Saturday, January 10, 2009

Recipe Corner with the Fatguy: DIY Pizza

Howdy Ho Boys and Girls!

I didn't get to be a plus size individual without knowing a thing or two about cooking. Just because I'm dieting down to a normal bike racer size doesn't mean I'm willing to give up food. I have just changed my habits to accommodate my choices. One of my favorite is pizza. And not just any pizza, but pizza you can make at home far cheaper and better than what you can get delivered to your house or purchase in the frozen foods section. The best part is that it takes the same time to make one as it does to wait for one to be delivered. So why bother with DiGiorno or Dominos. Make it yourself. Here's how I do a pepperoni & Canadian bacon pie...

First I start with the oven. I set that bad boy to 425 degrees, just like it says on the dough package. I use ready made pizza dough from Trader Joe's. This one is a plain dough. They have whole wheat and herb doughs too. My wife like the herb doughs which I use to make her favorite. A 'white' pizza with fresh Roma tomatoes, whole basil leaves and Asiago cheese. That's the beauty of these things, I can do what ever my imagination inspires me to do. To get the dough ready I set it out and let it get to room temperature. While the dough is getting up to temperature, I gather the rest of the ingredients. Here I have a can of Hunts tomato sauce, extra virgin olive oil, Italian seasoning, granulated garlic, thinly sliced Roma tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, Canadian bacon and the aforementioned dough. Also in the picture is my favored cooking utensil for pizza, a well seasoned Pampered Chef pizza stone.

The next thing I do is to take a sheet of wax paper, set it on a flat surface and place a heaping scoop of flour in the middle of it. This is where I prep the dough. Unfortunately I don't have a picture of that. So here's what to do. I place the fresh dough ball in the middle of the flour and scoop some more flour on top of it. I lightly spread the flour on the dough ball all over so it's not sticky to the touch. Then I work the dough into a 12-15" flat round pie. I even get fancy and toss that sucker in the air too. I learned how to do that 20 years ago working at a pizza place.

I like to get the pie bigger than the pizza stone so I can make a shoulder around the edge. That's the crust. Once done tossing, I place it on the pre-oiled pizza stone. I prefer olive oil. If you don't want to use oil, spread some corn meal on the stone. My wife says that works, but I have better luck with the oil.

Next comes the sauce. I pour it evenly on the pie and then pick up the whole stone and wave it around to let gravity evenly distribute the sauce so that I get a nice even coverage. Don't worry, the dough will not slide off the stone. Another reason I prefer oil. Also, I am not shy with the sauce. The gravity method works better than using your fingers (gross) or the bottom of a spoon. Then I sprinkle the garlic and Italian seasoning on the sauce. Sometime, when I am not in a hurry, I will figure out an uncooked recipe for sauce, In the meantime speed and ease are king. Trust me, it will not taste bland.

Now comes the tomatoes. I place them all over in a single layer right on top of the sauce. It's hard to beat the taste of fresh tomatoes on a pizza. Dominos doesn't do that! Bastages!

Here's the good part. The cheese. This is where home made trumps all. I can put as much of that good stuff on there as I want. There is no skimping at Casa Fatguy. Cheese is a personal choice. I prefer whole milk mozzarella. I grabbed this part skim stuff by mistake. I wont be doing that again. You can use what ever you like. My wife likes Asiago. I do too, but I like to sprinkle it on top of the mozzarella. It gives the cheese a nice aroma and bite to it.

Now the pepperoni. This brand is actually very low on greasy scale and it's thin. The thick stuff is good too. Traders Joe's has a nice Pancetta that I like to top my pies with, but I didn't have any.

Next up is the Canadian bacon. I like to slice it in half. The cheese and pepperoni underneath cooks better if its not covered up with whole slices of bacon. Trial and error learned me that.

Last but not least, extra cheese! I loves the cheese. There is nothing in the world that cannot be improved on with addition of cheese. I also sprinkle on more Italian seasoning and garlic. Time to put it in the oven...

I set the timer for 20 min and check on it from time to time. This pie took about 23 min and I turned it 180 degrees one time to get the cheese to evenly cook. Timing is key to get the cheese melted without burning the heck out of it. A pizza is not a roast. You cannot put it in the oven and forget about it. My oven has a speed bake feature. I don't use it! The cheese cooks OK and quicker but the dough is left partially raw. Slow and steady wins the race.

Once done you should have a beautiful pie like this...

Slice into 8 pieces, pours an expensive Belgian ale with the money you saved and enjoy! I guarantee that this pizza will be better than anything that ever shows up at your door in 30 min or less.



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