Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Pizza for forgiveness.
Long delay. This blog is getting off to a shaky start and I won't begrudge you your angry fists, your barely disguised sighs nor your disgust. I can only hope this small offering of pizza will stave off your ire a bit longer as you become more patient with me.
Please continue to frequent this blog! It'll be a sensation, I'm sure of it. Or something. Anyway. On to the building of this pizza. Last time we built the foundation. And now we get to the good stuff. Not that crust isn't good, it just... well its incomplete.
Before you start anything else!
PREHEAT THE OVEN TO 500 DEGREES.
You want that bad boy piping hot. I suppose you can start in the middle of the process, perhaps once the sauce is done, but for your first time, I recommend an earlier start time to eliminate the need for waiting or a badly heated oven.
A pizza stone and a paddle are also pretty essential.Mise en place for the tomato sauce. Look at the assorted goods: Black pepper, garlic, onion, italian seasoning, Kosher salt, olive oil, and tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes from the market. These are called "seconds" as they aren't perfect. A bruise here, a blemish there, perhaps a bit overripe, they don't sell for as much. And absolutely perfect for sauce.
My methodology for tomatoes is simple and perhaps brutal. A simple V cut to take off the top, then cutting off the flesh from the big "top" so as not to waste overly much, and perhaps a slice off the bottom if the brown nub at the bottom is too big. Slice into big chunks and through into a blender.
I'm fortunate enough that my cousin hooked me up with this glorious machine. One half a horsepower of blending power. Power I don't really need for this delicate operation, so just a few seconds of pulsing and the tomatoes were into a lovely pinkish puree.See the small chunks? That's good. If you don't have a blender, you can chop the tomatoes by hand. I do that sometimes when I want a slightly coarser sauce.
Here's my blender protip. I like a bit of wine in my sauce, but instead of directly adding it into the sauce, I use it to slosh up the bits of tomato that stubbornly cling to the blender.
Finely minced garlic.
Quarter a cup of olive oil. Heat this over medium heat, we don't want to brown anything too much.
Onions first! Once they're barely translucent....
Add in the garlic. Cook through but avoid browning once again.
Then throw the mess of puree into the pot.
Small palmfull of italian seasoning, salt and pepper to taste.
Tonight's topping of choice was spicy Italian sausage. Here's my methodology.. first slice the casings off.
Then put them right into the pan. I should have used less sausage for more room but darnit I was eager.
Check on the sauce while the sauasge is cooking! I bring it to a boil then simmer.
You see the yellow bubbling and liquidy areas? That's the acid from the tomatoes, and you'd be well served to skim it off to lessen any heartburn. Youch. An old tomato can is great for dumping it in!Here's what the acid looks like.
Oh right, the sausages. Flipped over, pressed flat with a spatula and "cut" it into chunks with the spatula. Very uniform and simple. Don't worry about cooking them all the way through, the pizza making process will handle that. Ok, toppings are done, lets start building this sucker.
Remember this? Good and ready to go.
And the mise en place for the pizza. Sausage! Sure, I'd have loved some mushrooms, canned artichoke hearts, perhaps some peppers, but sausage on its own is fabulous.
Sauce! The essential layer of moist savoriness that separates cheese from crust.
Cheese! Well, its cheese!
Dough! The absolutely necessary foundation to this fabulous dish.
The corn meal? ESSENTIAL. We'll get to that later.
Take a piece of dough (I use half) and start rolling it out with your fingers or a pin. If its too big, well, cut it down and make more smaller pizzas.
Relatively round! Not bad, not bad.
Look at it! Stretchy and pillowy! This isn't just for show though, I needed to put the corn meal on the paddle. Don't have a paddle? I suppose you could make a pan pizza, which would require a greased pan. The results won't be as great though.So, why is the corn meal essential? Keeps you from getting into... a sticky situation. That is, without this layer, the dough is going to stick to the paddle and you'll have a really really rough time getting the pizza off and onto the stone. SO DON'T FORGET IT. In the absence of corn meal, a thick dusting of flour works, but you have to work fast.
The sauce is a bit wetter than I want it. I used a slotted spoon later to drain out some of the liquid before putting more of it on.
Nicely sauced! ...Why is my spatula there?
Sausages. Putting them in the sauce means the cheese helps hold it in place. Keeps them from flying off the pizza when you roll it in.
Cheese is good. Learn it, love it.After throwing it into the oven for 10-15 minutes, it should look like this.