Homemade pizza is a staple in our household. It’s a tradition in my family – my dad is kind of a pizza expert and my family cannot even fathom going out for pizza when Dad’s homemade pizza is so much better. I often make pizza margherita, but tonight I felt like something different. Something with good green veggies (spinach) and lean protein (chicken).
I have a few top secret tips for making great pizza. The kind with a crisp crust that doesn’t flop over, but still has that chewy bite on the inside. You may be thinking the pizza in the photo looks too thin, and I agree… there was a major tantrum from a certain 3 year old and I accidentally ordered a small dough instead of the regular large one I get at Gelson’s.
1. The oven must be H.O.T. As in the highest temp you can get it, 550 degrees F on mine. Those fabulous pizzas you’ve had from wood burning ovens in great Italian restaurants are 750 degrees minimum, so don’t be worried 550 is too hot.
2. Use a pizza stone/brick! Again, think about those Italian brick ovens. The stone needs to be HOT, not just the oven. Heat the stone in the oven at least an hour.
3. Use a pizza peel with lots of flour on it so you can slide it right onto that super hot stone without getting too close.
4. Don’t weight down the dough with too many toppings. Wet toppings = soggy crust. Tomatoes are fine on top, just squeeze out some of the juice first.
5. Use your favorite homemade dough recipe if you like, but if you’re in a hurry store bought dough can be great too. Gelson’s has the best dough in our area, in my opinion.
Chicken Florentine Pizza
1 pizza dough
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced/crushed
frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
chicken breast, cooked and shredded
crimini mushrooms, sliced
red onions, halved and sliced
feta cheese, crumbled (I forgot this in the fridge, and it definitely needed the salty bite)
Preheat oven to highest temp with pizza stone in upper third of oven for at least one hour. Pour olive oil into a small bowl and add garlic. Roll out dough. Brush garlic oil over dough. Top with cheese and rest of toppings. Use a pizza peel or floured cookie sheet to slide pizza onto pizza stone. Cook 6-10 minutes until done.
Just for fun,
The Naples Pizza Association’s Laws of pizza making Neapolitan style:
1. The dough must contain only flour, water, yeast, and salt. No fat is permitted.
2. Dough must be kneaded by hand or with approved mixers
3. Dough must be punched down by hand, never mechanically or with a rolling pin.
4. The diameter of the pizza must never exceed 30 centimeters (about 12 inches).
5. The pizza must be baked directly on the floor of the oven, never on a pan.
6. The oven must be made of brick or similar material like volcanic stone. The fuel must be wood.
7. The oven temperature must be at least 750° to 800° F).
8. Marinara, a classic topping, must be made with tomato, oregano, garlic, olive oil, and salt; Margherita must be made with tomato, mozzarella, olive oil, basil, and salt.
9. The pizza must not be crusty but must be well done and fragrant with a high soft edge.
10. Variations on the classics can be inspired by tradition and fantasy, provided they are not in conflict with the rules of good taste and culinary laws.
Ready to build your wood burning pizza oven yet? One can dream…