We sold a lot of pizza at Cremaldi’s. It was a thick pan pizza that you would have to eat with a knife and fork, unless you were prepared to use a lot of napkins. I have really gotten into making pizza lately. Personally, I am a thin crust pizza person and that is what I have been making at home. Thanks to Chris Bianco and his amazing topping ideas I can’t get enough of my own homemade pizza. I mean if I lived in Arizona than I think I would be at Bianco’s every night! Not just for the pizza but to look at Chris Bianco. It’s ok! Big Daddy knows about my infatuation with certain star chefs. I tell him all the time that if I had to choose between Bobby Flay..well you get the idea!
Getting back to pizza…I love making my own dough. Nobody, including my mother, believes how easy it is to make. Paired with really fresh toppings it is better than any pizza you buy and bring home.
We also used to make a lot of covered pizza at the store. We filled them with everything from spinach and feta, to sausage and peppers, broccoli, and even one with ham and Swiss.
Ok, I wasn’t going to tell this story, but I have to! I can’t possibly talk about covered pizza and not tell this story. I have to preface the story with the fact that at Cremaldi’s we always cut our pizza with scissors. When a new employee would start and witness the cutting of a pizza for the first time they would look at us like we had three heads. It is the easiest way to cut pizza…trust me again! One of our favorite employees of all times, very close friend, best counter person ever, Lisa G. was working. She is Italian American and so nothing we did would ever faze her. Not even a loud disagreement in the kitchen, which on numerous occasions would lead to the throwing of objects, would ruffle Lisa’s feathers. She get’s it! She’s Italian!
One morning it was crazy busy and I think we had a television crew coming in to film for a local show. My mother decided to pitch in and help out in the kitchen. She started to fill a covered spinach pizza that was featured on the menu. Side note…if we were in a rush we would put on rubber gloves so that if something was oily or wet we could just whip the gloves off and have clean hands. My mother, who was wearing gloves while she piled the fresh spinach onto the bottom crust, got called away. She whipped her gloves off and left the kitchen. She eventually returned and finished the pizza. Later that morning Lisa came into the kitchen, grabbed our pizza scissors and started to cut. When she got half way across the pizza the scissors got stuck on something. She tried to keep cutting a couple of times but they wouldn’t budge, so she pulled the scissors out. We were all standing there watching, when out came a rubber glove! It was hanging off the end of the scissors! We never had my mother make a covered pizza, ever again!
Probably not such a great story to tell but I can’t help it. It was funny! Don’t worry Lis, I won’t tell the story of your sweat shirt and the pasta cutter!
ANYWAY…I decided to make a covered pizza tonight with some left over meatballs I made yesterday (no rubber gloves!). It was so good. The crust was crunchy and the center cheesy. It had so much flavor and the dough was delicious. You can take my word that the dough is very easy to make and use my recipe or just go out and buy a pound of dough at the supermarket or specialty food store. Just make sure when you buy it that it doesn’t look wet or gray. Two signs of old dough.
2 cups warm water
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast
5 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
olive oil for bowl
Mix water and yeast in small bowl or measuring cup and let sit for 5 minutes. Yeast should start to bubble.
In a large mixing bowl add 3 cups of the flour and salt. Mix with a wisk to incorporate. Add the water and mix with a wooden spoon. It will be very sticky but will start to pull away from sides of bowl.
Add 1 more cup of the flour and mix until until it forms more of a dough it will still be very sticky. Dump onto table and gradually add more flour as you knead until dough is easier to work with and doesn’t stick so much to your hands. DO NOT ADD TOO MUCH FLOUR. Your dough will turn out tough. You can add up to the 5 cups but no more. Keep kneading for 2-3 minutes and then form a ball.
Place ball of dough into a well oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave in warm place for three hours. After three hours deflate and put in zip lock bag in fridge until you are ready to use. It will keep for up to one week and freezes beautifully!
Now for the pizza…you can make it as big as you would like. I used a sheet pan that is 8×12. I used 1/4 of the dough for the bottom crust and 1/4 dough for the top crust. Roll out the dough on a well floured surface. It takes time because dough will spring back a little but you can do it! You can stuff your pizza with ANYTHING! Just like the frittata get creative! I used sliced meatballs, 1 cup of grated fontina cheese and one cup of shredded mozzarella. My meatballs have a lot of flavor so I didn’t add any seasonings.
After you put the top crust on pinch the edges closed and rubbed the top of the pizza with a drizzle of olive oil. I put fresh sliced tomatoes on top and then shredded Pecorino Romano, cracked pepper and fresh parsley. It was really good!
Bake 400 for 20-30 minutes until it is golden brown.
Don’t forget to use your scissors to cut it!