Sunday, February 10, 2013

pizze! {the sloppy chef series}

I love pizza.  I'm a total pizza hound.  I grew up with my mom's should-be-famous homemade pizza.  I've always tried to replicate it, but just never could.  Because no one is a better cook than mom. 

I'm only Italian by marriage, but let's face it...who doesn't secretly wish they could toss that dough up in the air and not have it land on their face, the ceiling fan, or their dog.

After years of trial and error, I've finally settled on my favorite from-scratch (sort-of) pizza.  I say "sort-of" because I make my sauce from assorted canned tomato products.  Hey, I'd love to saunter out to my garden and pluck up some vine-fresh romas, but it's winter.  And cold.  And actually quite rainy today.

That's really just an excuse because that would just be too stinkin' much work anyway. 

I'm not a professional cook, and I think my sauce-from-cans is actually pretty darn tasty.

The low-down (this makes a bunch of sauce, BTW):

Sauce (totally tweak as you see fit):

2 T Olive Oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 (14 oz) cans Italian tomatoes 
28 oz Contadina thick and zesty tomato sauce
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
5 cloves garlic, pressed
7 t. sugar
2 t. salt
1/4 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 bay leaf
1 oz chopped fresh basil (added about 30 minutes prior to making your pizza!)

Saute onion in oil until translucent.  Add pressed garlic and saute about one minute (!!don't let it burn!!).  Dump in everything else (except fresh basil) and let it simmer all day.  (You can add anything else you like...I added some fresh-dried oregano...) 

I wish I could post the smell because my house smells like Italian Heaven right now.

And it's really not sauce until it's bubbled and exploded onto the range hood. 

When you've added the basil and the simmering is over, discard the bay leaf.  You can run this through the blender to smooth it out if you'd like.  I leave it alone because I like it a little chunky, and I don't want to wash the blender.


This is a pretty basic recipe, but I finally found the trick.  While I might prefer to make my sauce from cans, I REALLY like to knead my dough by hand. 

Except now I don't.

I couldn't figure out why my dough was a bit dry, and my crust was always tough.  I wanted that nice, soft, supple dough that bakes up crispy on the outside...tender on the inside.  Mmmmm....

Duh...I was adding WAY too much flour when I kneaded by hand.  Thus, the stand mixer.  (A bread machine set on the dough cycle should work, too.)  

When I knead by hand, the dough sticks to my hands in a major way, so I found myself adding more and more flour.  When you prepare dough in a stand mixer, the dough hook couldn't care less how sticky it gets.

Here we go (makes one good-size pizza...enough for 2 pigs or 3-4ish people):

2 cups flour
4 t. Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 t. active dry yeast
2/3 cup plus 2 T WARM water
1 t. salt

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water and let sit about 15 minutes till creamy.

Meanwhile, dump the flour into the mixer bowl and make a well in the center.  Add olive oil.

After your 15 minutes are up, add the salt to the olive oil, then add about 1/2 the yeast mixture.

Then I begin mixing with the regular paddle to incorporate all the ingredients (above).  After the mixture starts coming together, add the rest of the yeast mixture till completely combined.  Then switch to a dough hook.

At this point, I set my timer for about 20 minutes.  I let the dough hook do its business for several minutes on low.  Then turn off and scrape it down.  Let it rest for a minute or two.  Turn it back on low for a few minutes.  Continue this process until your 20 minutes are up. 

Scrape your dough into a large, floured bowl; cover and let rise about 90 minutes ( one said this would be as fast as delivery...).  Punch your dough down and re-cover the bowl; let rise for another 30ish minutes.


{This would be a good time to heat up your pizza stone(s) in your oven...if you're using them.  I swear by them!  At least 450 degrees!}

Dump your dough out onto a floured surface.  I press it out with my fingers (sometimes I get gusty and do the dough-toss-in-the-air).  You can use a rolling pin, but again, more flour...  Stretch and press until you have your desired size. 

I sprinkle my HOT baking stone with cornmeal, then lay the dough on my stone; add sauce.  DON'T skimp on the sauce.

Add your favorite ingredients!  Here are mine.

I decided to do a foodboard instead of a moodboard.  
Green pepper, fresh mozz, black olives, sauteed onions, pepperoni, sausage.

{Photo above by Prof. know who you are!}

Bake at 450 (or higher!) for 8-12+ minutes, depending on how much stuff you load your pie with.  (I don't suggest piling it INCHES high...moderation is the key.)

My must-haves to make it your best pizza experience?  

FRESH basil!

FRESH mozzarella!

HOT pizza stones! 



What's YOUR favorite pizza???

-the sloppy chef

I'm sharing these noms with Inspiration Cafe


  1. I can personally attest that this was a great pizza. I particularly appreciated the fact that it had plenty of sauce (and the sauce was quite good). Great work Andrea!
    From: an anonymous Michigan PhD

  2. I love canned sauce too...but I always magic it up a bit. I love fresh basil too!!!

  3. Just gained 2 lbs and another great recipe!!! Pinning!!!

  4. I love pizza too!!! I actually asked my mom once why she couldn't have married someone who was Italian! Now I am getting into making some crazy flavored pizza just for fun. My favorite pizza sauce is Dei Fratelli, it's so good, what's the point of me wasting my time:)

  5. Andi - my family are pizza addicts!!!! Love this recipe - thank you for linking up to IC's very first link party xx Nat

  6. Pizza is Sams comfort food!'s his favorite food period. He makes the pizza in our house and his dough is always a little tough. I'm showing him this for a few tips!! I'm a tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella girl myself. Thanks for sharing this at the IC!


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