My wife Susan and I always look gleefully forward to the Super Bowl. I suppose our kid-like anticipation and scatty enjoyment ought to be embarrassing, but we don't feel that way; we just have a lot of fun. A good share of those giddy feelings has to do with the food we lay in to celebrate the game. On what other day can a big pizza pie crown the Food Pyramid?
Here's a pizza crust recipe that I've test driven throughout the play-offs. I recommend the thick crust variety--which is very bready--but by all means go for the thin crust version if that's your preference.
2 ½ or 3 cups of flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 package yeast
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 cup very warm water
Mix 1 cup of the flour with the yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add the 3 tablespoons of oil and the warm water. Beat for 3 minutes or so, scraping the bowl frequently. Start stirring in the remaining flour a little at a time.
When the dough is soft and stops sticking to the sides of the bowl shape it into a ball and drop it on a floured surface. Knead it like bread for 6 minutes or so or until the dough is springy and smooth. Put it back in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap or a dish towel and let it rest for at least ½ hour.
Get a large pizza pan and liberally oil the bottom. Sprinkle cornmeal on the oiled pan. Take the dough and dump it onto the center of the pan and then roll it to the edges of the pan. Cover and let rise in a warm place for about 30-45 minutes.
Move the oven rack to the lowest level and pre-heat the oven at 375 degrees. Partially bake the pie until the crust begins to brown--probably 18 minutes, give or take. Pull it out and get ready to add the toppings.
*The crust above is for a thick crust pizza. It is quite bread-like. If you want a thinner crust pizza divide the dough in two and roll out into two 12 inch circles on oiled and corn mealed pans. Partially bake 7-8 minutes, or until the crust is browned, at 375 degrees.
You can top your pizza with anything, including a basic white or alfredo sauce if you like. But I want a tomato base for my pizza, so I start with:
1 eight oz. can of pizza sauce
2-3 cups grated Mozzarella, cheddar or brick cheese
¼ cup Parmesan or Romano cheese
Spread the sauce base over the partially baked crust, going right up to the edges of the circle. Now...you're on your own: If you want to add pepperoni, ground beef or sausage, go right ahead, but brown it first. This is what I did:
Liberally sprinkle the red sauce with oregano. If you react negatively to the word "liberal" then "excessively" sprinkle the red sauce with oregano. Slice a red onion and cover the pizza with the slices. Cut strips of green pepper, enough to cover the pizza, and cuddle them up to the onions. Lay down about 15-20 artichoke heart quarters. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top; be sure that you cover the edges of the pie. Pile on the grated hard cheese--and add a few slices if you're brave. Feel free to use mushrooms, asparagus, and absolutely anything else.
Bake the thick crust pizza at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. Bake the thin crust pizzas at 425 degrees for 8-10 minutes. Let the cheese cool a bit before slicing.
I've made this crust several times and it worked out from the beginning. Let me encourage you, though, to use olive oil, if you have it, both as an ingredient and to oil the pan. Secondly, you'll be glad if you use the corn meal: it helps make a crispier and more pizza-parlor like crust. Finally, bread flour is preferred over whole wheat or all-purpose flour and--don't use self-rising flour.
If your team looses the Super Bowl it will be sad. But if you lose you don't have to eat bad food. I think you'll like this pizza. Let me know how it worked out for you.