This week The New York Times published a collaborative section on pizza (“The Pizza Issue”) which included everything from recipes and restaurant reviews to wine pairings. In my house, Friday is almost always pizza night. It is quick and easy to put together, pleases everyone, and each season brings new toppings.
Tips for a successful pie:
- I find the simple recipes do the best. I started with recipes from John and Elana and Jim Lahey (Co. in NYC). Both work well, and the longer you let the dough rise the better the flavor and texture of the crust. I start my dough first thing in the morning, cover it in a large bowl and stick it in a corner of my kitchen until I return that night.
- If you have a bread stone great, otherwise an overturned sheet pan will work too. I find that if you have an old sheet pan for this use only works best. Heat your oven as hot as you can (usually around 500F) with the rack in the middle. If you are opting for a Chicago style pie, you will want to set the oven to 425F and press your dough into the appropriate pan. A cake pan can work for this, making sure to dust your pan generously with cornmeal for easy removal. I have found this works the best for home baked pies plus gives a bit of crunch to the bottom.
- Fresh mozzarella is great, but not always available. Other cheeses work great too including goat cheese, ricotta, and in a pinch the “Italian Pizza” shredded mix by Kraft. For the sauce, I use just tomatoes. In the summer take a handful of tomatoes and blanch to peel, remove seeds and puree. In the winter try a can of Muir Glen tomatoes and puree. Toppings beyond that are limitless. Some of my favorite combinations: fresh ricotta, arugula, pecorino; mozzarella and pesto; pancetta, caramelized onions, and goat cheese.
- Once out of the oven let it sit on a board and rest a few minutes before slicing. I like to top sometimes with fresh herbs (basil works well here), or if you are going with the arugula this is a great time to add it. Drizzle your pie with a bit of olive oil and shaving of parmesan and serve.
- I love wine with my pizza and there are so many great choices to choose from. Even in my wine desert I can find a decent Beaujolais, pinot noir, or even Nero d’Avola to pair with my pizza. Take note from some of the suggestions in this week’s New York Times article by Eric Asimov or Jameson Fink’s article in the recent Dabble Magazine on pizza wine parings. Anything from Italian reds to champagne to beer can be a successful pairing.