The first time I had Italian pizza was when we went to visit my husband’s family in Upstate New York. Of course I’d had pizza in California all my life, but except for topping choices, California pizza like French pizza doesn’t hold a candle to New York Italian pizza. I think the fault lies with sauce and crust preparation.
The best pizza sauce I ever made was cooked slowly all day long. I guess I had time on my hands or had just looked at The Godfather or something. The sauce was thick, aromatic and could have been used as a tomato topping for any type of pasta. Since that first and only time of all day cooking, I’ve cut the cooking time down to 2-3hours. It works. What doesn’t work is leaving out herbs (at least oregano and basil), garlic and a generous amount of olive oil. Since moving to Pennsylvania, I’ve tasted none of this in take-out pizzas. So that’s why I make my own. We’re only 10 miles away from the New York border! Unfortunately, Sal’s in Jeffersonville, NY burned, closed and/or is having difficulties.
When you make the crust, buy reliable dry yeast. I used Saf-Instant from France because I had some and it is reliable, but so is Fleischmann’s. Proofing the yeast in warm water with a little sugar before adding it to the flour will tell the tale; if after a few minutes, it bubbles up to the top in yeast clots, it’s good.
Toppings are your preference. I used bulk sausage, dry salami, olives, red bell pepper, 2 layers of mozzarella and parmessan cheese on the top.
The dough made two normal thickness pizzas but if you want a thicker crust, just add more dough.
2 large cans of peeled tomatoes
2 large onions, chopped
4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of red wine
1 teaspoon each rosemary, thyme, basil, oregano
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
4 tbsp olive oil
Saute the onions and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add the tomatoes, wine, herbs, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 2 -3 hours, stirring occasionally, or until sauce is very thick.
2 tsp dry yeast
1 1/3 cup of warm water
Pinch of sugar
4 cups of all purpose flour
1 tsp of salt
Mix together the flour and salt. Dissolve the yeast in the water and add the pinch of sugar. When the yeast starts to clump and rise to the surface of the water, stir and add to the flour. Blend well.
Knead the dough with the kitchen aid dough hook for 5 minutes or by hand for an agonizing 10 minutes. Divide the dough in half and form two balls. Oil two bowls with the olive oil and put the dough balls inside, turning to coat with oil. Cover and let rise for 1 1/2 hour. Punch the balls flat, then form into balls again and wrap with saran wrap. Allow to rise again for 1 hour. Spray Pam or spread olive oil onto (2) 12 inch pizza pans. Flatten each dough ball onto the center of the pan and press the dough outward until it covers the pan.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover the pizza crusts first with sauce, then cheese, then any vegetable toppings, then cheese again, then any meat toppings and lastly parmessan cheese. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes.