There is always room for pizza at your dinner table. Whether it is on a casual night with the family or for a group of friends gathering to watch the big game, pizza has a place in most households today. Pizza is an extremely important part of my food rotation and I want to share with you how you can make it an important part of yours as well.
Like any good recipe, the outcome of the food itself will depend on the care you put into the preparation and ingredients. We will talk planning, prep, groceries, cooking, and finally serving.
Great pizza takes time. As a matter of fact, even good pizza takes time – and if you don’t plan on putting in the time to make great pizza, you will only get mediocre pizza. I have tried over thirty pizza dough recipes and have finally found one that works for me.
Dough: The foundation
Start your dough bright and early (or night before) and let it rise. Just like you, getting some rest is important and letting the dough rise and rest will create the bubbles you are looking for when you bite into the crust. I have found that if you make it ahead of time by putting your dough in the refrigerator and then taking it out 1-2 hours to allow it to get to room temperature before stretching as you will get the best consistency. Use the best ingredients available to you (I use Double Zero Flour that I get from Broders Deli in Minneapolis).
- 2.75-3 Cups 00 (Double Zero) Flour
- 1 cup H20 with a temperature of 105-108 degrees F
- 1 heaping tsp of yeast (quick rise)
- 2 tsp honey
- Put water, honey, and yeast into food process and let the yeast start to proof and get bubbly - (4–6 minutes)
- Add approx half of the flour to the food process and pulse to incorporate with the yeast mixture (2-3 pulses)
- Add the remainder of the flour and turn on the food processor for approx 5 minutes until dough is sticky, but still pulls away from the sides of the bowl.
- Tear the dough into two or three pieces, fold under and twist, then let stand (size should double) for minimum of 1 hour (you can let stand for more and then refrigerate for next day use)
- Each batch will make 2-3 pizzas, depending of the type you want to make. I will use two for 14” hand tossed pizza’s and three for 10-12” Neapolitan style
- I pre-bake my smaller doughs for approx 3 minutes prior to topping with ingredients so that they hold true.
- Use a pizza stone in the oven at 550 degrees (If cooking inside, I pre-heat the stone for about an hour prior to cooking)
- Do not use a rolling pin for hand tossed or Neapolitan style dough – you want the air pockets in the crust and a rolling pin will pop those
- When you let the dough rise, put under a warm towel, it will allow the yeast to really get to work (I microwave a towel for 30 seconds prior)
A great sauce is the distinction between good and great pizza. My preference when it comes to making a great sauce is to use imported (canned) San Marzano tomatoes and fresh basil and fresh oregano. Put core staples into the pot (tomatoes, garlic, shallot, herbs) and let them go. Now is the time in which each chef can add whatever he or she wants to the sauce to make it their own. My favorites happen to be fresh cracked pepper and some parmigiana-reggiano cheese, but you can add other ingredients such as red pepper flake, salt, sugar, or fire roasted vegetables, to bring it to your standard. No matter what you add to the pot, make sure you get out a spoon and give it a taste. In my opinion, there is nothing worse than adding ingredients to your dish and realizing when it is served that you added too much or too little. It is your food, taste while you cook.
The ever-evolving topping list:
Pizza night can be as complex or simple as your chose, and what topping you have readily available may even help you decide what to top that ‘Za with. Guests are always asking what to bring when they come over, so we have borrowed some advice from Chef Bobby Flay: a bottle of wine, a bag of ice, or something on this list:
Successful pizza belongs to the organized:
Getting everything ready and organized can be somewhat a daunting task. When you cook pizza, it is important to have everything ready to go. Containers or prep dishes are a great way to sort out your topping and let each person create their own masterpiece. Preparation is the key to success.
Let’s get cooking:
Cooking pizza at home requires you to have the right tools. Whether you cook your pizza on the grill (preferred way of course) or you pop it in the oven, a quality baking stone and pizza peel are essential, but there are many extras that simply making the experience more fun. See the gear page for everything pizza and what we use in our kitchen.
Grill, gas or charcoal
Pizza Screens (optional)
Thermal laser pen (optional)
Pizza Party Instructions
- Get your grill hot: When using an oven or gas grill, make sure you have turned it on and let it warm up for at least 30 minutes prior to cooking. I like to use a laser temp pen to ensure my Big Green Egg and pizza stone are at 500+ degrees.
- Gather your ingredients and toppings: Set up your ingredients near the grill or oven so you have easy access to everything. Good pizza is as much about the organization and logistics as it is about actual cooking!
- Prep your dough: It should be stretched or rolled out into a thin circle. I prefer to stretch the dough so that it does not lose those precious air bubbles. I also pre-cook (proof) the dough so that they are easily prepared for the guests.
- Topping the pizza – get your guests or kids involved: This is an opportunity to put everyone else to work. Grab a proofed dough, place in on a pizza screen and make it any way you like it. The key is to get everyone involved to make sure they feel like it is their own.
- Cook the pizza: If you oven or grill is hot, the pizza should take 6-8 minutes to cook. Golden brown crust and melted cheese come through with a slightly charred bottom to create restaurant quality pizza at home.
- Serve: When having a group over, it is amazing to see how fast the slices disappear when you place it out on the cutting board. Time to enjoy!