It has been a while since I posted anything relative to my prowess in the kitchen. This is partly because my menus have not been exactly culinary delights, leaning heavily on easy recipes. It is also because I have a tendency to eat the recipes that come out the best the most often. I still love my Mini Pressure Cooker and my Air Fryer and have prepared many delicious stews and oil free fried chicken, among other things. I hardly ever use the big oven if I can get a similar result with the toaster oven. But my love of pizza has pushed me to make one that is at least the quality of one I could purchase.
I have a relative that makes a great pizza. Actually, she prepares a delicious anything, but for now, I will concentrate on her pizza. I have been the lucky recipient of a few invitations to Pizza Night at their house. I have made a point of watching her make hers. I knew she used a pizza stone and I concluded that must be her secret. I also asked questions about its placement in the oven, the temperature she bakes at, bake times etc. And then I jumped in with both feet.
First, I invested in my own pizza stone. After doing a lot of research, I finally settled on a 16 inch stone that has a lip on the back to keep the pizza from getting pushed off. And, while I was at it, I bought a large pizza peel. So equipped, I decided to make my own professional quality pizza. In fact, I made it tonight.
I began my prep this afternoon cutting up a bell pepper and some mushrooms. I found a small package of bulk Italian sausage in the freezer, so I defrosted it and precooked it until no longer pink. I also double checked to assure I had enough pepperoni and shredded cheese. A couple of hours ago, prior to assembling my pizza, I started preheating my oven. My wife had a large pastry sheet that she would take out and flour liberally when preparing a dough. So I placed that on the counter and floured it. I then placed my dough ball on the sheet, floured it and proceeded to roll it out. When I had it the size I wanted, I sprinkled a little cornmeal on my peel, and transferred the dough onto it. I was cruising. I next added my pizza sauce and covered it with a layer of pepperoni, followed by the sausage meat, peppers, and mushroom. Finally I applied a healthy coat of cheese.
When the oven was at temp, I opened the door and proceeded to slide the pizza onto the stone. However, that is when everything went south. The dough would not move and all attempts at gently shaking it changed nothing. I started to get a little panicky, what with the blast of heat bouncing off of me, so I reasoned that there couldn’t be much holding it in place so I gave it a good (good being subjective) shake. The dough moved slightly, however, all the ingredients sans the pepperoni performed like lemmings, running off the pizza and jumping over the edge, where they huddled in terror on the stone. There was no turning back now. I continued to encourage my dough off the peel, succeeding at first only in flipping the forward third of the dough over the rest of the pizza. Not to be deterred, I grabbed a spatula and flipped it back and then, being careful not to burn myself, reached in, again with the spatula and proceeded to flip mounds of ingredients back onto my now kidney shaped pie. This met with marginal success as much of the cheese for instance was now hiding on the oven bottom where it met an untimely demise. When there was nothing else to be done, I closed the oven door and set the timer. At this point I could only wait, and pray.
At last. Golden brown in color and beautifully baked I threw open the oven door to a blast of heat. That is when the smoke alarm went off and one of the dogs began barking and circling my feet. I again found myself trying to manhandle the pie onto the peel. It seems I had found where some of the cheese had gone to hide and was now reluctant to let go of the pie. After several attempts similar to scrapping the ice from a windshield, it came loose and I was able to place it on the cutting board.
I have just finished eating. For all my problems, the crust baked up beautifully and the pie tasted delicious. I did add some more cheese while it was still hot since it looked a little naked. Bottom line is this. On a score of 1 to 10, it would rate a ten for taste. However, presentation was probably a four. But the one that really hurts is technique. It was a minus four. Bummer.
P.S. If you want a slice, take one from the back and use two hands. It will be heavy.
P.S.S. I just got a phone call from the British Baking Show advising that my invitation had been rescinded.