Homemade Pizza Night: Bigtime Italian Fun on a Budget
My life is dominated by Sicilians (don’t call them Italians, dude). Sal and I lived with his parents and sister for two years in San Jose, California and if you think living with your parents sounds like a nightmare, think again. Those Sicilians know how to party.
Besides guzzling his father’s homemade hooch, singing along to Italian pop music with his sister, and learning to sew with his seamstress mother, we spent a lot of time making pizzas.
Sal and his father built a brick oven in the backyard years ago, and it gets a serious workout during the summer. I feel pretty confident saying that the pizzas that come out of that oven are among the best in I Stati Uniti. Made with homemade dough, homemade sauce, homemade cheese, and garden-fresh basil they are a taste sensation. Throw in about 20 Sicilians who are screaming (talking) in Sicilian, and it’s tough to find a more authentic experience.
Sal and I don’t have a brick oven, but we do our best to keep the tradition alive here in Portland using our sad little apartment-sized mini-stove (don’t ask) and wheat flour.
We wouldn’t serve these pizzas to his family, but they’re pretty delicious nonetheless. Five great things about pizza night:
- Cheap: Basically, you need flour and yeast. The rest is negotiable. Use what you have.
- Creative: See above. No one said they have to be traditional. Natalie, of Sweetpea Bicycles, mentioned that she and Austin put beets on their signature pie… go crazy.
- Fun: Open a bottle of cabernet and let the games begin. The process of making pizzas is inherently fun. You get that kid in craft-corner feeling and then you get to stuff face afterward. Brilliant.
- Leftovers: We always end up making more pizza than we can eat which spells leftovers. I love second-day pizza.
- Easy: Pizzas are wayyyy easier than you think. Get past the dough-making part and you’re golden. You don’t even need one of those fancy pans or stones, just make the thin crust from the get-go and cook the damn thing, will you?
We don’t have any super-secret formulas for dough (well, I’m sure Sal’s mom does, but she’s not talking) but here are a few links to some simple recipes to get you started:
- From Giada DeLaurentiis via Epicurious: This pizza dough will give you big boobs and a big head but we can’t guarantee it will get you a cooking show.
- From RecipeZaar: Thin Crust Pizza
- This one from the blogosphere looks good, too, and even has a bunch of construction pictures and stuff. I particularly like the picture of the chianti bottle at the end.
- Another from The Kitchn: more pictures!
You’ll note that I am partial to the thin-crust variety. I will not enter a pizza debate here, but I will say this: make your crust thin or we will hunt you down. We don’t use a recipe, and we don’t make it the same every time, but we do always make it thin. Other notes: Fresh arugula on top of pizza (added after cooking) is the hizzle mcshizz. I am also a huge fan of anchovies but Sal hates them. Go. Make. Eat. Drink.