Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Lazy Woman's Homemade Pizza

I love to make pizza at home:
1: Pre-heat oven. Remove rings (dough + diamonds = mess). Roll up sleeves.
2: Oil a 16" pizza pan (cheap, perforated aluminum is fine). 
3: Flour hands and dough. Form the crust in the air, with your hands. Enjoy this.
4: Put the dough on the pan, reshape it to fit. 
5: Add sauce, cheese, and toppings. 
6: Bake at 425 to 450 degrees for 12 to 18 minutes, depending on your oven. 
The whole process should take about 20 minutes.

I can't be bothered to make the dough. I prefer to get it at a nearby pizzeria. Uno's dough is excellent, but it's usually too far out of the way. On Newbury Street, Bostone's dough is tasteless, Scoozi's is okay, and The Upper Crust refuses to sell dough, so the heck with them. If I'm using supermarket dough, I find that Shaw's fresh dough is usually decent, whereas Trader Joe's is less tasty and harder to work with.

I've been experimenting with freezing fresh dough so we can have pizza anytime. So far, the best way I've found to thaw it quickly is to put the dough in an airtight bag, squeeze out the air before sealing it, and submerge it in a sinkful of hot water for about an hour. The dough won't be as easy to handle, but with a little skill, you can still form a nice 16" crust.

I can't be bothered to make sauce. We really like Trader Joe's sauce, with the green labels, especially the Roasted Garlic Marinara. It has a robust flavor (nothing like raw garlic) that enhances but doesn't overwhelm the pizza. I bought my first jar of this by accident, mistaking it for their Tomato and Basil Marinara, which is also very good. I use the garlic flavor all the time now. It's also delicious with gnocchi.

I can't be bothered to make cheese, of course. I like the multi-cheese blends I find at Shaw's, with some combination of part-skim mozzarella and parmesan with romano, asiago, fontina, and/or provolone. If I'm stuck with a bag of plain mozzarella, I supplement it with plenty of parmesan. And a sprinkling of oregano. I don't always use a whole 8-ounce bag of cheese. Pizza with excess cheese bothers me. I want to taste the dough, sauce, and toppings, not a big slab of greasy, rubbery cheese. (For this reason, we always order our takeout pizzas with half as much cheese. But the pizza-makers rarely take us seriously.)

I can't be bothered with complicated toppings. Cutting the rind from a wedge of brie for a ham-and-brie pizza is as much effort as I'll make, and the result is worth it. Mushrooms and/or sun-dried tomatoes are easy. Fresh tomatoes and basil are great in the summertime. Thin-sliced salami, cut into quarters, is wonderful, as is imported prosciutto or lean ham. Turkey pepperoni is a low-fat approximation of real pepperoni, but it's still full of nitrates, so I feel it's not worth it.

When the pizza is out of the oven, we slice it using a magnificent cutter hand-forged and crafted from brass, steel, and cocobolo wood by my late cousin Ed, a member of the Knifemakers' Guild. It's the only pizza cutter he ever made, and his life is remembered and celebrated with every pie I make. When it comes to cooking, I may be lazy, but my heart is generally in the right place.

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