– 1 pizza stone (any size or shape – it doesn’t matter. I have a square one. It looks like a one-inch thick big ceramic square). Keep it in the oven at all times. But measure your oven prior to buying it to make sure it will fit!
– 1 pizza peel – that’s the wood plank thing with a handle you assemble the pizza on, slide it onto the stone with and then use to pull it out of the oven.
– 1-2 sheets of parchment paper – it looks like wax paper but it isn’t waxy and you can get it at ANY grocery store (usually next to aluminum foil). You put it on top of the pizza peel when you assemble the pizza dough/ingredients and then slide the paper/pizza via the peel into the oven when the pizza bakes so the pizza dough won’t stick to the stone.
– 1 pizza cutter – That round wheel cutter thing with a small handle on the end. You’ve seen it at every pizza place on EARTH and can buy it at any grocery store inexpensively. But if you don’t have one, just use a knife.
1 pack Trader Joe’s pizza dough (wheat or plain)
1/4 jar of Mario Batali’s tomato basil sauce warmed up slightly
A few handfuls of shredded mozzarella cheese (I often used Trader Joe’s organic low-fat mozzarella or FRESH mozzarella cheese from any grocery – or sometimes a combination of both)
A few handfuls of cherry tomatoes in different colors cut in half
A few handfuls of fresh mushrooms (I prefer crimini but regular button mushrooms work)
1 – 1 1/2 pre-cooked turkey/chicken sausages (Most markets like Trader Joe’s Whole Foods, Gelsons, etc. carry them) sliced
1/2 to one full cup of fresh basil leaves
1-2 tablespoons of oregano
You can assemble and cook this pizza A LOT quicker than you can get it delivered and it will taste twice as good.
- Crank up your oven as HIGH as it goes. For most HOME ovens this is 450-500 degrees plus. Depending on your oven this could take up to 10-15 mins. (Note: The higher the heat the crispier the crust).
- At the same time, take the dough out of the refrigerator. You can keep the Trader Joe’s dough in the fridge for a few days prior to cooking and they sell it all the time. You can also buy fresh or frozen dough at many supermarkets ( e.g. Whole Foods) these days.
- Now take out the pizza peel and put 1-2 pieces of parchment paper on top of it that covers its flat section (mine is wood but they also come in metal).
- After 10-15 mins. resting out of the fridge, the dough will be more malleable. Begin to move the dough back and forth in your hands so it widens a bit to a bigger circle. Then place it on the parchment paper and with your fingers slowly widen it as much as you can to cover the paper. You can even use a rolling pin to spread it further even though veteran pizza cookers HATE when I say this. But screw them. (Note: You can rub some olive oil on parchment paper prior to laying the dough on it to make it less sticky. But you don’t need to. Once the paper is in the oven it usually releases the dough).
- Once the dough looks like a raw pizza pie, ladle or slowly pour the sauce onto the dough. Then spread it around with a ladle or spoon. You might not need ¼ or a jar but I like it saucy (no surprise there). Yes, you can make your own sauce but you will NOT do better that Mario’s. And it keeps in the refrigerator for at least several weeks after using it –so you can make another pie.
- Now sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the dough. If you’re using fresh you can place small pieces of it in various spots and it will spread. I don’t like it overly cheesy (pizza, that is) but do it to YOUR taste.
- Now place/sprinkle on the shrooms, tomatoes and sausage. Try to alternate the ingredients around the pie so each slice gets you a bit of each. No, you don’ t have to use all three. It’s YOUR pizza. This is what I do. Or feel free to add other ingredients. But please, No PINEAPPLE chunks! I can’t even…
- Now place fresh basil leaves between the ingredients all over the pie. It will look festive!
- Now sprinkle dry oregano over the pie. It’s the final touch.
- Okay – don’t be afraid. Just pick up the pizza peel that has the pie on it. Walk to the oven. Open the oven. Then quickly, with a thrusting motion, slide the parchment paper with the pizza on top onto the pizza stone and quickly close the oven door.
- If you’re using wheat pizza dough it should take about 10-11 mins. With plain dough it’s usually between 7-8 mins. But EVERY oven is different. So periodically check to make sure it’s not burning. But DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN CONSTANTLY. This lets the heat out and the pie will get screwed up.
- Okay – when time’s up, open the oven door wearing an oven mitt. Hold the pizza peel and slide it under the pizza or the parchment paper and when it’s securely on the peel, pull that sucker out of the oven.
- Give it a minute and then slice. Oh, and turn off the oven and give it an hour to cool down before you touch anything.
Serve with green salad and lots of red wine. Or not.
Often pizza is enough.
This might look like a lot of steps but is incredibly simple.
DO NOT ORDER FROM PIZZA HUT.
NEVER STOP THERE AGAIN.
DON’T EVEN LOOK AT THE SIGN.