Rustic Pizza

I have been asked quite often lately how we make our pizza. We started making our own a few months ago, as we started to clean up our eating. We can't even order pizza from a pizza joint anymore. All but one place locally will make us sick. :S The one that we can eat does everything super fresh. Anyway, here is how we make ours. It takes us about 2 hours total, but that includes the hour to let the dough rise, so that really doesn't count. It's not like you have to sit there watching the air bubbles form. Step one: Get a dough recipe you like. I found that this recipe from Bobby Flay works great for me. Everything I do is in the mixer when it comes to dough, so this recipe is great for me, since it already accounts for that. There is no way I can sit there kneading dough anymore. I just slap on my dough hook and go for it. I do make some changes though. I begin as instructed, and mix the dry. The first change happens here. The oil I use isn't regular oil. I have flavored oil that I use, which we get at Olio. Last night the flavor was Italian Herb. It's important that the oil you substitute/use is good oil. It makes a big difference. We normally would use the Roasted Garlic flavor, which is amazing, but we needed a change of flavor. Then you just follow the recipe and let it rise. I don't substitute the flavored oil in the bowl when I let it rise. I just use regular oil. Now, I do add extra oil. He calls for two teaspoons, but I use more like a tablespoon or two. I want the dough to be very wet with oil when it comes out, for a very good reason that I'll get to in a bit. Also, for just the two of us, half of this recipe is fine. It will give us enough dough to make a thin crust pizza for each of us. It you want thicker crust, or have two or more people, you might need the full amount. When putting veggies on your pizza, there are a few things to consider. First, will they cook in 15 minutes? And two, how much liquid will leak out. I usually top my pizza with leaks, mushrooms (canned) and green peppers. The small amount of green pepper I use, normally doesn't pose a problem, but it definitely can. I want my leaks to have good flavor and be cooked, and since I don't use pizza sauce, the leaks become my sauce. I cut up about three good sized leaks. I end up with about 2 cups of chopped leaks. I put them in the frying pan with more flavored oil. Last night I used sun dried tomato with Parmesan. I add quite a bit of oil, probably about 2-3 tablespoons, since this will also be my sauce. I do this instead of an oil drizzle later on. Also be sure to salt your leaks. This is your big chance for flavor in your toppings. I also add pepper and garlic powder to my leaks. I cook these while the dough is rising, so they can cool a bit before going on the dough. Untitled If you are using onions on your pizza, you have a couple options. If you want the crispiness, then put them on raw. Use a white onion for this. If you want to use shallots, which is what J uses, it's best to either cook them first, sort of like cooking the leaks, but not with the same amount of oil and things if you are using a pasta sauce (that will just be a wet mess). The other option to not precooking them, is you cut them up, put them in a strainer over a bowl, and coat them in salt. You will have to do this a couple hours ahead of time, but it will leach out a fair bit of liquid without precooking your onions/shallots. You can also do that with your peppers. Then once you are ready, rinse your veggies to get all that salt off, and let them air dry a bit. Again, too much water means a soggy mess. After the dough is ready, I turn it out and cut it into even pieces...2 in our case. I turn it out in all it's oily glory onto a sheet pan. This means I am also oiling my sheet pan at the same time. So, I cut it in two, put one piece back in the bowl, and gently press my working piece out into an oval shape. Size matters here, because I'm actually going to precook my dough on a cast iron grill pan on the stove top. Untitled This gives a sturdy base for the toppings, and also gives nice grill marks and crispiness. The extra oil also means I don't have to add anything extra to the dough here. However, if you want more flavor, you can baste one side of your dough with the flavored oil again. And if you dough is looking a bit dry, you'll need to baste it again to get a proper char on it. When the dough is done, slide it back onto your sheet pan, and then repeat the whole process with pan/dough number two. I tend to keep the flame at around a medium for the grill. Too hot and it burns, too cool and you get no char marks. You'll have to baby this to get the right amount of char that you like. Untitled Untitled When it comes to toppings, less is more. I make the crust thin, so it can't hold up to a heavy meaty pizza. If you want something heavier, then you'll have to make your dough twice the thickness (and make a full dough recipe, if you want two pizzas), and then when you cook it on the grill pan, you will not get it to cook all the way through. But that's okay, because this is going in the oven for 15 minutes or so anyway. Untitled Untitled Once you have your pizza toppings on, simply put it into the oven on your sheet pan, at 350 degrees and cook until your cheese is gooey and browned. This tends to take about 18 minutes in our oven. I set the timer for 15 minutes to check on it, just to make sure it doesn't brown up too fast. Then I slice it and enjoy! Make sure to give it some time too cool though, otherwise you won't taste the rest of it. 🙂