Mmmmm pizza. Everyone loves a good pizza, and everyone especially loves a good neopolitan pizza. You know what I'm talking about. The kind with the crust that is crispy and charred on the outside, but still chewy on the inside. With the simple sauce, fresh, browned and bubbly mozzarella, and delicious but not overhwhelming toppings.
|Woah, did somebody say pizza?|
The problem of course is that you can usually only find pizzas like this when they're cooked in a wood-fired pizza oven. The temperatures that those ovens produce (700 - 1000 degrees) is what allows it to get charred and remain chewy. But home ovens don't go that high, and wood-fired ovens are expensive to buy and probably dangerous to make on your own.
Well... we've got a solution for that. This method will let you make a pretty-close version of this pizza in your own home, quickly and easily. It's a huge crowd pleaser and is great for any occasion.
This is probably the most important part and it consists of a few compontents: flour, yeast, salt, water, sugar. And olive oil.
|This is bread flour. Looks like regular flour. Makes better pizza.|
The flour you want is type "OO" this is finer milled but still has a high level of protein. The protein will help give you the stretchiness and chewiness that we love so much. Bread flour is a great substitute. The sugar is added to provide more food for the yeast and also helps to brown the dough nicely when it's cooking. The salt you add to give the dough some flavor, but not too much salt or else it will taste, well, salty.
And olive oil? Yes, olive oil. This is suggested in Mario Batli's Molto Gusto and adds a rich complexity to the dough that brings it above and beyond your normal pizza-at-home expectations.
|Yea, we're really recommending you add olive oil to your pizza dough.|
The full recipe with the specified amounts is on the next page.
To make the dough, combine all your ingredients and mix together. Then, on a floured suraface, knead the dough constantly for about 15 minutes. Once you've finished kneading, put it in a lightly oiled bowl and leave it covered in a warm place for a couple of hours, until it has doubled in size.
Dough, in ball form.
After it's risen, punch it back down, and divide it into four pieces. Let those pieces stand again in a warm area for about 15 minutes. They'll get a touch bigger. Now it's time to start shaping your crusts.
Now comes the fun part, and the real trick to our recipe. Get a griddle or a large (really large) non-stick skillet and preheat to about 375 - 400 degrees. What you're going to do is parbake the crust so that it gets nice and browned
|Gentle there...don't want to tear it!|
Start to gently pull out the dough into a circle. You'll want to do this gently so as not to tear it. You're going for about a 9 inch diameter. Once you've got it, slide it onto your heated suface. Let it cook here for about 2 - 3 minutes. This will give your dough a nice brown bottom. Flip it over and cook on the top briefly, and then the crust is pretty much done. Do this for your other four custs as well.
|Our arguably mis-shapen pizza dough parbakes on the hot griddle. Notice how it is nicely browned. This is what will make it delicious (although, ours could probably due to be more browned).|
|If only this were what we chopped up for every meal...|
Now is the time to get inventive. You'll want to use a sauce that is pure canned tomatoes with just a touch of salt, and not much else. You'll also want to use real fresh buffalo mozzarella. Slice it up or break it up and scatter it all over the top of your pizza. Or, use pecorino romano and no mozzarella. Or use simply garlic and olive oil. It really is up to you. One thing to remember though, is to not go overboard. It has to be a balanced effort. You want your toppings to compliment the experience, not overwhelm it, and this shouldn't be the kind of pizza you have to eat with a fork and knife.
|Spreading the tomato sauce onto the dough.|
For our four pizzas we used what we had onhand to create some nice combinations. We had olives, sundried tomatoes, garlic, parsley, and prosciutto. So here's what we did:
Pizza 1: Tomato sauce, pecorino, prosciutto. After cooking, drizzled over olive oil and a touch of balsamic vinager. AMAZING.
Pizza 2: Tomato sauce, touch of pecorino, mozzarella, olives, sundried tomatoes. After cooking, drizzed with olive oil. ALSO AMAZING.
Pizza 3: Tomato sauce, lots of garlic, mozarella, sundried tomatoes. After cooking, frozen for later consumption. CAN'T WAIT TO EAT.
Pizza 4: Tomato sauce, mozarella, parsley, olives. After cooking, frozen for later consumption. CAN'T WAIT TO EAT.
After we had topped our pizzas, they were ready to go in the oven for cooking. The cooking method recommended here, since you've already parbaked the bottom, is the broiler. It's quicker to prepare (no preheating required) and gives you that radiant heat that allows for the nice charring effect that you want in this style of pizza. Under a medium-high broil, slide in your pizzas and let cook for about 6 - 8 minutes or until it's reached your desired level of doneness.
|Putting prosciutto pizza into the broiler.|
Once it's done, take it out, let stand for a few minutes, slice, and eat. You can top with olive oil, balsamic (wow, yes, really good), more cheese, parsley, chile flakes... really whatever you want. Then just sit back and enjoy your chewy delicious pizza goodness.
|You all mind if I just lay down for a while? I'm pretty stuffed after all that pizza...|
With the sparse ingredients we had on hand we were able to pull together four really good pizzas. We enjoyed two and saved the other two for later. That's the other nice thing about this recipe - they can be popped directly into the freezer and then reheated in the toaster oven when you're ready to eat them (at least, I hope, because I'm really looking forward to it!).
This is probably the best way I've ever prepared pizza at home, or seen it prepared at home, so it's definitely worth giving a try. And the next time you're having friends over for a gamewatch, it's probably worth showing off, as you'll be proclaimed the unanimous best chef they know!
Check out the dough recipe and more pictures of Herbie after the jump!
- 1 1/4 cups warm water (95 degrees) - (make sure the water is not too hot, otherwise you'll kill the yeast and the dough won't rise)
- One 1/4 ounce package active dry yeast
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 3 1/2 cups "00" flour (we use bread flour)
- Scant 2 tablespoons salt
- 1/4 cup evoo
More Pictures of Herbie