The Best Darn Pizza You Will Ever Eat*

*It will only be the best if my mother is the chef. Other attempts to recreate such a masterpiece are welcome, but if you want to taste this creation in its prime, I suggest you befriend my mother, or me, or find a way to break into my mom’s fridge after the leftovers are stored. Seriously, I wouldn’t be mad if you did–you need to get a cut of this.

This is the most requested meal in my parents’ household. Whenever someone returns from college, or has a birthday, or decides that it has been an extra good day, this pizza is inevitably added to the dinner menu.

This pizza is an art and a science. The art comes in when the rising dough occasionally rises a little too much, making a play space of the countertop if we’re lucky, or an extra thick crust if we decide to return the escaped dough to its home (even luckier). The science comes in when the smoke alarm routinely goes off, alerting us that the pizza is reacting to the high oven temperature as it should; dinner is well on it’s way to perfection:

-When asked in a job interview at a French fine dining restaurant what the best meal I’d ever eaten was, I described this pizza. And I got the job.

-This pizza is hard to get wrong but difficult to perfect, and for my family, it’s always a symbol of coming together, of celebration, and of happiness. I can’t think of a dish that’s closer to my heart.

-This pizza is a family tradition, my mom’s specialty, and the best darn pizza you will ever eat. Some speculate it’s the deep-dish crust that makes it so great, others point towards the usually large quantity of garlic used, but to me it’s clear the qualifying factor of greatness is…wait for it…love.

I’d love to know, what meals are extra-special to your family?

The Best Darn Pizza You Will Ever Eat, aka Mama Y’s Pizza

Ingredients

Crust:

5 teaspoons yeast

2 cups warm water

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/2 cup cornmeal

5 1/2 cups flour

Toppings:

We use different toppings every time we make this beaut—add whatever you want! And add as little or as much of it as you want–the deep-dish crust can stand up to a lot. My favorites:

Tomato sauce

A mix of grated cheddar and mozzarella cheeses

Onions, chopped and lightly sautéed

Garlic, chopped. We think roughly a whole head is favorable. Yes, a whole head.

Mushrooms, sliced and lightly sautéed

Black olives, sliced

Dried Italian herbs

Extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt

Directions

Add yeast and water to a large bowl. Mix in vegetable oil, olive oil, cornmeal, and half of the flour. Mix with hand or in a stand mixer until well combined, about 10 minutes. Add the remaining flour; knead for several minutes by hand or with a dough hook in a stand mixer. The dough will be very moist; add small amounts of flour to keep from sticking if needed.

Remove dough and place in a very large, oiled metal bowl in a warm spot on the countertop. Cover loosely with a light cloth and allow to rise until double in bulk. Punch down and allow to rise again. Punch down a second time.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Oil your deep-dish pizza pan or rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with cornmeal. Depending on the size of your pan, place some dough in the pan and push it out to the edges using your fingers. Put in enough dough so that you can run the crust right up the side of the pan. Make it about 1/8-inch thick throughout the pan.

Add your toppings, starting with the sauce, then the cheese, and then everything else. Bake, in center of oven, for about 30 minutes or until the crust and cheese are golden brown. Let cool slightly before cutting and serving. Be prepared to be amazed.

Comments

  1. nichole says:

    That is lovely! I can’t wait to try making the crust. Pizza crust is on my list of stuff that I should always make at home, but I haven’t yet figured out a great recipe.

    In our family, only around the winter holidays, my mom makes this pastry we just call “raised dough” – a rolled yeast pastry with cinnamon, brown sugar, and walnuts, and lots of butter. Like so: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jumble/2058444727/

    I tried to learn at her elbow but haven’t quite gotten it yet.

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