One of the early triumphs of any home cook is the discovery that good Pizza needn’t require a phone call, internet order or a trip to some local wood-fire pizzeria. In fact, you can make damn good pizza yourself. It’s fun and it has the benefit of letting you make exactly the kind of pizza you like, AKA, your own damn pizza.
- Pizza Crust (Trader Joes or whatever kind you want).
- Pizza Sauce (Any store bought marinara you like)
- Cheese (Traditionally Mozzarella but can be any time you want – though if it melts its better)
- Various and sundry toppings
- Olive Oil
- All Purpose Flour
The crust. (this is actually the hardest part). Tomorrow I will post a comparatively simple recipe for good, homemade pizza crust. For today I’m going to make it even simpler and say, go to Trader Joes and buy “pizza dough” out of their refrigerated section. It’s about a buck, ninety-nine for a bag and a bag makes three good sized Pizzas. (Don’t try to make one large pizza or you will end up with a doughy mess).
Let the dough come up to close to room temperature and you’re ready to roll.
Trader Joes also sells a pretty good pizza sauce but you can really use any store-bought marinara or other sauce that you like. Remember, this is your damn pizza. That starts with the sauce.
Typically a pizza is made with mozzarella cheese. Lactose intolerant? Fine. Use goat cheese. (See “your damn pizza” above). Like blue cheese? Use blue cheese. (If you want to screw up your damn pizza that’s your decision). A word of caution here, you don’t need as much cheese as you think you do. When that stuff melts it fills in. I’m not going to give you measurements because I don’t know how big your pizza will be.
As for other condiments, you can buy a bag of 7,214 precut pieces of pepperoni for $2. You’re going to use 12. Put the rest in the fridge for next time. It’s salt cured and will stay preserved for about 52 months. I like Italian sausage. I cut the skins off and toss it in a frying pan and “mash” it into clumps with a potato masher. Like slices? (read, ‘your damn pizza’ above). As a general rule it is a good idea to precook most of the ingredients so all you’re doing when you put the pizza in the oven is effectively heating the sauce and melting the cheese…If you have a 3200 degree wood burning pizza oven you can cook the whole damn thing together.
I like caramelized onions. I put an onion in a frying pan with a little olive oil and let it cook low and slow until it is nicely browned. Yum.
If you want to go crazy get some green, basil pesto (or make you’re own if buying it is beneath you). By the way, your own will be better and it is very easy to make. Also get some shrimp and some fresh basil leaves. Use the pesto for your pizza sauce with a mozzarella or mild goat cheese and give the shrimp a quick sauté’ before you put in on the pizza.
OK. How to Make Your Own Damn Pizza.
Cut the pizza dough into thirds (about a billiard sized ball). Put a copious amount of all purpose flour on your countertop or other very flat surface and also on the pizza dough. Either with your hands (like a real man) or with a rolling pin (like me) make your pizza flat. The thinner the better in my mind but if you like thick crust remember (see “your damn pizza” above). Just know that it will puff up in the oven and then die back down when it comes back out.
Heat your oven and your pizza pan or baking sheet in the oven to 450 degrees. If you have a very very good oven then go ahead and heat it to 500. If you are my son and you are in a tinderbox apartment building that gives me the willies, then 450 is fine.
When the baking sheet and the oven are up to temperature dust some flour on the baking sheet or pizza pan and then lay your already flattened pizza dough on the pan and put it in the oven for about five minutes. Take it out and coat the top with a little brushed on olive oil before turning the crust over and putting it back in the oven for another 3-5 minutes.
Take the “pre-fired” (a term sure to impress your female guests) out of the oven and put on a thin coat of sauce, your cheese and toppings. Put it back in the oven and watch through the window as the cheese melts. When the cheese is melted you’re ready to go.
Take it out of the oven and cut it up (a decent Pizza slicer costs about $5) and serve it to your admiring friends.
Enjoy accolades and fend off friend requests from unknown coeds.