Pizza is one of those things those things that, even if it’s bad, it’s still pretty good and its history goes back a lot further than you might realize. Think about it, when early man first started to make bread, do you really think that it was much more than an ash covered slab? Of course he threw whatever else he had on top of it. Looking at it like this you could say that what we know of today as pizza is one of the oldest dishes in human history.
Of course the Italians perfected it and turned it into what we know and love today. Ahhh, but keep in mind, Tomatoes weren’t added until the sometime in the 1800’s since they were a New World fruit and thought to be poisonous since they’re part of the nightshade family.
Once the Italians mastered the art, they were nice enough to bring it over to the states, once again showing that diversity is awesome. The first real Pizzaria was Lombardi’s opened in New York in 1897 as a grocery store selling Tomato Pies. In 1905 they were granted a licence to operate a full Pizzaria making history. In the mid 80’s they shut down for a few years before being reopened by the grandson of the original owners.
If you want to have a slice at the oldest continually operating pizza shop in the country, you gotta head south to Jersey where Poppas Tomato Pies has been serving pizza non stop since 1912. These folks are the reason you can get a slice late night since they would stay open until three am to feed the factory workers and bar crowd.
In Chicago, they have this dish that the they swear is Pizza. It’s like the guy at the Greyhound station trying to sell me “Dank budz”. I’ve lived in Chicago, I tried to like it, I really did but it’s not Pizza. If you want great Pizza in the windy city, you have to go to Naperville of all places. **** Full disclosure I worked this place twice*** Little Poppas is well worth the drive. I’ve eaten a lot of good Pizza but this stuff is great. I also know for a fact that the guy uses the best stuff he can find, they make damn near everything except the Fried Ravioli from scratch and that it’s some of the best you’ll find anywhere. It’s a small Mom and Pop Place and if you go, don’t mention me until after you get your order. Oh, and if you see Mike grab a Vodka bottle, duck!
The beauty of Pizza is its simplicity, the fact that it’s just a few, quality ingredients make with love and a little time. The foundation of this is the crust, the palate on which you paint. Making dough from scratch is a lot easier than you think though it might take you a time or two to get the process down. Having a stone helps but if you have a regular metal Pizza pan, that works fine as well. I don’t have a stone of my own yet.
Note, the recipe (and omits sugar) in the photo only makes one but who eats just one pizza? The recipe as follows will make enough dough for two nice size pies depending on how thin you stretch it.
- A clean surface to work on
- A mixing bowl
- A digital thermometer (see notes)
- Plastic Wrap
- 4 teaspoons of yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 12 oz warm water
- 24 oz flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons of Olive Oil
Method of Preparation
- Mix the Yeast, Sugar and Warm water
- Once the yeast develops, add the salt and oil and then mix in the flour a little at a time til you have a nice ball.
- Kneed it on a clean counter space for about 2-3 minutes and then wash and dry the bowl.
- Coat the bowl with a little oil then place the dough ball in and cover with plastic.
- Let it rest and rise for about an hour then you can roll it out and make Pizza.
- Bread making 101: If the water is too hot, it will kill the yeast, if it’s too cold, the yeast won’t grow. Either way it won’t rise properly. If you’ve made bread enough times, you know how warm the water needs to be, if not you can get one for $10 here and it’s worth it since you also need it for Frying at home.
- The first few that you make are not going to be pretty. They’re still going to taste good but don’t freak out if they’re not perfectly round, I’m not judging and ugly homemade pizza is still better than a factory made frozen one anyday.
- Bonus points for making your own sauce which is easy to do while you’re waiting on the dough to rise.
- This dough is great on it’s own with just a little olive oil and some fresh herbs
- As far as how long and what temp you need to bake it, this depends on how thin you roll your dough and how hot your oven is but typically 10-15 minutes at 350. Watch and wait till the edges start to brown.
- Once you’ve made this a few times, it will be second nature while giving you a new level of respect for the guys spinning pies late into the night and feeding the masses
And as always
Cook Like You Fuck