AndyTalk: Why You Should Make Pizza From Scratch


IT'S FAST ... Depending on your speed in the kitchen you can make a pizza, dough and all, in 60 to 90 minutes. That's as long as it takes to get a pizza from a good place delivered on a busy night; and this will be hot when delivered to your table. With a food processor I can make 10 batches of dough in half an hour - in great part because I used to do a lot of pizza classes and played a game where I timed myself.

IT'S FRESH ... Instead of sauce, I use layers of fresh ingredients: tomatoes, herbs, peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc... I sauté onions and other non-tomato vegetable toppings while the dough rises, because it takes longer to caramelize them than it takes to cook a pizza. If I'm using dried herbs I add them to whatever I'm sautéing. If I'm ambitious I'll halve the tomatoes and roast them with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar.

YOU GET EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT ... I get as much prosciutto and pepperoni as I like - and I get the brands I prefer. (I like Boar's Head pepperoni because it doesn't have yellow dye #5 - and it's skinny - so I get lots of small slices that actually fit in my mouth when I take a bite). I don't like greasy pizza, so I'll put the sliced pepperoni in the oven for 3 - 4 minutes, and take it out and put it on napkins like bacon out of the pan. I can use cheese that has real flavor, like Gruyere or Manchego.

What follows is my step-by-step on how to make great pizza at home.

In a home oven with a pizza stone it's easy to make an excellent thin crust pizza. My dough recipe makes 3 to 4 pizzas; depending on size and thickness. If you want dough that's ready to use when you get home from work make it in the morning with cold water instead of warm, and let it rise in the refrigerator during the day.

Brush the dough lightly with olive oil, and top with fresh herbs (oregano in this pic). Fresh herbs on the bottom layer infuse the pizza with flavor; on top they just dry out.

When I pre-cook the pepperoni I add it after the herbs. When it's already crisp, as pictured here, I don't want it to burn.

Add oven-roasted tomatoes cut side up, so the crust doesn't get soggy. When I use raw tomatoes I seed the tomatoes before thinly slicing; also to avoid soggy dough.

Add the cheese and bake. This is a blend of Gruyere, Pecorino Romano, and Smoked Cheddar.

I tend to be non-committal when people ask me what's my favorite food, because I like variety and hate pigeonholes. The true answer is pizza, because it offers infinite variety. And, there's something therapeutic about making even a single batch of dough from scratch.

Andy Broder is the chef/owner of AndyFood, A Culinary Studio.

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