(Homemade pizza - recipe in post)
I always used to say, any pizza is good pizza. But then I made my first fresh, homemade, hot out of the oven pie... and I realized just how amazing pizza can be. With all fresh ingredients and homemade dough, I've become so spoiled I turn up my nose at the greasy mess served at most restaurants.
When The Dad mentioned he was making his own sausage, homemade pizza instantly came to mind. Needless to say, he was on board! He picked the toppings, and I made the pie.
Pizza sauce tends to get overlooked - so easy to buy a jar from the store - but it's one of the most important components. So instead of going with store bought, I opted to make my own.
This is beyond easy to make, and is great to have on hand - store it in the fridge, or freeze it for later use. Perfect for pizzas, but just as great for pasta or casseroles. Not overly fancy on its own, but easy to spruce up with extra herbs or spices... this is my new go-to tomato sauce!
Despite already having a decent dough recipe, I couldn't help but try Jamie Oliver's. After hearing how incredible it was, my expectations were high... but I was not disappointed! This dough is so simple to make, and can easily be made in advance and stored in the fridge or freezer. The full recipe makes plenty to keep on hand, pulling off what you need as you need it. The only change I made to the base recipe was to add a handful of garlic powder, for just a touch more flavor. After experiencing this crust, I can't imagine going back to any other recipe. It's crispy, chewy, browns perfectly, and has great flavor. What more could anyone ask for?
Basic Pizza Sauce
(Makes about 2 - 2.5 cups)
2 TBSP olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
3 large hothouse or heirloom tomatoes, diced (or about 2lbs. other tomato variety - Roma will have less liquid, and are great for sauces)
1 TBSP dried oregano
2 tsp. fresh or dried thyme
2 tsp. sugar
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
For the pizza:
8-10 oz. pizza dough
3-4 TBSP pizza sauce
cheese and toppings of choice
In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute garlic until golden and fragrant. Add the tomatoes, oregano, thyme, sugar, and half of the fresh basil. Adjust heat to simmer, and let cook uncovered for about 30 minutes, or until reduced by about half. Stir in the rest of the basil, and season to taste with salt, pepper, and cayenne.
Remove from heat and let cool. Transfer to a jar or other airtight container and store in the fridge for up to a couple of weeks, or freeze.
For the pizza:
Preheat oven to 500f.
Roll/stretch dough into a 10-12 inch circle. Place it on pizza peel (or cutting board) dusted with cornmeal or semolina flour to keep it from sticking. Brush the outer edge of the crust with olive oil, and sprinkle with more cornmeal or semolina (or sprinkle with garlic, ranch, or cajun seasoning).
Spread a few TBSP of sauce over the dough (not too much, or else it will be soggy) and top as you like. If using fresh mozzarella, be sure to thoroughly drain the liquid.
There are a couple different methods for baking a pizza:
1. If you have a pizza stone, or an air-bake pizza tray, preheat the oven to 500f. with the stone in it at least 20-30 minutes before assembling your pizza. Carefully slide the pizza onto the hot stone, and bake for 7-8 minutes. Turn the oven to broil, and bake for another 1-2 minutes to brown the top.
2. Or, you can use a large cast-iron skillet or griddle. Preheat the oven to 500f., and place the cast iron pan on the stove. Heat the pan over high heat for 6-8 minutes - this time may vary depending on your stove, but be sure not to go any longer as over-heating the pan will cause your crust to burn. Carefully slide the prepared pizza into the hot skillet, and quickly (and carefully, using oven mitts) move the hot pan to the preheated oven. Bake for 6-7 minutes, then turn on the broiler for 1-2 minutes to brown the top. Remove the pan from the oven, and let it rest for 1-2 minutes before sliding out of the pan.
I've found this method works just as well if not better than a pizza stone for getting a crispy bottom crust, but note that it can be very tricky to slide the pizza into a skillet with high sides. You can see my post on making a pizza in this way here: Project Pizza.
It had been awhile since I made my own pizza, and after some recent disappointments with delivery, this really hit the spot. Topped with fresh mozzarella, onions, peppers, and The Dad's incredible spiced sausage... I couldn't get enough. The Dad dubbed it as one of the best pizza's he'd eaten, which, coming from a Chicago native, is a true mark of success!
Beyond making a delicious meal, this pizza helped to make a perfect Father's Day. Helped, because the best part was spending time with my dad. It seems that ever since I went and got all grow'd up, I've been too busy to just sit down and spend time with my family. Taking the day to talk and catch up was more than a gift to my dad, it was a gift to me too. Happy Father's Day, Dad!