Saturday, July 25, 2015

Homemade Pizza Pie

Many years ago, my folks started getting deliveries from Sysco, which is basically a restaurant supplier. My dad placed the order and handled the boxes that arrived. That lasted for a few years, and during that time, their freezers and cupboards were full all the time. Joycie and Sammy loved it. Gramma and Grampa had HUGE boxes of Honey Nut Cheerios and Oreos. Then a Sam's Club came to a nearby town and then Gordon's, and so on. No more Sysco deliveries. I think they quit doing residential orders. I think my dad is still using styrofoam cups and lids from those Sysco years...

One thing they always had was frozen pizza dough balls. Dad and Mom would make the best pizza. Usually just tomato sauce with very few if any spices, lotsa, lotsa cheese and spicy good pepperoni. Really good pizza. Then, as it usually goes, the homemade pizza time waned.

I made a ton of pizza during that time, too. Had a lot of pizza parties. Bought some great pizza pans on sale after Christmas one year, the insulated kind with holes in it to make a nice well-baked bottom crust. I bought 8 of those large pizza pans, and used all 8 of them on many, many evenings.

We still buy take out pizza all the time. Last week, we spent over $55 on 2 pizzas and breadsticks from a local pizzeria (not a chain). Really good pizza. But then we make our own, and wonder why we ever buy pizza. Ours is so much better.

Now that it's usually just me and Kev for dinner, my favorite pan to make pizza in is an old Sunbeam electric fry pan; the kind that unscrews from the plastic feet and handles. That leaves a screw on the bottom of the pan, so it doesn't set on my counter flat... but three thick hand-crocheted potholders that my Mom made do the trick. It makes a nice kind of deep dish pizza. Thick crust anyway. Yum.

A few years ago, I caught a TV show on one of the food channels that is about 2 guys from New Jersey (I think) that go around and highlight pizzerias. Kinda like Diners, Drive-ins & Dives, only all pizza, all the time. They were at Buddy's in Detroit, and they showed how they make pizza there. Cheese on the dough then sauce. That's my style now, too.

I buy frozen pizza dough balls from Gordon's, the 17 oz. size. They come larger, I think, but 17 oz. is perfect.

I get a couple of balls out of the freezer in the morning, put them each in a gallon-size bag and liberally add olive oil. Then moosh them around in the bag so the dough and bag are both coated well with the oil. If I get them out later than planned, I'll set them on the stove top and turn the oven on.

Then let them set all day.  They thaw and rise.

When I'm ready to make the pizza, I turn the oven on to regular bake (not convection) to 500 degrees F. It takes my oven quite a while to get to 500 degrees. Then I, once again liberally, coat the bottom of my pan with olive oil.  Liberally and olive oil are words that go together often in our kitchen. Then put the dough in the pan; it deflates as you do it. Because I use so much olive oil, the dough slips right out of the bag.

I push the dough around and stretch it here and there to fill out the pan. Then I sprinkle on garlic powder, salt and pepper. I know the pepper is kinda odd, but Kev and I love black pepper. Next is the cheese. I don't use mozarella; I use a cheese I buy from an Amish store called "Farmer's Cheese." It's a kinda soft cheese, like moz, but it's creamier... it's really, really good. I buy a whole log of it at the store's deli counter, then take it home, cut it in chunks and freeze it. Sometimes I shred it and sometimes I just crumble it apart.

I use a LOT of cheese for one pizza. Then I put on the sauce, which for this pizza is plain tomato paste to which I added some beef broth to thin it out just a bit. I also use just tomato sauce (a large can) to which I add paste (a small can). Whatever is handy and whatever I feel like using. No herbs. I usually make more than I need, so I freeze the rest in bags, each bag enough for one pizza. It's pretty handy, coz I just cut the corner off the bag and squirt it all over. I also have been using a lot of Vadalia onions that I froze. I got them on sale (19 cents per pound!) and bought a huge bag, peeled them, cut them in half, sealed them in bags and froze them. I take them out of the freezer, in the microwave for 15 seconds, and easy to cut and slice. So easy and so good. Just as I was finishing making our pizza, Joycie called me and suggested putting parmesan cheese around the edge, so I did that this time. I had sent home a bag of dough for Joyce and Mike to make for their dinner (Joyce had the really good parm, I had the standard Kraft). Good call, Joycie!

Then I wait, for the oven, and also for the pizza dough and toppings to get to know one another really well while they're waiting in that pan. It's really good if you can just let it rest for about a half hour or more even. Since Kev was still outside working when I made this pizza, I had plenty of time to wait. Then into the oven, and for this pizza that's just cheese and onion (my fav), 8 minutes, turn the pan so the front's to the back for even baking, and then another 5 minutes. (With more toppings, more like 8 minutes then another 8 or 9 minutes. Not long though, coz 500 is pretty hot.)

Smells so good. And because of the liberally applied olive oil, nice and crispy, and slips right out of the pan onto the cutting board.

Two pieces is super filling. Kev ate 3 and then took the last 3 into work for his lunch the next day.

It's not really good to nuke the leftover pieces... soggyish. Kev put them in foil and heated them up in the toaster oven they have at work. Really excellent that way.

This pizza was so good, that I made pizza again last night. Cheeseburger pizza, which is ketchup squirted on top of the sauce (that's on top of the Farmer's cheese), then fried ground beef (lots of it, and fried really dark), then onion, then some good shredded cheddar, then a bit more sauce (tomato sauce and paste this time) with a little more squirts of ketchup. Freakin' yum!

And the best part, easy clean up, and doesn't cost $55...

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