Pizza. There's only so many ways to make it, right? Why beat a dead horse with yet another recipe?
Because, there are plenty of new, innovative ways to jazz up this staple of Italian-Americana.
Growing up, my Italian-French family ate pizza for dinner about once a week. It was relatively easy to make and took no longer than an hour: 10-15 minutes for prep, 30 minutes to rise and about 20 minutes in the oven. What's more, it was the best way to get rid of leftovers that were too small to carry over to the next family meal. You really can't go wrong with crumbled hamburger meat, left-over shredded cheese, a bit of vegetables and some spices.
Taking my parent's exploratory pizza-making to heart, my own kitchen now sports quite a few interesting variations on the classic. The most recent harks back to another bit of Americana: barbecue.
On my list of foods I'd pick as my last meal, beef's not high on the list. Coated with sauce, freshly chopped onion, spices and pepper jack cheese, and you've got a different story. Make sure to use a barbecue sauce that's tomato based and, preferably, free from a lot of preservatives. You want all the natural qualities of the toppings to shine through.
Barbecue beef pizza
1 c. shredded bbq beef or pork
1/2 c. pepper jack cheese, shredded
1/2 c. NY sharp white cheddar, shredded
1/2 medium onion, chopped
~1 c. of your favorite bbq sauce
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 T basil
1/2 T oregano
salt & pepper to taste
1 portion pizza dough (recipe follows)
Mix enough bbq sauce in with the shredded meat to keep it moist and well-coated. Set aside.
Grease your pizza pan with olive oil; if working with a pizza stone, skip the oil. Dust lightly with cornmeal.
Stretch out the dough to form a disk. Check out some tips here to avoid tears. Place on the pizza pan and dollop enough sauce onto the dough to cover it within a 1/2 in. of the edge.
Sprinkle the remaining ingredients, adding cheese last, onto the dough.
Bake at 350F for about half an hour, or until crust is brown and cheese is bubbly.
I've tried so many variations on pizza dough and this one has yet to disappoint. The recipe was altered from the "pasta per pizza" recipe in Jamie Oliver's cookbook, Jamie's Italy (Hyperion, 2006). My only additions are whole wheat flour and a good deal of spices: they add a depth of flavor, a nuttiness to the dough that I really like.
2 c. white flour
1 1/4 c. wheat flour
1 T salt
1 envelope yeast
1 T sugar
2 c. lukewarm water
1 1/2 T basil
3/4 T oregano
1/2 T pepper
In a small bowl add the packet of yeast and sugar to the water. Stir lightly with a fork and let rest for 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and whisk it to incorporate some air into the batter. Make a well in the center and add in the yeast mixture.
Once mostly incorporated, finish mixing with your hands and knead for roughly ten minutes, or until an elastic ball forms.
Let rest for half an hour in an oiled bowl, covered with a kitchen towel. Punch it down and let rest for ten minutes.
Divide in half. Makes 2 large pizza crusts.
For more info:
Check out Leonardo's Pizza by the Slice on 1245 W University Avenue for delicious pizza, giant vegan cookies and more!