The Delta Blues
Let me start this post by saying that I’ve never actually had their version of the winning pizza, The Delta Blues, but I figured I’d try my hand at it anyway. It’s described as a red sauce pizza with mushrooms, bacon, blue cheese, and spinach.
I figured I could handle that. This turned out to be a very flavorful pizza. My favorite part of it was actually the spinach, but we’ll get there.
Delta Blues Pizza
Yield: 2 pizzas
1 recipe of pizza dough, below (makes two pizzas)
1 Cup pizza sauce, below
16 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled
8 ounces bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 pound mushrooms, sliced and sauteed
4 Cups baby spinach, chopped
Salt and pepper
Basic red sauce:
1 Cup tomato sauce or strained tomatoes
1 Teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 Teaspoon garlic powder
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 Teaspoon onion powder
Pinch of salt and pepper
New York Style Pizza Dough (From American Pie)
Makes 2 large pizzas.
5 Cups (22.5 ounces) bread flour
1 1/2 Tablespoons honey or sugar
3 Teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 Teaspoons instant yeast
3 Tablespoons olive oil (plus more for the dough later)
1 3/4 Cups room temperature water
TO make the dough...
1) Add all the ingredients to a large bowl and stir together with a large spoon until the dough comes together.
2) Dip one hand in a bowl of warm water and vigorously knead the dough in the bowl, constantly turning the bowl, until the dough comes together and starts to firm up, about 4 minutes.
3) Let the dough rest for 5 minutes.
4) Continue to work it for another 2-3 minutes until the dough is soft and smooth and very elastic.
5) Cut the dough in half, roll each half into a ball, and add each ball to a plastic bag coated lightly with olive oil.
6) Let dough sit at room temp for 15 minutes and then store in the fridge overnight.
7) Remove the dough from the fridge 2 hours before making pizza.
Making the pizza...
1) Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl. Feel free to add other ingredients to your liking.
2) Cook bacon in strips in a large skillet, until they are browned, but not quite crispy. Remember that the bacon will cook in the oven as well.
3) Pour out the bacon grease but leave a tablespoon or two. Add your sliced mushrooms and cook for a few minutes over medium-high heat until the mushrooms release their liquid and turn soft and browned.
4) De-gas dough, roll it into a 14 inch round, and add it to a prepared pizza peel. Dust the peel with a bit of flour or cornmeal so the dough slides off easily.
5) Add a light layer of sauce to pizza followed by mozzarella cheese, bacon, mushrooms, blue cheese, and a pinch of fresh ground pepper.
6) Slide the pizza into a very hot, pre-heated 500 degree oven for 14-15 minutes.
7) When the pizza comes out of the oven, add chopped spinach to the top.
8) Let cool for a minute or two and then slice and eat!
Adapted from a Pablo's pizza.
Making the Dough
You could use store bought pizza dough for this, but for my money nothing beats homemade crust. Once you get the hang of it, it really only takes about 10-15 minutes to whip up. Of course, for a really good dough, you do need to let it sit overnight, so there’s some planning involved.
Sometimes I use my stand mixer for this, but on this day I did it by hand.
Start by adding all the dough ingredients to a large bowl. Mix them together with a large spoon until they come together (top left). Then dip your hand in a bowl of warm water and knead the dough vigorously. After a few minutes the dough will start to firm up (top right). At that point, let it rest for 5 minutes which will let the dough relax.
Continue to knead it in the bowl with your hand. After another few minutes you should end up with a really soft dough that’s very elastic and stretchy (bottom left). Cut this dough into two even halves and stick them in some large plastic bags with a good drizzle of olive oil (bottom right). Let these sit at room temperature for 15 minutes and then store them in the fridge overnight.
Yes. That’s right. Overnight. That requires you to do some planning, but trust me. It’s worth it.
Making the sauce
I kind of mess around with red sauce and the above recipe is my most current version. Seriously though, I recommend that you just add a cup or two of tomato sauce to a bowl and stir in dried spices until it tastes good! If it tastes good straight, it’ll taste good on a pizza!
There are only three toppings for this pizza: bacon, mushrooms, and spinach. The bacon and mushrooms need to be cooked before going on the pie. Some people don’t cook the mushrooms before adding them to pizza, but I’ve found that this makes the pizza kind of watery because the mushrooms release a lot of liquid as they cook.
If you saute them for a few minutes though, they release most of their liquid and you don’t have that issue.
I cooked my bacon in strips in a large skillet until it was not quite crispy, but definitely browned. Remember that it’s going to cook further in the oven.
Then I used a few tablespoons of the bacon grease to saute my sliced mushrooms for about 5 minutes until they are soft and lightly seared.
You’ll obviously need some cheese also. For this pizza, mozzarella and blue cheese are what you need! Shred the mozzarella and crumble the blue cheese if it isn’t crumbled already.
Making the pizza
A few tips for making the pizza to really make it exceptional.
The first thing, and most important, is to make sure you get your oven as hot as possible. Hopefully you have a pizza stone you can preheat in the oven, but heat it up to 500 degrees and let it get hot for 20 minutes or so.
Second, be sure to take your dough out of the fridge about 2 hours before you want to make the pizza. Letting it come up to room temperature will make it easier to stretch and shape.
Third, when you’re shaping your pizza, feel free to use a roller to get it in a rough circle, but the dough should be very strong and you should be able to pick it up and fling it around without worry.
Once it’s the right size (probably 14 inches across), lay it on a pizza peel or a baking sheet that’s been coasted lightly with cornmeal or flour.
Fourth, go light on the sauce. A light coating of sauce is all you need.
This is my pie, shaped and ready to go!
Then I added on some mozzarella, my bacon and mushrooms, the blue cheese, and some extra mozzarella on top. I also added on a good pinch of fresh black pepper.
Slide this beauty onto your very hot baking stone and cook it for about 14 minutes. The crust should be a nice golden brown and the cheese nice and bubbly.
This is about as perfect as it gets.
What about the spinach?!
Don’t worry. I didn’t forget the spinach. The key to adding greens like spinach to a pizza is to add them right when the pie comes out of the oven. If you actually cook the pizza for 14 minutes with spinach on top, they’ll just shrivel up and burn.
But if you chop it up roughly, and add it to the pizza right when it comes out of the oven, the heat from the pizza will wilt it slightly, but it’ll still be a tiny bit crunchy.
You’ll want to let this cool for a minute or two, but then you should slice it up and eat it as soon as possible!
I used a bit of a thicker crust for this pizza than I have with some other pizzas I’ve made because the toppings on this guy were pretty heavy. It turned out to be the perfect combination though. I really liked this pizza!
Homemade pizza is one of those things where the little details make all the difference. Homemade dough, a hot oven, and fresh ingredients can really make something special.
I don’t know about you, but I’m a FAN of The Delta Blues!