Man, I miss '80s movies.
Maybe I dislike Pizza Hut because I've since grown to love Chicago pizza - both deep dish and thin - and am now a verifiable snob about the pizza I consume. Don't get me wrong - I like Harris in the Quad Cities and Imo's in St. Louis, but neither holds a candle to Chicago pizza.
Once I tried New York style pizza on a hotel room bed during a business trip, then gagged and ran for the bathroom. Fold it in half? Gross. My crust. Must. Be. Crispy. Cracker-like. Unless you're going for deep dish, which is an altogether different culinary experience. A good one, yes, but not one that I would want to consume with as much regularity as the thin version. Thin-crust pizza might be Mr. Musky's greatest culinary achievement, and I'm highlighting it today.
Kinda. He'll kill me if I give away all of his hard-learned secrets.
So let's get the essentials out of the way, shall we? Apéritif for the evening?
Mysterious guest with the adorable scarf in the background?
|For the diligent observer: Yes. Later in the evening our Aperitif morphed into a homemade vodka and orange juice concoction.|
Anyway - back to the pizza - it started the night before, with the sauce. I don't have a photo of the sauce ingredients, but here's what you'll need:
Tomato Puree (a large can...28 oz?)
Fresh Basil (one of the plastic containers)
Garlic - couple of cloves?
Shallot - one, I'm guessing?
Red Pepper Flakes - to your liking for spicy
Honey - to your liking for sweet
Salt and Pepper - crank to taste
Dried Oregano - palmful?
Olive Oil - clueless
I can't tell you what proportions, because it's a closely guarded secret. I can't tell you in which order to mix them, because I honestly don't know. The husband is very secretive about his killer sauce, but I know the ingredients as I usually do the grocery shopping around here. I love to watch him make pizza, because he smiles while he works and doesn't even know it.
Have your spouse taste it. Give your kids a taste. And adjust the honey, red pepper flakes, salt pepper and oregano to your liking. Make it a day or two ahead of time so the flavors can get married in the refrigerator. When you're ready to assemble your pizzas, nuke it for a few seconds to make it more spreadable.
On to the crust. Ingredients are:
|Again with the hint of a smile. Sigh.|
And finally, the toppings:
Not to mention that Walmart doesn't even have block smoked provolone. The nerve. I had to settle with sliced mumbo jumbo.
So this cheese thing. Last fall Mr. Musky went to a Green Bay / Bears game in Wisconsin and stopped along the way in Door County. There he went to a local pizza pub, and absolutely fell in love with the cheese on it. He asked the owner about it, and was sheepishly surprised to find that it is Provel. At the time, I was staying with my other friend Michele in St. Louis and her husband Mike CRACKED UP that Mr. Snobby Chicago Boy had to concede that something originating in St. Louis was superior. I then received a homeschool lesson on Provel cheese by Professor Mike, ending in his trip to the store to buy me some so I could take it home for our next pizza experiment.
And true to self, like a dufus, I forgot the cheese.
But it didn't matter. Because Provel cheese, as Mr. Musky quickly researched, is a combination of Smoked Provolone, Swiss and White Cheddar. Equal parts. So we make our own. It's Miller's favorite part.
Right - the toppings. We like to pre-cook all of our ingredients so once it's on the pizza it can just warm up and ooze together with the cheese without releasing too much moisture and ruining the crispy crust. So Mr. Musky squished the sausage out of the casings, browned it over medium-high heat (be not afraid of glugging some wine on it) and drained it on some paper towels. He did the same with the sliced green pepper, mushrooms and pepperoni. Rather then actually help cook this meal, I danced with my baby while we belted out some Poison.
Next Mr. Musky pulled the dough out of the fridge and began rolling it on a liberally floured surface. Again, his patience prevails, and he rolls it as thin as he can possibly get it before putting it on a greased (with cooking spray) holey metal pizza pan.
|Assembled Pizza, pre-baked|
He baked the pizza at 450 degrees for about ten minutes directly on the oven rack, watching carefully to remove it when the cheese was melted and gooey and the edges of the crust were brown. The pepperoni can burn easily since you pre-cooked it, so be careful!
Meanwhile, back at the looney farm, my whack-a-doo girlfriend told my youngins that they'd better watch themselves, because loopyness was overtaking our faculties. And soon they'd find themselves in the corner, rocking back and forth, doing this:
But there was no stopping either of us. Especially when we realized that we don't need our curling irons and bottles of Aqua Net for microphones. Parmesan cheese containers and tonic bottles work just as well. "YOU KNOW, I WISH THAT I HAD JESSE'S GIRL!"
Praise the Lord, the pizzas saved us all and were ready to eat, after resting on the counter for a few minutes.
So we dug in and watched Rock of Ages. Naturally.