Monday, April 20, 2009

Mexican Pizza

With a little organization, you can have this homemade pizza ready for the oven in just half an hour. Trust me.

There are three parts to the pizza: The sauce, the dough, and the toppings. Put a little music on and get ready to dance between the mixer, the rolling pin, and the stove. 

Step 1: Sauce

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tbl. olive oil
1 - 15 oz. can of Contadina tomato sauce
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup dry red wine
Chile powder
Freshly ground black pepper

Open the can of tomato sauce and have it close by. Brown the garlic in the olive oil, but not too much. Quick! Grab the tomato sauce and pour it in, then rinse out the can with the water and the wine, adding each to the sauce. Add oregano, chile powder, cumin, and pepper to taste. You can leave out the chile powder and cumin if you want, but you will no longer have Mexican Pizza. Cover the pan with a splatter guard, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. 

Step 2: The dough

While the sauce is simmering and reducing, make the dough. Please note that while this is a yeast dough, you don't really give it time to rise. Don't worry, it will turn out just fine. 

1 tbl. dry yeast
Tiny, tiny pinch of sugar
1/4 cup warm water

1 cup warm water
2 tbl. olive oil
1 tbl. sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 cups flour

Dissolve the yeast and the tiny pinch of sugar in the 1/4 cup of water. Set aside, but not too far from the action. (Once I set mine somewhere safe and forgot to add it to the dough. The resulting pizza had the texture of a giant cracker and we couldn't figure out what went wrong until I found the yeast mixture later when I was doing the dishes). 

Mix the cup of warm water with the olive oil, sugar, salt, and about half the flour in the bowl of your stand mixer. Add the yeast mixture. Beat well for a couple of minutes. Slowly add the remaining flour with the mixer on slow speed, using the dough hook. 

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth. Cover with a clean towel and let the dough rest while you turn your attention to step 3. First, though, swing by the stove and give the sauce a stir. 

Step 3: The Toppings

I'm certainly not going to tell you what to put on your pizza; you are the best judge of that. I would highly recommend lots of Monterey Jack cheese for this particular pizza, but the choice is up to you. We have even used Cheddar when we had nothing else around and it was perfectly good. 

We often used browned and seasoned ground beef (seasoned with more chile powder, cumin, pepper, and a bit of salt), but sometimes we use anchovies instead, which is probably why you won't be taking my advice about toppings. 

Step 4: Assemble and Bake

By this time, your sauce has probably reduced by about one third. Divide the dough in half and roll each half out to fit your round pizza pans, which you have sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (Pam, or a generic equivalent). Before we had round pizza pans we used cookie sheets and no one minded that our pizzas were rectangular. 

Begin preheating the oven to 450. It should just about come up to temperature by the time you have the pizzas assembled.

Place the dough on each pan. Spread it with a bit of olive oil--just enough to give it a nice sheen. Spoon some of the sauce onto the dough and spread it around. Top with your choice of toppings, and then with grated cheese. 

Lately, we have taken to sprinkling our pizza with a pizza seasoning mixture that we make out of oregano, marjoram, basil, crushed red pepper, and garlic powder, all ground up together in a mortar and pestle and stored in a little shaker jar. Sprinkle this on just before the pizza goes into the oven.

Bake the pizzas at 450 for 18 minutes. Your oven may be different, so I would advise checking for doneness at around 15 minutes. The crust should be a little brown underneath and the pizza should be firm (not limp) when you lift the edge with a spatula.  

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