Sunday, September 27, 2009

Gourmet Pizza

My youngest son turned 18 on Friday and we went to Mesa to celebrate. After stopping by to see my oldest son and then my niece, we stopped off at Joe’s Crab Shack for a great meal of coconut shrimp and a couple of orders of deep fried calamari. It was all quite delicious.

The fun part was when they put a large bib on my birthday boy, and then later put a large sombrero on him, stood him in front of everyone and sang some strangely interactive birthday song where he sang the chorus. Fun stuff.

On Saturday, my son in law made us fresh pizza. He started by making the pizza dough the night before and letting it rest in the refrigerator overnight. He used high gluten flour, and apparently it is best when the dough sits for one or two days.
We had the freshest of ingredients and for our pineapple pizza, he used fresh pineapple—something I’d never even thought of doing, but it was very tasty. Instead of ham, he used Canadian bacon. I hadn’t tasted Canadian bacon on a pizza since the 60’s when they spared no expense for quality.

I learned a couple of things about pizza making. He cooked the pizza at 550—I’d always hesitate to cook anything higher than 375. It just seems so hot! However, it appears that pizza does very well with the higher temperature. My son in law was able to put raw sausage on the pizza and it cooked just fine.

As with all things, it’s a lot easier to make good pizza if you have the right equipment. I’ve spent years making pizza in cookie sheets. Cutting the pizza in the cookie sheets really tortures the coating on them, too. Years ago my daughter gave me a pizza stone to make pizza on, however it seemed like such a mess.

Not quite knowing how to use it, I’d put the stone in the oven to preheat, but it required a corn meal coating to keep the pizza from sticking to the stone. We always wanted more than one pizza, so getting the cooked pizza off the stone and adding the uncooked one was a real problem. Saturday I learned that parchment paper works wonders to fix that.
Another tool I discovered that is quite necessary to make pizza making easier is a pizza paddle. I don’t know if that’s what it’s really called, but it’s a very, very large and flat spatula. Make the pizza on the parchment paper, then scoop the paddle under it and transfer it to the pizza stone that’s waiting on the bottom rack of the oven. (The good thing about parchment paper is that it can be cooked in the oven without burning.) Then, after the pizza is cooked, the pizza paddle is also quite handy for getting the cooked pizza off of the stone.
So, if you have a good pizza recipe but the pizza’s aren’t turning out quite as good as you’d like, believe me when I say that making good pizza starts with using all of the right equipment.


Jen in AZ said...

I recently started using my pizza stone, after years of letting it languish in my cupboard, and I LOVE how evenly it cooks the crust. You're totally right!

Rev. Dave said...

Pizza "peel" is the official term. I don't know why. It just is.

Anonymous said...