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Snacks to Beer: Pizza

Pizza with floury burned crust.

We’ve been making our own pizzas for a few years but have never really been happy with the results. We’ve tried pizza stones; posh mozzarella; tomato sauces from both fresh toms and tinned, cooked and uncooked.

Now, at last, we’ve settled on a recipe and an approach, and it’s one that illustrates the Premium Sausage Problem: the trick was using simpler, cheaper ingredients. It makes what we call upmarket takeaway’ pizza — cheesy and salty, but with a crisp crust; think Pizza Express. By popular demand (one person asked), here’s the recipe.

Dough (for two pizzas)

  • 300g plain white flour — we use the cheapest available.
  • 1 teaspoon dried, fast-acting yeast. (Or 4-5 grams.)
  • Half a teaspoon of salt (or to taste).
  • Optional: a pinch of dried basil, oregano or mixed Italian herbs.
  • 180ml of warm water.
  1. Bung all the above in a food processor with a dough hook and knead in the machine for five or so minutes, or until it comes together into a nice, shiny looking ball of dough. If it looks too dry after two minutes, add water a drop at a time. (You can also make the dough by hand, which will be messier and take longer, if you prefer.)
  2. Put a slug of olive oil in a large bowl.
  3. Shape the dough into a neat ball and turn it in the oil then leave the dough in the bowl covered with clingfilm for a couple of hours.
  4. Knock it back when it doubles in size and then leave for another hour or so.

Toppings

  • Can/pack of passata (sieved, uncooked tomatoes).
  • Pack of grated, hard mozzarella. (Not sloppy mozzarella balls.)
  • Salt, dried basil, black pepper.
  • Topping 1: anchovies and black olives. (TIP: crush the olives in your hand to help dry them out.)
  • Topping 2: 10-12 slices from a chorizo ring (per pizza).
  • Optional: basil leaves.

Pizza bases, one plain and one with passata.

Putting it together

  1. Get the oven on as hot as it will go.
  2. Divide your dough in two and, on a floured surface, make a ball. Flatten it out with the heel of your hand or a heavily floured rolling pin until it’s a neat circle 20cm across. Flour a non-stick pizza tin (ours cost £4 each) and then press the dough out to the edges. It should end up pretty thin all over. Leave it for 10 minutes.
  3. Take a ladle and spread a very thin layer of passata over each base — thin enough that you can see the dough through it in places — something like four or five tablespoons’ worth. Add salt, pepper and dried basil to taste. Leave for another 1o minutes.
  4. Sprinkle cheese all over, just enough to cover.
  5. Add other toppings in a way which pleases your eye. (But not basil leaves just yet!)
  6. Once the oven is at maximum temperature, put both pizzas in. Our oven cooks them in bang on 11 minutes. In case your oven is better, set a timer for 9-10 and keep an eye on them.
  7. When they’re done (crust beginning to blacken, cheese melted and darkening), take them out.
  8. Add more black pepper and fresh basil leaves, if you’re using them.

Tweaks and customisation

  • Other toppings that work well are pepper and sweetcorn (further cost-cutting: frozen work well); and small beef meatballs with cayenne and black pepper.
  • If you find the pizza too crisp this way and like it ‘bendier’, turn the oven down to c.200 degrees C and cook for a few minutes longer.
  • If you really want to use mozzarella balls, try slicing them and leaving them to drain on a cloth for a while before adding them.

Beer? Oh, yeah, this is a beer blog, isn’t it? Alright then: we find that pizza goes particularly well with Saison Dupont but, actually, pizza works with pretty much any beer you fancy.

6 replies on “Snacks to Beer: Pizza”

What I do is mixing 300g of bread flour and 200g of semolina and salt. then 40g of fresh bakers yeast mixed in lukewarm water. I add a pinch of sugar to that and a dash of extra virgen olive oil. Mixed them and let the yeast do their thing. The knead it, cut it in half, make two “bums” and let them rest civered for 1 hour or so. I pick one of the bums for the pizza and put the other one in the freezer. It can make a great quick dinner, you must only remember to put the bum (is that the right word for it? I’m quite tipsy after a bottle of macho Spanish wine and can’t remember) in the fridge in the morning.

And a great, easy topping that works fantastic even in the pizza is cold.

put 100g of chopped bacon in a hot pan, let it fry for a bit, then add two mid-sized red onions, thinly sliced, while that cooks, crush one or two cloves of garlic and mixed them with sour cream and salt, spread that mix on the pizza pie and then add the onion with the garlic, add some oregano and put in the oven…

Best thing we ever bought for pizza dough—a bread machine.

3/4 cup (177ml) warm water
1 Tbsp olive oil
1-1/2 tsp salt
2-1/4 cups (288 g) AP flour
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Rapid rise yeast

Everything goes into the bread machine and, blam-o, 55 minutes later perfect pizza dough.

Do you self a favor—grill (or what you’d UKers would call a barbeque) your pizza on a gas grill.

Pizza dough
Your favorite sauce (I like a little bit of crushed tomatoes or passata)
6-8 Fresh mozzarella slices, sliced into 1/4 inch (.6 cm) thick
Frseh basil leaves
olive oil
salt and cracked black peppper

Pre-heat the grill on high—and make sure it’s clean. While the grill is heating up, flatten the dough out on a greased cookie sheet (i.e rectangular rather than round). Flop the flattened dough onto the fully heated grill—don’t worry if the grill is hot enough it’s not to stick or ooze through the grate. Let the dough grill for 2-3 minutes. Using a pair of tongs or a grill spatula check on it. when the dough can slide free, rotate it 45º and let it grill for an another minute or two. When the dough has nice crisscross grill marks and is brown and crispy, flip the dough with a spatula and a pair of tongs. Drizzle it with a bit of olive oil and then add your sauce, fresh mozzarella (shredded gets greasy on the grill so used sliced fresh mozz) and some bail leaves. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Give the pizza another few minutes to grill until the cheese melts, and then—viola grilled pizza!

(applauds)
It’s true, you know. Pizza is the best food with beer, ever.
It’s not even about the taste; which is pretty hard to beat.
It’s about *sharing*.

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