Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sweet Home Pizzeria

Over Spring Break, I visited some of my PBGV friends in Mobile, Alabama, and one of the things my fabulous hosts did for me one night was to make homemade pizza. Now I have always been a believer in using a pizza stone, but I lost mine somewhere in the move several years ago and haven't gotten around to replacing it. But my friends use one of those perforated pizza pans, and I was surprised by how crisp it got the bottom crust, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. And it works great! Since my friends inspired me to make my own pizza, the toppings I chose for my pizza were an homage to Alabama and the South. Drumroll, please: I give you, THE ALABAMA SPECIAL!

I made homemade garlic pizza dough using Jim Lahey's basic recipe but added a teaspoon of granulated garlic to it.  I let it rise, rolled half of it it out, placed it on the lightly-greased perforated pan, and then pre-baked the crust for a few minutes in a fiery hot oven (500 degrees). I took it out and topped it with a thin layer of Alabama-style white barbecue sauce, shredded sharp cheddar and mozzarella cheeses, chopped smoked brisket (from Sadler's Smokehouse, Sam's Club) tossed in a little bit of regular BBQ sauce ISweet Baby Ray's), and chopped red onion. I baked the pizza for a few more minutes until golden brown and crispy. And the piece de resistance was to top it with some homemade Alabama Hot Slaw (Moosewood recipe). Seriously, that slaw is everything. Make it. NOW. (Why are you still sitting at your computer??)

Pizza Dough
(Source: Dinner: A Love Story, via Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery)

This recipe makes two balls of dough — enough for two separate thin crust pizzas. If you want aWhole Wheat Pizza Crust, replace anywhere from two to three of the cups of flour with whole wheat flour in equal measurements.

3 3/4 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or other active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cup room-temperature water

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. The dough will be stiff, not wet and sticky. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Divide the dough in two and shape each into flattened balls. (Dough can be frozen at this point.)
When you are ready to make a pizza, preheat oven to 500°F roll out one ball of dough in a rectangular shape and place on an oiled cookie sheet with the toppings of your choice.

White Barbecue Sauce
(Source: Southern Living, 2005)

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon coarsely ground pepper
1 tablespoon Creole mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish

Whisk together all ingredients until blended. Store in the refrigerator up to one week.

Alabama Hot Slaw

1 small head of cabbage (about 1 pound)
2 celery stalks
1 1/2 cups peeled and shredded carrots
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 heaping tablespoon minced red onions
1/4 cup white or cider vinegar
1 to 2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon prepared mustard, such as yellow, brown, or hot
Tabasco or other hot pepper sauce to taste
1/4 cup canola or other vegetable oil

Finely shred the cabbage to make about 4 cups and place it in a large bowl. Halve the celery stalks lengthwise and thinly slice them crosswise. Without mixing together, pile the celery on top of the cabbage and follow with the carrots, bell peppers, and red onions.

In a small bowl or a cup, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, and salt until clear. Stir in the black pepper, mustard, and Tabasco to taste and pour on the vegetables. In a small pan, heat the oil to just smoking: you should see a few ripples in the oil and some heat waves. Pour the hot oil over the vegetables, aiming especially for the onions and peppers. Let sit for 3 or 4 minutes. Toss and serve or refrigerate for later.

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