Pizza

I decided to make pizza.

"But Father! But Father!", you might be saying.  "Why pizza?  Are you watching a ball game?"

No ball game.  But I found a package of sliced pepperoni sausage in my freezer archive which a past guest must have brought… some time.

I couldn’t find my little camera for some reason so I used my phone. 

So… behold a floured wooden board.

Sadly two of the photos of the dough stage, didn’t turn out.  Sorry.

Onto the round pan and the oven at 425F.

After a few minutes to firm it up, I started with the sauce… American style today… lots of sauce.  I made this sauce a while back and froze it.  It has onions, lots of garlic, basil, oregano and lots of hot pepper, or the real pepperoncino.

Some of the packaged food product which in American stores is risibly called "mozzarella" and laughably called "parmesan" cheese.

Put on the sliced "pepperoni", which oddly are not red bell peppers, but ought to be.

I don’t know how many times in Italy I heard the tale of American tourists ordering "pepperoni" for their pizza and having the shock of red peppers and no sausage.

Bake for a while.

The next time I do something like this, I will make a different kind of sauce, a different range of flavors.  I think I will take it in the direction of fennel and more oregano.

The "pepperoni" was a little oily, coming from the onion, so I used some paper towel to dab it up.

Not bad.  The crust is very thin and very crisp.  It is not as good as a properly made wood-oven Roman style pizza, but it isn’t bad. 

I am not particularly good at anything involving dough, or resembling bread.  No… really.  Still, at no time did this pizza touch cardboard.

So… some frozen stuff, left over from who knows when, an oven, some beer, a little time… pizza.

There might be enough left over for breakfast.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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23 Responses to Pizza

  1. biberin says:

    Fr. Z, I was a little surprised by your photos, because I fully expected to see a pizza stone! You might consider adding one to your wishlist if you plan to make pizza again :)

  2. Girgadis says:

    I was wondering when we would see photos of your latest epicurean adventure. My pizza is only semi-homemade. I live within a stone’s throw of 3 different Italian bakeries who always have plenty of their dough available. The kitchen stays a lot neater that way, too. A favorite that I concocted was a pesto/provolone/brocoli rabe combination, topped with a little hot pepper and buffala mozzerella. Aside from the mozzerella I had the other ingredients on hand and wanted to make use of them. Isn’t it great when you can combine frugality with a little imagination and come up with something delicious?

  3. Girgadis says:

    ooops, there I go again- mozzarella

  4. Federico says:

    If you ever have the interest…I suspect you’ve lived in Rome long enough to have suffered from the same “crisi di astinenza” that I have. From Pizza Bianca.

    Ah, I grew up on it, stuffed with “Mortazza,” Mortadella by any other name.

    When I first ventured far from the place of my birth, I made due by stocking up and filling the freezer of my new residence with all the Pizza Bianca I could fit. This worked when I lived within reasonable distance of Rome. My days in Trento were survived in this way. Too, when I moved further away, to Athens, I stuffed my suitcase with the precious stuff (to be fair, I once carried a Cassata from Palermo to my house in Greece, but that’s another story). So there, too, I survived my time by the Aegean.

    Then I moved to the US.

    Ouch.

    Many people would hear descriptions and say “oh, it’s just focaccia, try this, try that.” Nothing compares. I’d heard it all before, from the Genovese suggesting their Focaccia would be even better, to the Tuscans suggesting Schiacciata (ma non fatemi ridere!) would do. No, I was really in quite a crisis.

    So I began experimenting.

    I can’t tell you how much I’ve experimented. I’ve tried weak flours, strong flours, different varieties of wheat, yeasts, ratios. My American born wife thought I was, well, let’s call it “eccentric.”

    I’ve finally done it. I can create, at will, a substance that is remarkably like Pizza Bianca (it’s closer than focaccia Genovese and relieves my withdrawal symptoms fully).

    All that…to tell you that if you are interested, I might share the recipe.

    :-)

  5. maynardus says:

    Mmmm! Have you ever tried using a regular (gas) barbecue grille as a pizza oven? I thought it was some weird novelty, but in the absemce of a real pizza oven our grille definitely beats the oven in our kitchen. Worth a try.

  6. Federico says:

    Hi Maynardus, a BBQ grill is good for pizza because it can get hotter than a household oven and provides some radiation back down towards the pizza. The ideal stone pizza oven, in fact, does not really rely on the air temperature to cook pizza. A traditional pizza dough is a relatively highly hydrated dough that is cooked from the bottom and from the top by radiation (and contact on the bottom, although the radiative content is higher).

    What I do is preheat my household oven to 250C/550F and then turn on the broiler when the pizza goes in. Total cooking time is less than 2 minutes.

    By the way, I owe this technique to the genius Adriano, who runs the site http://profumodilievito.blogspot.com and whose pizza recipe is found at http://profumodilievito.blogspot.com/2007/09/la-pizza-al-piatto-con-metodo-poolish.html

  7. wmeyer says:

    I might suggest more basil, and less oregano. And easy on the fennel, which might otherwise overpower. But in the end, it has much to do with one’s particular sense of what pizza ought to be.

  8. gsarrazo says:

    Mmmmmm…too bad you can’t add a “WDTPTL” (What Does the Pizza Taste Like) line of frozen Fr. Z pizzas to the WFTPRS stores. It looks delicious!

  9. maynardus says:

    Hmmm, I’ll try the broiler trick. It gets a little cold outside in February and since we’ve been living so far South of Boston my favorite pizzeria is almost an hour away. To me the (thin) crust is key and the oven – actually the heat – definitely makes or breaks the texture of the crust. But I’m only a dumb 1/2-Mick, 1/2-Canuck (OK, part Yankee too) so I depend upon the real masters for pizza-making know-how – thanks for the tips!

  10. Federico: I know what you mean about the pizza bianca. I can smell it. As a matter of fact, there was a little forno near my church in Velletri… a few times I got coals from the wood oven from them in the thurible before Mass and pizza bianca or other bread after.  In Rome I get pizza bianca all the time… course salt… oil. 

  11. dimsum says:

    Looks good. Hope you had some good “pi-jiu” along with it.

  12. robtbrown says:

    Federico,

    Pizza Capricciosa!!!!

    In the States I just go to Papa Murphy’s.

  13. Brian Day says:

    Question:
    So what is the Italian term for the sausage that we call pepperoni?

  14. Joanne says:

    Have to say, that is one gosh darn YUMMY-looking pizza!

  15. JohnE says:

    Watch out Bobby Flay!

  16. Robert_H says:

    Cold pizza for breakfast is one of my favorites.

  17. pattif says:

    Father – Your comment about American visitors to Rome being surprised when their pepperoni pizza does not match their expectations reminds me of my favourite Roman pizzeria, makers of the best pizza marinara on the planet. They tell me they are obliged to warn Americans who order it not to expect seafood on it (after several visits over a period of years, I finally convinced them that they could dispense with the warning in my case).

  18. thefeds says:

    While in Rome in 2002, we stayed with my brother and sister-in-law who lived across the street from the Motherhouse of the Comboni Missioners (South of EUR district). Just down the street was a great restaurant that fed alot of the workers in the neighborhood, who always received a paid lunch as part of their day’s wages. What we in America would call a Pepperoni Pizza was referred to as a Pizza con Salumi alla Diavola. The crust was so perfect, you wouldn’t balk at eating it plain. I truly love living in Livermore, but I would be supremely happy to have a legitimate reason to move to Roma!

  19. Fr. John Mary says:

    I’m with you, Fr. Z, I loooove pizza for breakfast!

  20. adt6247 says:

    Father,

    Pizza sauce is easy — doesn’t even need cooking beforehand. Just tomatos, oregano, garlic, salt, and extra-virgin olive oil. Dice or crush or blend the tomatoes coarsely, and mix in the other ingredients to taste. This is how my very Italian grandmother did it.

    As for “American style” meaning lots of sauce… I grew up in NJ, and live near NYC, so maybe I just don’t know how the rest of the country does it, but good street pizza does NOT have lots of sauce.

  21. irishgirl says:

    I love pizza for breakfast, too!

    Yours looked good, Fr. Z…you’re making me hungry!

    I don’t think I ever had ‘real’ honest-to-goodness pizza when I visited Italy!

  22. Lucas says:

    Brian Day: If you get technical, there is no such thing as Pepperoni in Italy. There is Calabrese salami which comes close, but nothing is called pepperoni. It is strictly a American invention. Calabrese salami is super tasty cut thickly, fried and served with pasta.

    Regarding “Pepperoni” pizza in Italy, my parents(we are all Italian), encouraged me to order that telling me I would get what I ordered. Sure enough, a pizza filled with peppers showed up. I learned my lesson real quick.