were hungry and impatient.

I also should have let it rest in the pan a bit longer after removing it from the oven, before serving it, as our seconds were a bit crispier on the bottom and thereby even more tasty than our firsts.

This was GREAT pizza. I highly recommend this method for homemade pizza. It bakes up to a delicious deep-dish crust with all the elements that I had previously found lacking in homemade pizzas: crispy without being dry, soft/chewy inside without being tough, good flavor (esp. the garlic/parm crust!), in a word: YUM!

Mark is attending the annual SPO banquet tonight, so I will be trying attempt #2 this evening. I'll let you know how it turns out. :)

P.S. You can't beat the price! I think the cost of this pizza was in the neighborhood of about $2-3. (Using cheese from Sam's Club cuts costs, otherwise cheese can get pricey).

1 comment:

Jesse Ray said...

Anna and I thought this sounded very tasty. We are gunna haf to try it.