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Pizza Anyone?

Brittany Krempel

In the Top Ten Favorite American Foods pizza ranks very high. Since I'm constantly watching my weight, I don't have it as often as I would like, but when I do bring it home, I really chow down. But lately I've been hearing more and more about folks making very respectable pizza at home. Chef Jerry Pellegrino assures me, this be done with confidence.

There are three components to home-style pizza: the crust, the sauce and the mode of baking the pie. Here are some ideas from Jerry.

Basic Pizza Crust


28 oz. ‘00’ flour (796 grams or about 6.5 cups)

17 oz. warm water (493 grams or 2¼ cups)

1 teaspoon instant dry yeast (3.5 grams)

1 Tablespoon salt (16 grams)

2 teaspoons sugar (7.8 grams)

3 teaspoons olive oil, (12 ml)

Place the water and olive oil in the mixing bowl of a stand mixer.

In a separate bowl, mix salt, sugar and yeast into flour.

Add the dry ingredients into the water and, using a dough hook, mix on low speed until all the flour has been incorporated, adjust the speed on the mixer to medium and allow the dough to knead for 5 minutes. Place the dough in a greased pan and cover with a damp cloth. Place the dough in a warm spot in the kitchen and allow the dough to rise to double its size, about two to three hours. Punch down the dough and divide it into 4 equal pieces (using a digital scale if possible; each ball should weigh 11.5 oz. [~326 grams]) and place in greased, sealed quart-sized container or oiled/greased freezer bag and refrigerate overnight or up to 72 hours. After much experimenting, we’ve concluded that 3 days is best but day 2 is good too. When you’re ready to make a pizza, remove your dough balls within 1 hour or less of baking and allow the dough to come to room temperature. In the meantime, place your pizza stone in the oven and preheat at 550°F (depending on thickness of your stone and your oven's power) for at least 1 hour. Roll out the dough and place on a pizza peel that has been sprinkled liberally with semolina flour. Top with your favorite toppings and bake in the oven.

Deep Dish Dough


2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast

1 ½ teaspoons white sugar

1 ¼ cups warm water

3 cups all-purpose flour

½ cup corn oil

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt

Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the corn oil and whisk briefly to disperse the oil into the water mixture. Add the flour and salt and with a hook attachment; knead until dough holds together but is still slightly sticky, about 2 minutes.

Form dough into a ball and transfer to an oiled bowl, turning to coat. Cover bowl with a damp towel and allow dough to rise at room temperature until double in size, 6 hours.

Punch down dough and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes. Press dough into a 10-inch deep dish pizza pan.

Quick Pizza Sauce


1 large yellow onion, chopped

2 heaping tablespoons chopped garlic

¼ cup olive oil

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

2 28oz. can of peeled San Marzano tomatoes

Heat the olive oil in a large pot set over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add the onions, garlic and red pepper. Cook with occasional stirring until the onions become soft and translucent. Carefully add the cans of tomatoes.

Bring to a boil with regular stirring making sure nothing burns on the bottom of the pot. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium low and simmer the sauce for 30 minutes. Using either a traditional blender or hand held submersible blender, purée the sauce until smooth.

Fresh Pizza Sauce


1- 24oz. can puréed tomato

¼ teaspoon garlic powder ¼ teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Sicilian, see below)

Salt & pepper

Place the puréed tomatoes in a fine mesh sieve set over a bowl and allow the liquid to gently drain into the bowl. Gently stir the tomatoes a few times. This should take about one hour. Place the strained tomatoes in a new bowl and mix in the garlic powder and oregano. Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Sicilian Oregano - https://www.amazon.com/Gangi-Dante-Organic-Oregano-Sicily/dp/B00C6BWDYW/ref=sr_1_5?crid=25SULRHZOFIXI&keywords=sicilian+oregano&qid=1679317507&sprefix=sicilian+ore%2Caps%2C682&sr=8-5

The one essential feature of baking your own pizza is heat, and lots of it. A standard commercial pizza oven (starting at $30,000) can generate a heat of at least 800°. You average home oven can get up in the range of 500° more or less, and that is actually sufficient to bake your pie. To help, you really need to buy a "pizza stone", a flat, often round, very oven-proof stone or stone-like material that offers a solid surface for your pie.

Pizza stones are super easy to buy, and they range from $30 to $70.

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
Executive Chef Jerry Pellegrino of Corks restaurant is fascinated by food and wine, and the way they work in harmony on the palate. His understanding of the two goes all the way to the molecular level, drawing on his advanced education in molecular biology. His cuisine is simple and surprising, pairing unexpected ingredients together to work with Corks' extensive wine offerings.