I recently was in Miami for Ironman70.3Miami with my triathlete husband. We just so happen to have a good friend from New York who followed his dream and opened a pizza place called Paulie Gee’s Miami. Well, of course we had to visit to catch up and oh yes, try the pizza. I have to say he learned his craft very well. It was delicious. But being vegetarian what I loved equally as much was that 1/3 of the menu is vegan. This included the best sausage I have ever had; house made and vegan. It was unbelievable.
I originally asked Jason for a recipe for an article, but he said, “How about some tips for making homemade pizza? That’s much more interesting, right?” I agreed and here you go…
EASY TIPS FOR RESTAURANT TASTE HOMEMADE PIZZA
The oven must be pre-heated with a pizza stone inside for a minimum of 2 hours with maximum temperature. DO NOT open the oven during this time. Trust me, no damage is being done to the oven or stone. The goal here is to get that stone as hot as possible.
Toppings ideally can’t be moisture rich, i.e. fresh bell peppers. If you are using such items, dice them. All items can be prepped while you’re pre-heating the oven both for cooking or post oven topping.
The dough can be store bought or made fresh. Just remember if you’re making dough, this is a science and takes a bit of trial and error. I recommend 00 flour, which be bought online or at more upscale baking or supermarket stores. Dough balls for pizza should weigh between .25-.28kg or about a half pound.
Your sauce can either be canned pizza sauce or you can use canned, peeled tomatoes or fresh tomatoes for milling and make your own sauce. If milling, remember when making the sauce that it’s important to note that the ingredients you are using on the pie and their salt content will effect the taste of your sauce. You don’t need a lot of salt in your sauce if you’re using Romano cheese and prosciutto on your pizza. That’s just an example.
The sauce should not be cooked, just milled. Here’s what you need to do…Cook fresh tomatoes – you can use plum tomatoes halved – in boiling water, covered for 10 minutes. Remove from the stove and process through a food mill to remove the seeds and skin and puree. That’s it. The amount of tomatoes you need to use depends on how much sauce you want to make. 4-6 pounds should be a good place to start.
Once you open (stretch) your dough, place it on a wooden home pizza peel that is dusted with either corn meal, flour, or fine semolina. Caputo brand semolina is the best, because it toasts versus burns and is ultra fine and clean as opposed to corn meal.
Put sauce on the pizza and then top with whatever you want.
Open the oven as quickly as possible and place the pizza on the stone with one quick motion and close. Don’t worry about how it looks when you remove the peel. You will get better with peel removing motion with practice.
Once the pizza is in the oven, DO NOT open to see how it’s doing, especially if there is a window. Resist the temptation. Heat is the key. There’s no need to rotate the pizza like at a pizzeria. Most home ovens are small enough and the heat and pizza stone will have equal temps throughout.
Cooking time is approximately 10 min. Give a look around 8 min to make sure the pizza is not burning. Good indicators are the melting cheese or the top of crust for browning.
Just have fun and be creative. There is no right or wrong. It’s all personal. Some ideas are baby arugula, shaved parmigiano reggiano, and fresh ricotta dollops. The only thing to remember is that the dough/crust will only hold so much. When done, take notes so that you can remember your own personal do’s and don’ts for the next homemade pizza making night.
SPECIALTY ITEMS REQUIRED FOR HOMEMADE PIZZA
- pizza stone
- wooden pizza peel
- 00 flour, fine semolina, or corn meal
- sharp pizza cutting tool
- ability to have fun and laugh at oneself from the onset
It took Jason a year and half to learn the art of Neapolitan pizza making. From making the dough to cooking 6 at a time in a 1000 degree wood burning oven, he did it with no prior cooking experience. Well, beyond picking up a phone and ordering food for delivery or from a menu at the restaurant. It’s a lot easier at home then you think so don’t be scared to try. It can be a great family event and can actually take like restaurant pizza.
One final tip…If buying fresh mozzarella, do not, I repeat DO NOT slice or rip chunks or place diced cubes on the pizza. Shred it prior to using. It will melt as you want it to and won’t all come off when you take your first bite.
Have fun and good luck.