Sunday, November 7, 2010

Pizza - Pepperoni, Caramelized Onions, Herb with a Shiitake Mushroom Sauce

This time, as in many times, the secret is in the sauce.  I like to think that I am adequate in most of the culinary arts.  But one thing has always been a work in progress (my euphemism for something that didn't quite work) has been my pizza sauce.  Too runny, too thick, too spicy, too bland, too something, and not enough something.

But yesterday I made me a really top notch sauce.  Thick, deep, rich color; but the sweetness combined with the tang is exactly what I wanted.  Just as good as the best pizza shops...

Here's what I did...

5 Roma Tomatoes, Skins removed, halved and seeded
1 TBS Canola Oil
1/4 pound Shiitake mushrooms, cut into strips
3 Green Onions, white and green parts, sliced thin
4 cloves Garlic, smashed and diced
1 TBS Sugar
2 TBS "Not your Grandmother's Herbes de Provence" spice mix (substitute the herb mix of your choice, or make your own, click the blue letters to find my herb mix formula).
1 cup Red Wine

OK, first thing is to break down the tomatoes.  In my heavy cast iron skillet, over medium heat, I just heated the canola oil, added the tomatoes, sprinkled some sugar on and allowed them to break down.  It takes about 45 minutes for them to break down.  Pick out any of the hard white bits.  Add the mushrooms, onions, garlic and "Not your Grandmother's Herbes de Provence" spice mix.  Mix well, simmer for another 5 minutes.

Transfer everything to a food processor and pulse until completely liquefied.

Return to the skillet, add wine, mix, simmer until it is reduced to the consistency you want for a sauce.

I have posted my dough recipe several times.  But it is worth repeating, making your own dough is easy, CHEAP, convenient, fast and freezes well.  I make @4 pizza dough balls the same day.  2 go in the freezer, one is usually used the same night and the 4th is saved for lunches in a couple days.

Once you master that basic dough recipe, you can easily make herb dough, garlic dough, scallion dough, etc.

As to toppings, keep it simple.  No more than 3.

As to cheese, NEVER use the pre-shredded.  It has lost most if it;s flavor (air causes the flavors to deteriorate.  Shredding increases the surface size that touches air.  They also use a waxy dusting that keeps it from clumping, so your food has a waxy taste).  Mozzarella balls are great to slice.  They melt easy and have a wonderful taste (also, provolone is terrific).

This particular pizza, I used Mozzarella slices, Pepperoni and Caramelized Onions!  And it never hurts to sprinkle a little more "Not your Grandmother's Herbes de Provence" spice mix.

If you are a novice bread maker, this pizza dough recipe is about as easy as it gets.  Just enough yeast to make the insides of the crust sweet and soft.  But crisps up nicely on the outside.  The dough goes right from the kneading process to the fridge.  So, there is no rise time to complicate the process.

The flour and water used in the mix should be as cold as possible.  That's what allows the yeast to flavor the bread, but keeps the flatbread... flat.

But I digress away from the recipe...

4 1/2 cups chilled Flour
1 3/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp instant Yeast
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1 3/4 cups COLD Water (40 degrees)

OK, did you read the 2 cold ingredients. Takes an extra hour or two of planning, I measure the water and the flour and pop them in the fridge for a couple hours to get cold. The small amount of yeast, relative to the amount of flour and the cold will make for a flat bread, almost no fermentation (rise). Just enough to soften the taste, but not make a big rise.

In my pre Kitchenaid days, I mixed and kneaded this recipe in a gallon size ziplock bag. Worked great, largely I believe because of the oil in the recipe. Without that, the dough would be too sticky to mix in a bag. But this sure made clean up easy.

Here's what I did...

  • Mix the dry ingredients first
  • add the water and oil about a fourth of each at a time
  • mix well until all the flour is hydrated and you form a large dough ball in your bag 
  • continue kneading for about 10 minutes, or if you use your kitchenaid, use the dough hook attachment, and allow the machine to knead for 7 minutes
  • And now, time to divide... Generously sprinkle a work surface with flour. Also, prepare 4 ziplock sandwich size bags (bigger works fine as well) by spraying the insides of them with spray canola oil.
  • Plop the dough ball into the flour and coat well. Divide into 4 equal parts (or fewer if you know you are making larger pizzas). Put each dough ball into a prepared ziplock bag and refrigerate at least 6 hours, and preferably overnight.

When it comes cooking time, allow the dough to reach room temp.

If you are making one big one, just roll out round and flat (actually, any shape you like).  Add your toppings and bake in a preheated 500 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.



  1. I agree. There are a couple of restaurants here in Denver that everytime I eat their pizza I would love to duplicate the sauce. It seems perfect. Great looking pizza. I most certainly will keep your sauce recipe next for the next time I attempt pizza.

  2. Sometimes life is all about the spin you put on it. Euphemisms are key.

    This pizza sounds perfectly awesome! Love the topping combo...mmm pepperoni.

  3. This pizza sounds awesome! I have been talking (and talking and talking) about making my own pizzas again for what seems like months now, and haven't managed to do so yet. This is a definite contender for my reuniting try :)

    And, congrats on achieving the perfect pizza sauce!

  4. You are right about the Kitchenaid. We are baking about 4 times a week now. Six months ago we baked maybe once a month. It's a game changer.

    Have you tried making your own mozzarella yet? I've got a recipe saved and have been wanting to attempt it.

  5. oh that sauce sounds fabulous, it seems like you could use it for a lot of things!

  6. Mighty fine looking pizza Dave. I will try some of your suggestions next time I make a pizza.

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  10. Your pizza looks great. I am still kicking myself for not ordering a Cheeseburger pizza at Minsky's.

  11. This pizza looks delish and the sauce is fabulous! I used to make all of my own pizza dough, but have totally given up pizza, since my kids moved out!