Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Let them eat pizza

Behold one of my homemade pizzas:

This one is piled with fresh mozzarella, sausage (original Bob Evan's from the tube, browned in advance), Mama Gallucci's pizza sauce and black olives on one half (the Goat detests olives and I love them). I use my trusty Panasonic bread machine to make the dough (2 1/4 cups bread flour, 1 t. salt, 1 1/2 t. olive oil, 3/4 cup water, 1 t. yeast)

Garlic press that looks like a speculum.
Sometimes I push a few cloves of garlic through my garlic press that looks like a speculum and let them soak in a bit of olive oil for a couple of hours. I add that to the Ma G's pizza sauce in order to make an extra-garlic version of my pie. Sometimes I buy extra-thin sliced Boar's Head sandwich pepperoni and cut it into sixths and cover the pie with the darling little triangle-shaped pieces, which will crisp up into some kind of serious heaven if you bake that mother proper in a reeeeeeally hot oven.

Yes, you always have to use a pizza stone, preheated for at least 30 minutes in a 500-degree oven. I use a pizza peel and a parchment paper trick to get the pie on and off that hot stone. There's probably stuff I'm forgetting, but tough luck. After all, it took me years to get this good at making pizza and you have to pay at least some of your own dues.

I am so enamored with my homemade pies that carry-out leaves me flat (except for the sheet pizza [authentic Italian style with a delicate sauce and not too much cheese] that they sell by the slice at the little Italian deli where I buy the Boar's Head pepperoni).

Hence, the usual joy that inflates most Americans when faced with the prospect of carry-out or delivery pizza is for me, well ... eh, no thanks.

So be it. Eat either too impatiently and the bubbling cheese will peel the skin from the roof of your mouth. For in every act, something is lost and something is gained. Droughts give way to floods. Wheat shimmers in the sun somewhere in between. A low animal roots in filth; a heifer lows in a meadow afar.

You chew; the slaughterhouse looms.

*  *  *


Anonymous said...

See, this is why we are envious of The Goat ; )

Anonymous said...

@ Erin...
That photograph made me strangely...aroused...Do you do the 'whipped cream as a snack' for desert?
If I may, a humble suggestion. There's an inexpensive sauce on the market, only it sure as hell doesn't taste 'tight-budget'. It's called Del Grosso's and no, this isn't a big company play-acting real Italian to make their stuff more attractive. Their family also owns a terrific small, OLD-school amusement park in central PA and they put the sauce on the market because of the feedbac they got constantlt from park guest tho said "why the hell can't I get this in Erie?!
Here's the best part: Giant Eagle puts it out at 10/$10 frequently! They do pizza sauce, sloppy joes, and pasta.
Well, anyway, I hope the little tidbit about the sace comes in handy for somebody.

And Erin, if you read this, any tips on where I might find an oven stone cheap?*


BTW, I'm not cheap. I'm broke.

Anonymous said...

"dessert". I HATE frickin' typos. Hate 'em.

Anonymous said...

You don't use the oven much.?

Here's a tip on the garlic. Fuck that annoying thing in the bin. Then when you need a clove or three put them on a counter block and whack them with the side of a chef's knife or cleaver. Then peel of the skin and tail them. Once tidy, put a shake of salt on the block and proceed to mush the clove on the salt. Once you get good at it you'll do a clove in 30sec. And even when you are bad at it you'll not have that annoying chore of cleaning out those fecking little holes in the cursher

Jack said...

The shape of a proper pizza should be irregular too. Some deep aesthetic law of the universe is violated by a perfectly round one.

John Venlet said...

Looks good. I'll take two slices, of the Goat's side of that pie, and an ice cold beer, to go.

dean said...

I have a ceramic charcoal-burning thing that works as a grille and a smoker. But the cool thing is that it also works as a charcoal fired pizza oven. I've only tried pizza once because I had issues getting the damn things on and off the stone, but basically I light it (using lots of little pieces of charcoal, not big ones) and open the vents wide with the diffuser in and the stone on the grille. I get it up to 600, 650 and then slide the pizza on.

MAN does it make a good pie. Even if the pie is warped and some of the sauce has slid off because the goddam thing stuck on the peel or the stone or the whatever and dealing with anything stuck when the grille and stone are at 650 degrees is hair raising, let me tell you.

All in all, I think I'd rather have pizza at your place. I'll bring the beer though.

John Venlet said...

Erin, forgot to mention another trick for getting that pie on and off the hot stone and the peel. Cornmeal. Dust both the peel and stone with it. Not only does it facilitate easy on and off of the pie, but the cornmeal adds a nice touch of flavor.

Erin O'Brien said...

Hi gang,

Thanks for the garlic tip, roaring. I do use that method sometimes.

I have tried the Del Grosso's sauce, MR, and it's pretty good. I like the Ma G's sauce as it has no vinegar. Canned crushed tomatoes will do nicely as a simple "sauce," but you need to drain them and add salt, garlic, etc.

Incidentally, Penzey's pizza spice kicks ass, although I don't use it when I'm using Ma G's sauce.

Jack: agreed. The circular pie is the exception in my kitchen.

Dean, you have John V's suggestion. My dough is so damn sticky that the cornmeal doesn't work for me. I build the pie on a piece of parchment paper (yes, I use a rolling pin, so kill me already), slide the peel underneath the whole thing and put the pie and paper onto the stone. After 5 mins, I open the oven really fast and lift the pie enough (using the peel) to pull the paper out (using a tong). Then I let the pie finish, usually another 5 mins.

When putting the pie in there or pulling out the paper, I move fast as hell to keep the heat in the oven, which, I (ahem) USE ALL THE TIME, roaring.

Anonymous said...

I'd weigh 900 lbs if I ate like you guys.


B.E. Earl said...

What do you charge for delivery?

Goat said...


Take a guess who ends up cleaning the little holes in the crusher. Not fun.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

My trick for garlic is, as noted above, to place the clove on the board and hit it with a Chef's Knife. Once that's done, I pick up the clove by the tail, and then tap it with the knife - the clove will fall out of the skin in one piece (most of the time). If you're peeling multiple cloves, take two bowls (steel is preferred, but I suppose you could use glass, plastic - I don't use them since I work with stainless bowls in a professional kitchen most of the time) and place your cloves in one of them. Put the other one on top, inverted over the bowl and shake it vigorously. The cloves should come out of the skins in one piece.

Another trick for mincing garlic is to take a clove, and rub it against the tines of a fork placed flat on the countertop. Or you can cut it up like you would an onion and cut it into fine cubes.

I second the cornmeal trick, as I've done that in a professional setting. It works.

There are several ways to shape the pizza. One is to toss it, which a lot of home cooks aren't comfortable with. One can always stretch it out into a round on the prep table; place it over an oiled bowl and stretch it that way; or place a disk of the dough on a sheet pan that's been oiled, and stretch it out into a disk.

I don't use a bread machine to make my dough. I either do it by hand, or in my kitchen aid mixer. At work, we have both bench and floor mixers for making the dough.

A good rule of thumb to make bread (and by extension pizza dough is to follow Michael Ruhlmann's ratio for dough (his book, Ratio is great - I strongly recommend it), which is five parts flour, three parts water, plus salt and yeast. With that, you can make bread anytime you want, as well as pizza dough (he recommends adding olive oil to the dough - this makes it a bit more pliable as well as adds flavor - it also acts as a shortening, shortening the gluten strands in the dough and making it a bit more tender). Erin's recipe is a 9:3 ratio or flour/water (using 1/4 cup as the measure) but she states it's sticky. That's because a cup of flour weighs about 5 1/2 ounces, meaning she has about 13 ounces of flour, to 6 ounces of water, which is close to a 2:1 ratio.

I've also done pizza on the grill, which is great. I usually make an eggplant caviar to spread on top of it too.


Goat said...

Small price to pay for such a good pizza--

There are advantages to being the goat!!

DogsDontPurr said...

If you peel the squished piece of garlic out of the crusher the minute after you're done crushing, then immediately soak the crusher in some water, it'll be a snap to clean later. The key is to not let the garlic dry in there.

Al The Retired Army Guy said...

@ MR: Try your local hardware store for a stone - you can often find unglazed tiles which make a fine pizza stone.


Erin O'Brien said...

Ruhlman's pizza recipe.

I used four unglazed pavers as my "stone" for years. They work great.

dean said...

Hey Al, good info re: the 5:3 thing. Of course that only works by weight, so I will need to get myself a kitchen scale.

O'brien, I am going to have to make pizza soon.

Michael Lawless said...

I Goat cheese unimaginable?

Anonymous said...

Thanks to Al and Erin for the tip about the stone-it's so obvious that I never imagined it could be that simple!

carolefun said...

you know you are REALLY broke when you use 2 slices white bread, slightly watered down generic tomato paste, garlic powder and bits of fried bologna. i ate that. once.