Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Crispy Pizza

I enjoy pizza immensely. I enjoy its crispy crusts, the combination of spice and sausage. I just flat love the stuff. I'm fortunate to have experienced both east and west coast but by far the one that has stuck out in my memories was my visit to http://www.giordanos.com/ in Chicago with my wife and our good friends. Of the few times I have visited Chicago, I have never been disappointed in its food. I'm hoping to return there with my wife and children in 2011 and you can rest assured that I will be hitting Giordano's. Hitting it HARD!

Last night was one of those nights that that I wanted Pizza. Maybe, wanted is not a strong enough word. I yearned. I craved. I fantasized. So, being the average Wyoming family that budgets there income fairly tight, ordering out wasn't an option. So, we made our own. Yes! We made pizza dough. We stretched the dough to the traditional shape. back in the day, I made pizzas from scratch and spun the dough into the air, giving the customers a little show as they ordered there meals at the counter. I'd like to point out that there were no ceiling fans in that kitchen, and I forgot to take that into account when I gave the wife and children a little show of there own last night. Once the activities were over, which included cleaning the ceiling fan, we comminced with the cooking.

Pizza Dough:

1 pound (or about 3 1/2 cups) high gluten flour
3/4 cup warm water (the warm water is very important)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt

In a heavy-duty stand mixer (mine is a KitchenAid KSM150PSWH Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer, White) fitted with dough hook, add the water, oil, yeast, salt, and sugar. Mix thoroughly until yeast has fully dissolved. Add flour and mix on low speed until all of the flour and water have mixed and a stiff dough ball forms, about 3 to 4 minutes. Stop mixing as soon as the dough ball forms as this type of dough should not be kneaded.

I cannot over-emphasize the importance of a 24-hour rising time since it is absolutely essential for the dough to develop its signature texture and, more importantly, its unique flavor! Do not skip this step! "Keep in mind, good food takes time and time makes for good food."

Getting ready to Bake:
Preheat your oven to 500 °F for about an hour and your BBQ Grill on medium low before you plan to bake the pizza. If you have a pizza stone I would recommend using it. I have a very large Stone( Old Stone 4461 16-Inch Round Oven Pizza Stone ) that I keep in the oven most of the time, hardly ever removing it.
Turn the dough out onto a large surface and dust with flour. Using a heavy rolling pin, roll the dough out very thin to form a 24-inch or larger circle. Dust a pan lightly with flour, place the dough in the pan. This will make it alot easyer to walk the dough outside to the BBQ grill.
BBQ Grill Pre-Bake:
Prebake your crust on a BBQ grill. Only on one side. This may seem a bit tricky for some but its quite simple. Just allow the dough to slide on its own off of your pan and onto the grill slowly, keeping in mind your placement so not to short yourself grill room . If it wont slide, just give a few short little shakes back and forth to loosen the dough from the pan.  Your other option is to simply pick the dough up with your hands and transfer straight to the grill, which is what I do usually.  Its isn't very hard just a bit intimidating for some.  Once on the grill, the dough will rise a little and begin to stiffen and get a crust (about 5 - 10 minutes). Remove from grill.

Finishing up:

Grill marked side down add your sauce of choice, meat, cheese, and veggies. The rule of thumb for pizza, more than 3 toppings will make your flavors blahh. Also, more is not better as most people like to load up there pies. Once you have finished slide the pizza into your oven to finish the pie. I never time this part. I watch the toppings. I look for the cheese to be melted and for a little bit of browning. I also keep a close eye on the meat or veggies so they don't burn or dry out. Once you see all these signs and most importantly, smell the aroma of the pizza its time to remove, slice, and serve!