Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Six Characters in Search of a Pizza

Allow me to begin like this: I am from New York. Not cow country New York, or "on a mission from God" New York; I'm talking "how ya doin'," "fuggedaboudit," "I'll have a large regulah cawfee" New York. People from New York have strong feelings about a lot of things, most pressingly things like bagels and baseball and... pizza.

Now, I agree that the best pizza in the world is found in the New York metro area, but I must admit my favorite pizza has... pineapple on it. Not very New York. But tasty, in my book, which is the only book that matters to me. (Reminder: due to staining, stop putting pizza in book.) I live in Los Angeles now, where pineapple is a very accepted pizza additive... if you want to call it pizza. Anyway, it's very simple to make your own pizza at home. Grab a ready-made pizza dough from the supermarket (they have them in NY... I have yet to see any in LA, though...) or go to your favorite local pizza place and see if they'll sell you some on the cheap. If you're up for the challenge and have some time to kill, you can make your own pizza dough—check out The Joy of Cooking.

In any case, get your dough ready however you must (instructions on package/advice from pizza man/wise words from Joy) and preheat your oven to 475°F. Break out a large baking sheet and brush on some olive oil and sprinkle on some cornmeal. Stretch out your dough to fit on the baking sheet; you want it to be pretty thin for the most part and thick on the outside for the crust. You can form the crust by rolling or pinching the dough from the middle to the outside.

This one's kind of square. Make yours whatever shape you want.
Tap your fingers all over the dough to make it a little dented. Brush on some olive oil and let it sit for 10 minutes. It needs to meditate on the fragility of life and the meaning of existence. In the meantime, prepare your toppings. (Just about anything can be a pizza topping. Mozzarella cheese is the classic covering. Vegetables are always a good addition, and a few fruits make the cut, too, like pineapple. Meat is a pleasant companion, if you're into that sort of thing. I recommend bacon to go with pineapple and red pepper. That is, when I'm not cooking for a vegetarian...)

Mozzarella cheese, pineapple, and red pepper.
Using a ladle or large spoon, put some of your favorite pasta sauce in the middle of the dough and spread it out in circles, making sure to get even coverage.

The ladle is classic.
Add spices and/or minced garlic if you'd like. (I like. I added a heavy pinch of dried minced garlic, a very heavy pinch of basil, and a light pinch of thyme.) Sprinkle on the cheese evenly, then distribute your toppings for maximum coverage. Throw the thing in the oven in the bottom rack and set your timer for 12 minutes.
Use an oven thermometer if you don't trust your oven, like I do. (We have issues.)
After that, keep checking to see what the bottom looks like; it's done when the bottom is starting to brown. Let it cool a bit, slice (not on the pan if it's coated!), and serve.

In New York, we call this a pie. Don't be alarmed.
For an authentic New York experience, enjoy your pizza with some garlic knots and a cold Brooklyn Lager. You do know what garlic knots are... don't you?

(Confession: Sometimes I leave leftover pizza on the counter overnight and eat it cold for breakfast in the morning. It's not just me... right?)

Title inspiration: Six Characters in Search of an Author (or Sei personaggi in cerca d'autore), "a comedy in the making" by Luigi Pirandello. Premiered at the Valle Theatre in Rome in 1921.

1 comment:

  1. Chicago pizza is nothing like NY pizza... I have yet to find GOOD pizza. ugh. so bummed. I need some good ol' Collesseo. btw, i enjoy your blog. :o)