Saturday, January 12, 2008


We have friends who moved to New Bern from Chicago where they regularly enjoyed the famous Chicago thick-crust pizza. They miss it so much that they have it sent to them and pay $60 for one pizza (that includes shipping costs.) Guy and I, on the other hand, prefer our pizza with thin crust. Guy says the best pizza place in Trenton, NJ is DeLorenzo's and their pizza is thin right to the edges, and kind of burnt on the edges. I've been experimenting with pizza doughs, and there have been some very tough crusts with these experiments. But persistence has paid off, because I've found a great pizza dough. Tonight Guy said it was as close to DeLorenzo's as he has ever tasted. Since I haven't tasted DeLorenzo's pizza, I will just say that I really liked this crust because it was so thin -- that meant fewer carbs for me!

Now, about the sauce: another winner -- excellent flavor and texture, easy to make.

I hope you have some equipment to help you make pizza. I would be lost without my pizza stone and pizza board. They are both well-worn from years of use. I also use the pizza stone for pastry crusts and pies. If you don't have these tools, they're not expensive; go buy them. Photo below shows my pizza stone and board.

Make the pizza sauce and dough first; refrigerate or freeze till needed. When you want to make the pizzas, prepare your other topping ingredients. The pizza doesn't take long to put together and bake; it's all the other components that take the time, and they can be done in stages -- hours, days or even weeks ahead of time. BTW, this recipe is from Wolfgang Puck, Food Network. Since I've changed it considerably, you might want to see the original, which is on the Food Network website.

Thin Crust Pizza (adapted from Wolfgang Puck)
Rating: 10 out of 10

Cornmeal to sprinkle (I used self-rising)
Pizza Dough
All-purpose flour to sprinkle
1-1/2 cups tomato sauce
1 cup grated mozzarella
1 cup grated Asiago or Fontina
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1 cup cooked Italian sausage, in small pieces
1 cup sliced cooked mushrooms
3/4 cup sliced roasted red peppers
(any other toppings you desire)

DIRECTIONS: Place oven rack in center position. Preheat oven with pizza stone to 500F. Set out all the pizza toppings on the counter like an assembly line. Cut 4 pieces of parchment paper in a circle about 7-8", and place one parchment circle on the pizza board. Sprinkle about 2 tsp. cornmeal over the parchment paper circle. Place one ball of dough on the cornmeal and flatten it with your hand. Sprinkle it with about 2 tsp. flour, and rub it over the top of the ball with your hand. With a rolling pin, roll the ball in a circular motion around the edges, as you would a pie crust. To put it another way, divide the dough into quadrants and work clockwise, starting at 6 and going from 6 to 9, then 9 to 12, then 12 to 3, then 3 to 6. Keep doing this until the dough has become a flattened circle slightly larger than the parchment paper. The photo below is from my last attempt -- I was still trying to work the dough with my hands then. The pie was good, the crust was tender, but when I rolled the dough tonight, it was exceptional. Of course, our friends from Chicago wouldn't think so, because the crust would be just too thin for them. The crust on the pizza below puffed up at the edges, the way most pies do. And here's another little tip: whatever crust you see exposed when the dough is raw will expand in the oven. The dough below really blew up around the edges and there was quite a bit of crust showing on the baked pizza. (Naturally I forgot to take a photo; you know how I am with that.)

Once you have the dough the way you want it, spread the toppings. First, the tomato sauce. Less is more. Don't overdo anything. After the sauce, then the cheese. Instead of mixing the cheeses, I put them on in layers. First the Parmesan, very sparingly. Then the Asiago or Fontina. Then the Mozzarella. Guy's aunt, who cooked for Dean Martin in Las Vegas, used Cheddar Cheese in addition to Mozzarella and Parmesan.
Your final toppings are up to you. We're partial to sausage and peppers, especially roasted peppers. The pizza below has gold and red peppers. Also, note the parchment paper -- it's larger than the pie and it did burn somewhat. So tonight I cut it smaller than the pie and it didn't burn. It really helps to move the dough onto and off of the pizza stone. The first night I struggled with the dough and couldn't move it easily. The parchment paper makes it a breeze.
Go back up top and look at the final pizza photo. That's from tonight. See the difference? There's less crust showing. We're so excited! We will be enjoying pizza at home more often. This is especially exciting considering that we have no decent pizza places in New Bern. I mean, how can a southerner make pizza? Did you know it originated in Trenton, NJ? Honest. It was called Tomato Pie back then.

Here's the last bit of instruction: Slip the filled dough onto the hot pizza stone by slightly tilting the pizza board towards the stone. The parchment paper will slide onto the stone, taking the dough with it. Bake for about 9 minutes. You may have to experiment with this. I find 9 minutes to be perfect for my oven. Wolfgang Puck says 7-8 minutes. I hope someone will leave me a comment about how this worked for them.

No comments: