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Topic Title: The Best Pizza this side of Naples
Created on November 22, 2009 at 11:16 AM

Dave Small

If you've never been to Italy and tried real pizza read on. You're in for a treat. The pizza we buy from the chain restaurants here is truly mediocre by comparison. Real pizza has a thin crust and isn't slathered with so much slushy cheese and tomato goop. When you hold a slice of real pizza in your hand the point doesn't droop. We make perfect Italian style pizza all the time using the Holland Grill.

First you'll need to prepare a great bread dough. The quality of the bread has a lot to do with the quality of the ultimate pizza. Follow the super easy recipe from the book Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day which you'll find here: http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/?p=195
In a pinch you could use refrigerated pizza dough from the supermarket (I believe Pillsbury makes one).

Tear off a grapefruit size piece of your refrigerated bread dough, flour generously, and roll it out to a thickness of 1/8 inch. Roll it on a piece of parchment paper (looks like wax paper but is heat proof) or a heatproof silicone mat such as this one (http://www.surlatable.com/product/id/126654.do). The dough will be elastic and difficult to roll this thin unless you let it rest for ten minutes or so. It may take two or three rest periods to get it this thin. Cover with a thin damp kitchen towel and let the dough rise for an hour or so.

Slide the parchment paper or silicone baking mat off your countertop onto the back side of a cookie sheet. Transport it to a preheated Holland grill. Slide the pizza dough on mat or parchment paper off the cookie sheet onto the grill and close the lid.

After about 10 or more minutes the dough should be starting to brown on the bottom side and you should be able to handle it. Remove the pizza crust from the Holland grill when the bottom is lightly browned, flip it over so the browned size is up. You're going to put the toppings on the browned side.

You can choose your own toppings but remember the maxim that 'less is more' You don't want so much topping that it pools liquid on the top of your crust.

Here are two of my favorite toppings:

1. Grape tomato topping: Buy one of those square boxes of small grape tomatoes from the market (they have intense tomato flavor any time of year). Cut each small tomato in quarters lengthwise. Place in a plastic bag. Crush two large or three average garlic cloves into the bag with the tomatoes. Add 1/4 cup seeded Kalamata or other black imported olives cut into pieces. Add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil. Toss in the bag. Spread the contents onto your pizza crust. Coarsely grate fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top.

2. Salami and Cheese Topping: Crush two cloves garlic into 8 ounces of canned tomato sauce and reduce in a saucepan on the stove until slightly thickened. Brush your pizza crust lightly with olive oil then brush again with your tomato sauce. Sprinkle with coarsely grated fresh mozzarella cheese (the kind that comes in a ball shape in a liquid in the container). Top with thin slices of hard salami. Coarsely grate a little fresh Parmigiano Reggiano cheese on top.

Return your topped pizza to the Holland Grill to complete the cooking. Keep an eye on it and serve when the toppings are cooked and the pizza is nicely browned.

Peek at the bottom of the pizza crust to make sure it isn't getting too brown before the toppings are sufficiently cooked. If it starts to bet overly brown on the bottom slide it onto the bottom of an upside down cookie sheet and continue cooking.

(note: Real Italian pizza is cooked in a 700 degree oven which is hot enough to penetrate and cook the dough while the topping is cooking. A 400 degree oven, like the Holland Grill, might cook the toppings while leaving the top of the dough beneath the toppings slightly raw and mushy. The two step cooking process described here solves this problem insuring a crisp and chewy crust). The above recipe is super easy and takes very little prep time though you do need to plan ahead to make the bread dough.