Posted by johngl
Regular readers will know that a few short weeks ago I christened my Big Green Egg by using it to cook a frozen pizza. It was time to see what it did with a homemade one.
While the crust wasn’t quite as thin as I normally would like, that isn’t the fault of the Big Green Egg. This peperoni and Italian Sausage pizza was really quite good and the crust had a nice crunch to it.
There’s a recipe for pizza dough, originally developed by Wolfgang Puck for his restaurant Spago (then modified by me), that I have been using for a number of years, but this time around, due to the purchase of some specially mixed flour from King Arthur, I deviated from that tried and true recipe.
Okay, so anything that starts out with the word “perfect” makes me wonder, but King Arthur makes some good flour products so we bought into it. The recipe for making the dough is on the back of bag, which is pretty handy. And no, I am not going to rewrite it here. If you are that curious, buy your own bag.
So, you start with a measured portion of flour…
Using the paddle attachment to my KitchenAid, I got things mixed together into a cohesive whole.
I did this at a very low speed, but even so, once the dough actually forms up, the motor will bog down. When that happened, I switched to the dough hook. I also added a couple of tablespoonsful of olive oil to the dough mix.
Now, you could knead the dough by hand, and I used to find this action therapeutic, but age changes how you look at things and I have to make excuses to use this expensive kitchen equipment anyway, so, I let the dough hook do the work whilst I sipped upon some Agavero.
After about five minutes of watching things go round and round, I removed the hook, covered the vessel with clear kitchen wrap, and let it do its rise thing.
I commanded the dough to “Rise!” but it just sat there mocking me.
Most glorious spousal unit and I took this time to head out and buy groceries. Here’s a tip: never consume alcohol and then go grocery shopping; you’ll come back with just about anything those little sample hawkers are selling. This time it was Belgian Chocolate covered Ice Cream Bars. It sorta reminded me of going to Baskin Robbins after spending a few hours with some friends in a smoking circle. Baskin Robbins man, what a rush… Luckily, or sadly, depending on how you look at it, that was at least 35 years ago. I guess I should be happy that I still am able to remember those good old days.
Anyway, we made it back in one piece (though considerably poorer), and the dough had doubled in size. I punched it down, divided it into three pieces (should have gone for four), and popped them into the fridge to allow the gluten to chill out.
After a few hours, I pulled a dough ball out of the fridge. They had re-risen (zombie dough?), so I flattened one into a pseudo-pizza shape.
As you can see, this pretty much covered the pizza peel. I should have cut the dough ball in half again and made two thinner and smaller pizzas. Oh well, lessons learned. But honestly, it’s really a matter of degrees. We sure didn’t have any trouble eating this pizza.
Too lazy to make my own sauce, I asked Mario Batali if he’d let me use some of his. As luck would have it, our local grocer carries Mario’s brand. It took about three tablespoons to get a nice layer of sauce on the pizza.
I don’t much care for overly sauced pizza, so I’m skimpy with it. I also sprinkled on a bit of mozzarella before I started adding the meats. And by the way, vegetables do not belong on a pizza. Just sayin.
I’d picked up some peperoni, still in its natural state (that is, not pre-sliced), sliced it, and nuked it for about 30 seconds: just enough to get some excess fat out of it.
Since I had to get the Big Green Egg cum Pizza Oven fired up anyway, I thought I might make use of the heat, so I grilled some chicken and Italian sausage.
This will give us some handy food options for the week ahead. It also provided an essential ingredient for my pizza: Italian sausage!
Placing the peperoni and sausage upon the pizza dough made it look just a bit more pizza-ish.
And, finally, more cheese! This is a blend of gouda (pronounced: how-da) and mozzarella.
Off to the Oven!
For a pizza oven to work properly, one really needs a lot of mass. I use some of my unglazed quarry tiles (I have quite a collection) for that very purpose. It works great and its cheap. I also use quarry tile in my regular oven (the one in the kitchen) to help stabilize the temperature.
In case you are wondering, those tiles were preheated to about 700°F. Don’t go touching them.
The pizza went in and about seven minutes later, it was ready to come out.
It smelled great!
And it looked pretty good too!
And, to accompany it, there naturally had to be some wine!
We bought this 90 point 2006 Castello Monaci Pilùna Primitivo back in January, 2009 for $10. Two and a half years in the cellar and it easily tasted as good as some $25 bottles I’ve tried. The Wine Advocate has this to say about it:
The 2006 Primitivo Piluna is a wine of uncommon beauty. This vibrant, pure red shimmers on the palate with layers of dark cherries, sweet herbs, licorice and tobacco. It offers outstanding length and terrific balance. Readers who haven’t discovered Primitivo owe it to themselves to do so. This is a great starting point. Anticipated maturity: 2008-2011.
I certainly wouldn’t argue other than to say that I think it would easily age for a couple of years beyond 2011. It has aged elegantly thus far.
My Big Green Pizza Oven has now fully proven itself. It can make a frozen pizza sing and dance and cook a fresh, homemade one to perfection. With a little tweaking on some crust thickness, we’ll be having homemade pizza a bit more often.