Pizza Night

by NICHOLAS AMMATURO on May 23rd, 2010

Who doesn’t love pizza? Well I am sure the Atkins diet doesn’t, but that is just silly. Being from New York, I was born to eat pizza, being Italian, I was born to make it. Every Friday night at my parents house, there is bound to be a pizza in the oven. If there isn’t a pizza in the oven, then we are in the car on our way to Vermont, and stopped for pizza along the way. Everyone has their comfort food, be it fried chicken, cupcakes, taffy, mine is pizza.

Now that I am on my own, I need to keep the tradition alive and make pizza every Friday night. On the Menu tonight: Cheese Pizza, BBQ Chicken Pizza, Sausage & Green Olive Pizza and last but not least mushroom & goat cheese pizza.

Once you see how easy it is to make your own pizza, you will think twice about ordering in delivery. Now you can certainly make your own dough and I have several times, but I would rather focus my attention on the toppings and let the dough be made by the pros. Believe it or not, a pizzeria will sell you plain dough. The prices can range anywhere from $2.00 to $4.00 for a large dough, it depends how much they want to rip us off. I purchased 4 large dough’s and then cut 2 of them in half to create 4 small ones.

This Friday I cooked 2 large pizza’s in the oven and 4 small pizza’s on the grill. You can go either way here, but I would suggest trying to grill your own pizza sometime. It tastes like it was cooked in a brick over, without the investment of Italian bricks. I will show you the basics of both methods and then you can get as creative you would like with the toppings.

Ingredients

PLAIN CHEESE PIZZA

  • 1 large dough
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1-2 cups tomato sauce (home made or store bought)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh Basil torn into small pieces

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F

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For this pizza, I decided to bake it in the oven, just like my mother would do every Friday. Using a rimmed baking sheet, whether it be round or square, drizzle the pan with oil. Then you need to stretch the dough to fit the pan. There is no need to throw the pizza in the air, you can certainly try. I grab the edges and hold it up so the dough naturally starts to stretch. You can also make fists and put the dough over it and slowly expand it.

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Since I am using a rectangular baking sheet, I need to stretch it a little more one side then the other. It doesn’t need to be perfect, it just needs to fit inside the pan. The imperfections are what makes this pizza yours.

 

DSC_0143Now that the dough is in the pan, I spread the sauce onto the dough with a spoon. I leave about an inch or so of the edge un-sauced, so there is a crust.

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Once the sauce is on the pizza, you can place is in the pre-heated oven and bake until the bottom is golden brown. It takes 10-15 mins to get the bottom golden. Depending on your oven, the time can vary. The easiest way to know, is to take a fork and lift the dough up to see the bottom. Once it’s golden brown. Take it out of the oven, sprinkle it with the grated parmesan cheese and then sprinkle with the torn basil. Then evenly sprinkle the shredded mozzarella over the pizza. Place back into the oven until it reaches the desired crispiness. I like my pizza well done, so I leave it in a little longer.

BBQ CHICKEN PIZZA

Ingredients

  • 1 large dough
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast, sliced
  • 1 cup BBQ sauce
  • 1/2 cup shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese
  • 1/2 cup shredded smoked gouda
  • sliced red onion
  • 2 TBLS chopped cilantro

For the BBQ chicken pizza, I do the same as I did for the Plain Cheese Pizza, but instead of spreading the tomato sauce onto the dough, I spread a 1/2 cup of BBQ sauce. Dice the chicken up and saute in a saute pan until fully cooked through, add the remaining 1/2 cup BBQ sauce and cook until the chicken is coated well with the BBQ sauce.

Place the dough w/ the BBQ sauce into the oven and bake until the bottom is golden brown

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Remove the dough from the oven. Sprinkle the prepared chicken evenly onto the dough, sprinkle with the fresh chopped cilantro, sprinkle the shredded cheeses evenly over the pizza and top with the red onion circles. Bake until cheese is melted.

SAUSAGE & GREEN OLIVE PIZZA

Ingredients

  • 1 large pizza dough (cut in half and formed into 2 rounds)
  • Package of sweet or spicy Italian sausage
  • Jar of Green Spanish Olives, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 cup tomato sauce

This can be done in the same fashion as the above pizza’s, however I decided to grill these ones. Shape the dough’s into round circles, rub both sides with olive oil and place directly on a hot grill. I have a pizza grate that I bought from Crate & Barrel specifically for this purpose, but I have done it directly on the grill before I knew about the pan, so either way is fine. Grill one side until golden brown, and slightly burnt, then slip over with thongs and grill the other side. You are looking for the grill marks on both sides.

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Meanwhile, remove the sausage links from their casings and sauté in a medium skillet.

Break up the pieces with a wooden spoon, the smaller the better. Once cooked completely, I drain off some of the grease and set aside.

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Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce onto the grilled dough and top with half the sausage and a handful of sliced olives. Sprinkle with half of the shredded mozzarella and bring back to the grill to finish until cheese is melted.

Slice and enjoy.

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MUSHROOM & GOAT CHEESE PIZZA

Ingredients

  • 1 large dough (cut in half and formed into 2 rounds)
  • 2 Packages of cremini mushrooms sliced
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cloves garlic (sliced in half)

Follow the same instructions above for grilled the dough. Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms in a pan with a little oil and garlic.

Remove from the saute pan and drain off the liquid. Spread the mushrooms on the grilled dough’s and sprinkle with crumbled goat cheese.

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Place back on the grill until goat cheese starts to brown, remove from the grill and lightly drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

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