Monday, April 18, 2011

The Pizza Post: Il Rosso

Jasie and I can be a bit competitive with each other. We push and encourage each other, providing support in little ways while we try to outsmart or out-perform the other. This weekend, we decided to challenge each other in a new field.


I've never made pizza from scratch. When I issued this challenge, I didn't know how to make dough, didn't even know what my favorite pizza toppings are (every time somebody asks me my brain freezes, and I blurt whatever comes to mind that doesn't seem too objectionable). Pretty much the only thing I can do is make tomato sauce (which I taught myself how to do since I hate tomato sauce). But I eagerly embraced the challenge, reasoning that no matter who won the prize for the best dish, we'd have two large pizzas. Which was enough of a prize for me.

In the end, I created something I called Il Rosso. It looked beautiful and it tasted even better. It was the best slice of pizza I ever had--I know I sound super modest--and I learned a very valuable lesson from the experience. It didn't matter that I had no idea what I was doing. I just made the most reasonable choices and carried on like everything would work out in the end. And it did. So here's the recipe for my delicious pizza.

The Sauce:
5 fresh tomatoes
1 can of diced tomatoes with chipotle
1 large shallot
5 cloves of garlic
1 yellow onion
Mushrooms (as much as you like, I guess. This part was optional, I just had some mushrooms).
3 tbs of olive oil

The Toppings:
1 pound of pork sausage
1 pound of ground beef
1 shallot
4 cloves of garlic (for the meat)
2 cloves of roasted garlic
1 onion
4 strips of bacon
1/2 red pepper
1 Roma tomato
Mozzarella cheese
The pre-grated Italian cheese
Shaved Parmesan
Grated Romano

The Dough
1 package of instant yeast (1/2 cup of water)
1 1/2 c water
3 cups of flour
2 tbs of olive oil
1/2 cup of the grated romano
Freshly chopped oregano
4 cloves of garlic (roasted)

To Prepare:
1. Wrap a head of garlic in tinfoil and roast in oven for approximately 30 minutes.

2. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of cold water over the yeast, add a bit of sugar, let it sit for five minutes. Add that to the 3 cups of flour, plus 2 teaspoons of salt, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and a bit more water if necessary. Knead the dough, form it into a ball and put the bowl in a warm place with a tea towel over the top. It should rise for an hour, but the longer you let it rise, the better.

3. Start the sauce by putting 2-3 tbs of olive oil in a large pan. Mince the garlic, shallot, mushrooms and onion and sautee until they're translucent. Don't burn them! Add the can of diced tomatoes and let it all simmer together for a few minutes while you're cutting the tomatoes. I just quarter them. They don't need to be in small chunks or anything. I also don't worry about peeling mine or seeding them. Add the tomatoes, set it on medium heat, and stir occasionally. I let mine simmer for an hour, and then used an emulsifier to blend the sauce in the pan. After that, I let it simmer for another hour or so to reduce the moisture.

4. Fry the bacon in a skillet. Set the slices aside to use for later and use the bacon fat to sautee another onion and the garlic for the meat. Add both the ground beef and sausage, flatten it in the pan and let it cook through without disturbing it. When it's brown on the bottom, flip it over and let it continue to cook. When the meat is done, crumble it and set it aside.

5. Chop up the red pepper, the tomato, the other shallot, and any other veg you want to use as
topping. Crumble your bacon.

6. When the dough has had the chance to rise, punch it down, knead it for five minutes, cover it and let it sit for another 10-15. Punch out the air again, and this time work the romano cheese, the roasted garlic, and the oregano into the dough, kneading it until it's all mixed in thoroughly. Flatten it onto a foil covered baking sheet (make sure the foil has olive oil on it!)

7. Start with a layer of sauce, then add a layer of Mozzarella. From there, add the crumbled bacon bits and some onion. Add another layer of cheese. The meat should be the next layer. I added more cheese on top of that, then sprinkled on the shallot, tomato, peppers, and more of the roasted garlic. On the top, I added the shaved Parmesan.

8. Make sure your oven is preheated to 425. We cooked this for 30 minutes, and it came out perfectly.

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