A few weeks ago Betsy and I had a few friends over and I decided to whip up a few pizzas to feed us. I haven’t posted on pizza recently (although I have in the past), but it’s one of my favorite things to make at home. While it’s pretty difficult to replicate excellent restaurant brick-oven style unless you happen to have a brick oven, you can get darn close.
I’m making three different pizzas in this post and three different sauces. But all of them are on the same crust so that makes them pretty easy to throw together once the crust is ready to go.
Here’s a few slices of each.
Let’s talk dough first and then we’ll get to each pie individually. I went with a dough that has been my go-to for the last few months. It’s a bit sticky and tougher to handle than some, but once it’s cooked, it produces a very crispy and delicious crust. It’s supposed to replicate the New Haven style that I know and love.
1) It's best to make this recipe the day before you want to make pizzas. If you're using a stand mixer, add everything but the flour to your mixer and stir it together. Let it sit for a few minutes until the yeast starts to foam. Then add the flour and mix it with the dough hook until it comes into a ball, just a few minutes.
2) Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to relax, then mix for another 3-4 minutes. If the dough is really sticky, add more flour by the tablespoon.
3) If you're doing it by hand, mix all your ingredients together in a large bowl with a spoon until they come together. Then start working the dough by sticking your hand in a bowl of room temperature water and work the dough vigorously as you rotate the bowl with the other hand. After 4 to 5 minutes of this, all the flour should be well incorporated and you should have a coarse dough ball. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes and then continue to work the dough for 3 minutes or until the dough is slightly sticky, soft, and supple. Remember that wet dough won't stick to your wet hand, so dipping it in water is important while you work it in the bowl.
4) Once your dough is made, shape it into 4 10-ounce balls. Store the balls in some large plastic bags drizzled with olive oil. Let these rest at room temp for 15 minutes, then store them in the fridge overnight (or at least 4 hours).
5) Remove dough balls and let sit at room temperature for 90 minutes before using so the dough can return to room temperature.
Making the Dough
I think the most important thing about pizza dough is giving it plenty of time to rest before you make the pies. In fact, if at all possible, make the dough the day before you plan on making the pies. I think this is better in most cases because it splits up the work.
You do not have to have a stand mixer to make this dough. I’ve made it easily half a dozen times by hand and it’s just as good and honestly kind of a fun workout! With a mixer, just mix all your ingredients in a large bowl mix on medium with the dough hook until the dough comes together in a ball.
Then let the dough rest for 5 minutes to relax a bit. Then mix it for another 3 minutes on medium. The dough should clear the sides of the bowl, but just barely stick to the bottom of the pan.
If you’re doing it by hand, mix all your ingredients together in a large bowl with a spoon until they come together. Then start working the dough by sticking your hand in a bowl of room temperature water and work the dough vigorously as you rotate the bowl with the other hand. After 4 to 5 minutes of this, all the flour should be well incorporated and you should have a coarse dough ball. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes and then continue to work the dough for 3 minutes or until the dough is slightly sticky, soft, and supple. Remember that wet dough won’t stick to your wet hand, so dipping it in water is important while you work it in the bowl.
With either method, if the dough is too sticky, mix it a tablespoon of flour. If it’s too dry, mix in a Tablespoon of water.
Shaping the dough
Once your dough is made, immediately shape it into four 10 ounce balls and store them in a few plastic bags drizzled with some oil. I like to use gallon bags and put in two balls of dough per bag. Let these rest at room temperature for 15 minutes and then stick them in the fridge overnight.
I made three different sauces, but they were all very simple. You can make all of them can be made in about 20 minutes total.
Basic Marinara Sauce
Makes about 4 Cups
– 1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
– 5 cloves garlic, minced
– 2-3 Tablespoons fresh basil, minced
– 1 Teaspoon dried oregano
– 1/2 Lemon, juice only
– Salt and pepper to taste
You can cook this sauce if you want to make it a bit thicker, but honestly, I just stick all the ingredients in a blender and blend them up. I like the fresh, light flavors. If you cook them too much they get thick and like a pasta sauce.
Chipotle Marinara Sauce
Makes 2 Cups
– 2 Cups of the above marinara sauce
– 3-6 Chipotle peppers from chipotle in Adobo sauce
– 1 Tablespoon (or more) of the Adobo sauce
– 1/2 Teaspoon crushed red pepper
The thing to remember about this sauce is that it should be really spicy on its own. It will mellow out on the pizza with the cheese and everything. I used about 4 Chipotles in my batch, but I’d kick it up a notch if I made it again, which I will because it rocks. Again, just blend or process everything together.
White Sauce (Adapted from American Pie)
Makes about 1 Cup, enough for a few pizzas actually
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
– 1 small onion, diced
– 2 cloves garlic, minced
– 1/2 Cup heavy cream
– 1 Teaspoon thyme (fresh would be best but I used dried)
– Salt and pepper to taste
In a sauce pan or frying pan, heat up your oil and add your onions and garlic. Cook over medium heat for a few minutes until they are softened (probably 5 minutes). Add the cream and lower the heat to low. Stir for another 3-5 minutes until the mixture is thick and reduces a bit. Take it off the heat and then add your thyme and taste for salt and pepper. Let this cool completely before using.
You can make all of these sauces days before using them. They would store in the fridge without a problem. The marinara sauce and white sauce are great on pasta also if you have leftovers.
Ok. We got our sauces and crust ready. Let’s do the pizzas. All of these pizzas are cooked at 500 degrees on a pizza stone for about 12 minutes. A pizza peel would be helpful also, but I’ve used the back of a baking dish to slide in the pizza in a pinch.
If you need help shaping the pizza, check out this post where I go into much more detail on the shaping, etc.
I must admit, this pizza is not an original. I totally stole it from a restaurant here in DC, but man is it good and I think I have it down pretty close.
Fire/Smoke Pizza (Adapted from Matchbox Pizza)
– Chipotle marinara sauce
– 2 ounces shredded low moisture mozzarella
– 6 ounces shredded smoked gouda
– 1/4 red onion, sliced
– 1/2 roasted red pepper, sliced (I just bought the jarred variety.)
This is a surprising pizza for people because when it’s done, it looks like a normal cheese pizza, but when you take a bite it’s spicy and smokey and delicious. It’s seriously an amazing pizza.
Next on the list is a white pizza which is creamy and more filling.
This pizza tastes kind of like a mushroom Alfredo, but in a very good way.
Mushroom White Pizza
– White sauce
– 8 ounces shredded low moisture mozzarella
– 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced and sauteed for a few minutes until soft
– 3 ounces hot Italian Sopressata (optional)
I decided to add the Sopressata to this pie at the last minute and I think it was a good call. It gets kind of crispy and gives a great texture and a bit of spice to the finished pizza. The mushrooms and white sauce go great together.
Finally on the list is a meat lover’s type pizza although the meat is hidden under a light bed of arugula.
I used some high end meats for this pizza which give much more flavor than normal pepperoni, but you can use that also.
Macheesmo’s Meat Lovers
- Marinara sauce
– 8 ounces low moisture mozzarella, shredded
– 3 ounces hot sopressata
– 3 ounces proscuitto
Add the arugula to this pizza after it comes out of the oven. It gives some peppery freshness to the pizza that works great with the spicy meats. It doesn’t look like there is a lot of meat on it, but it’s packed with flavor.
If you’ve passed second grade math, you’ll note that I have one ball of dough left over. You could obviously just make one of these again (people’s choice!) or another pizza.
The Fire/Smoke pizza was the favorite on this night I think, but it’s a pretty close call.
If you’re a home pizza maker, you gotta try these.