Pizza is quite possibly my favorite food. I’m not referring to take-out pizza, which has its place, but the high-quality, made-from-scratch with fresh ingredients kind of pizza that somehow seems like an entirely different food group than the stuff that shows up at the door in a box. It’s so easy, and so cheap to make your own pizza at home from scratch. Make yourself a good pizza dough, and then the rest is all up to you. Whether you like anchovies & capers (ahem, Hubby), ham & pineapple, or tomato/basil/fresh mozzarella (my two favorites), or just the good ole standby of pepperoni. Or how could I forget breakfast pizza? That’s another one of my favorites, for sure. This time we topped our pizza with olive oil, Roma tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella, and strips of grilled chicken breast (basically a Pizza Margherita with grilled chicken). Whatever you’ve got laying around, just go for it!
If you want the best possible results for your homemade pizza, I find that these few tips make all the difference. You might already do these things, but they’re good reminders:
1. Invest in a pizza stone or cast iron pizza pan, and a pizza peel (the wooden board with a handle). I have both a stone and a cast iron pan and I love them. The cast iron is admittedly a more versatile purchase. It can be used on the grill. I have used it on the stove top to make pancakes and bacon. I love baking scones and biscuits on it. The possibilities are endless. Plus, it isn’t fragile like a stone is.
2. Give your oven plenty of time to preheat. You want it really HOT! Place the pizza stone in the oven and then preheat it, allowing the stone to get really hot.
3. Prepare the pizza on the pizza peel sprinkled with a little bit of cornmeal, which will prevent the dough from sticking to the board and will make it easier to slide the pizza onto the stone in the oven.
4. Use good quality ingredients.
You don’t need a lot of ingredients for a pizza, so try to use fresh produce (mushrooms, spinach, etc.) whenever possible.
I am a huge fan of fresh mozzarella, so we almost always have some in our fridge.
Make your own marinara and keep it in small jars in the freezer, then you can just thaw it in the fridge overnight and you’re ready for pizza night.
5. Allow the dough to rest before rolling out the crust. If you find that your dough is not stretching out and holding its shape like you want, just cover it with some plastic wrap and walk away from it for 10 minutes. The gluten needs time to relax, and then it will be much more cooperative.
This is my favorite recipe for homemade pizza dough. It bakes up wonderfully crisp, and the texture is glorious. It gets crisp without getting too dark, and it holds up well (no floppy pizza slices here!). I like my crust a little bit on the thin side (Sorry, Chicago!), and this recipe does the trick perfectly.
By the way, if you’re in Chicago and want pizza, but you aren’t in the mood for Chicago-style deep dish pizza, check out Flour & Stone (our new favorite pizza place in the Windy City). Their pizza is divine, and you don’t have to wait over an hour for it. (Except we actually did wait an hour because they forgot to make our pizza. It was totally fine though, we were enjoying a phenomenal salad and chatting, and they gave us our entire meal for free because they forgot us. The pizza was totally worth the wait. I told Hubby that dinner was on me, free was perfectly within my budget since my purse was stolen earlier that day.)
I’m sure that my entire pizza philosophy will change once I move to Italy, but until then, this is what pizza is to me. A beloved past-time and family favorite.