Friday night we had a couple friends over to our place for dinner. Emily and I discussed a dinner menu; we knew we wanted something casual that would be a crowd pleaser. Obviously, the perfect answer was pizza. (On a more personal note, I think pizza is one of the two perfect foods in the universe. Maybe I’ll discuss the other later, but for now, I’ll keep you in suspense). When making homemade pizza, I usually assume one pizza per two people. It seems like a lot, but it’s really difficult to make large pizza at home (more than 12″) and I make pretty thin crust, so it’s not too filling.
I’m going to make a confession right away. I bought the dough from Whole Foods. I know it’s a terrible thing to do, but to be perfectly honest, their dough is really good. I’ve made my own before and it only comes out okay in my opinion. As an added bonus, they only cost $1.30 each. I’ve also heard that Trader Joe’s dough is tasty too, but I’ve never tried it.
To make up for my store bought dough, I did make the sauce from scratch. This is something I highly recommend because it’s super easy, cheap, it tastes better than jarred sauce, and you can make a batch as large as you want and just freeze it for at least a year. I made a very basic version where I simply sautéed an onion, a carrot and a few cloves of thinly sliced garlic. Then I deglazed with some red wine vinegar (probably about 1/4 cup) and added two 28oz. cans of whole tomatoes. Let that simmer for a couple hours and puree to your desired consistency. Season with salt, pepper, chile flake, and a couple tablespoons of sugar (to cut the acidity).
Now for the fun part. Preheat your oven as high as it will go (If you have a pizza stone, which is highly recommended, preheat for about an hour so the stone gets good and hot). I like to take the dough out of the fridge about a half hour before baking to make it a bit easier to work with. Stretch it out with some flour on the counter and get it to a nice thin disc about 12″ in diameter. Put some cornmeal on your pizza peel and lay the dough on it (I leave about an inch hanging over the edge of the peel as the dough seems to slide off more easily that way, that could just be me though). Then you just throw on your toppings. The only advice I can really give here is that less is more. Just use a little bit of sauce, a good quality cheese (I like fresh mozzarella) and no more than 4-5 toppings. We made three pizzas: one was sausage (pork of course), olives, and cherry tomatoes; basic mozzarella and basil; and bacon, sautéed chanterelles, goat cheese, garlic, and onion (I also threw some fresh tarragon on after it came out).
Conclusions: We’ve done this before and we will do it again. It’s super fun and not too difficult (your friends will love you for it too). If you’ve never made homemade pizza before then just give it a try; it seems really hard at first, but the more you do it, the easier it gets.
P.S. We had a salad too. Just spinach and arugula with more cherry tomatoes and a balsamic vinaigrette. Tasty.