October 19, 2009

Pizza Margherita

Pizza Margherita

Makes: 4 to 6 servings

Created by The MDM Team, Monday, December 17, 2007
Quality ingredients guarantee that this pizza will be a surefire hit. A break from tiresome takeout, it's gourmet and great-tasting. Enjoy a slice of heaven.

1/4 tsp. of dry yeast
1/2 cup warm (about 100 degrees) water
1 tsp. all-purpose unbleached flour
1 to 1-1/4 cups organic, stone ground all-purpose unbleached flour
1/2 tsp. salt additional flour

Margherita Topping:

1 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 medium onion, minced
1 sprig parsley, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. dry oregano
1-1/2 cups canned whole peeled tomatoes
1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves, torn
3 oz. fresh mozzarella (in liquid), thinly sliced
2 to 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper and salt

In a medium bowl mix the yeast, water, and tsp. of flour. Foam should form on the surface in about 8 minutes (if not, yeast is past its prime; find fresher). Then add in rest of flour and salt, forming a smooth, quite soft, slightly sticky dough. Then knead 10 minutes. Place in a large oiled bowl, cover bowl with plastic wrap. Let stand in a cool place until doubled in bulk (about 1 1/2 hours). If not ready to bake, keep dough covered and hold up to 8 hours. About 20 minutes before baking, punch down, knead a minute or two and then form into a ball, cover. To make pizza, lightly oil a 14- to 16-inch pizza pan. Preheat oven to 500 degrees, setting rack as low as possible in oven. Roll out dough as thin as possible to about a 16-inch round (no more than 1/16-inch thick). Spread over pan, rolling in edges to form a rim. Let rest 10 minutes. Top as desired or suggested below and bake 10 minutes. Then using a spatula and thick oven mitt, slip the pizza off the pan directly onto the oven rack by pulling out rack, grasping pizza pan firmly with protected hand, and using spatula or pancake turner to slip pie off pan and onto rack. Slide rack back in place and bake 2 minutes. Slip pie back onto pan, remove from oven. Cut and serve. In a 10-inch skillet heat 1 tbsp. oil over medium high. Sauté onion and parsley to golden, then stir in garlic and oregano for a few seconds. Add tomatoes, crushing them as they go into the pan (do not substitute crushed tomatoes). Boil, stirring, 5 minutes or until thick. Spread sauce over rolled out crust, sprinkle with basil, mozzarella, and finally the oil. Finish with generous black pepper and a little salt. Bake as directed above.
Variation: In Naples, fresh or canned tomatoes often replace tomato sauce on pizza. Make sure tomatoes have big, rich flavor and use them judiciously.
More Variations: Sparingly is the operative word here. Use any of the following flavorings, but only enough to flavor, not overwhelm: Sliced red onion, pitted olives, pepperoni, anchovy, sliced mushrooms, steamed broccoli or cauliflower, salami, prosciutto, roasted peppers, shrimp, cooked Italian sausage, hot pepper, fresh herbs such as marjoram, oregano, mint, garlic, rosemary, or sage.

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