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Apr 6, 2010 08:48 AM

Standard pizza

I perfected the base now, so I guess I should focus on toppings. Obviously everyone will have their favorites and they'll depend on the type of base too. The basic thing is not to over-do it, but here's my "standard" pizza topping list:

Parma ham
Buffalo mozzerella
Fresh basil leaves
Red onion
A tomato-based tomato sauce
EV olive oil
black pepper and parmesan depending on what I feel like.

Obviously no two tomato sauces are the same, so it will depend a little on that, but what do you think? I started adding onion recently because I felt it was lacking a little bite. The alternative was olives (kalamata) but they tend to be pricey and harder to find (well I know where to get them, but I'm not walking all that way just for olives).

What do you guys think? Any changes you'd make? Or perhaps you have a standard classic you'd like to share. This is for a traditional thin and crispy italian style pizza, not Dominoes or Chicago style.

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  1. I used to avoid onions because they exuded too much liquid. But I started slicing them on the mandoline and haven't had that problem since. I'd also recommend going really thin on the sauce so the crust doesn't get soggy from that. I'd start with what you've suggested. Sounds great. Report back please.

    13 Replies
    1. re: c oliver

      Oh, that's what I always make, and it is delicious and quite balanced in terms of flavour; I drizzle the base with olive oil, then comes the sauce which I spread with a ladle. Black pepper goes on now, then onion (thin, as you say) then mozzerella*, then the ham, then the basil.

      I might add the basil after, as I'm not sure what flavour it's imparting now. But the ham goes on the top, as it gets a little crisp and has a nice sweet delicate flavour.

      *I experimented with the mozzella a bit to try and get it the right consistency, and I think the most important things are, don't over-cook it, and let it get to room temp when you add it. Doesn't matter if you cube it, tear it or slice it, or how thin it is, it needs to not have browned.

      1. re: Soop

        Add the (fresh) torn basil leaves after the pizza comes out of the oven. If you're using dried, it should go into the sauce for flavoring. But I don't put dried basil in pizza sauce, just a bit or oregano.

        A standard, as in very popular, in NY, aside from Margherita, is pepperoni, either with or without onions. Not sure if you have much pepperoni over there. I don't remember seeing it in London, even.

        1. re: bushwickgirl

          yah, we can get it, tho chorizo is perhaps more popular now. I used to love pepperoni, then went off of it because of the grease and bitterness, but I did hear that dry-frying/baking it, then .... blotting? it on tissue before adding it is good. that's a good look.

          Who likes blue cheese? gorgonzola?

          1. re: Soop

            Many pizzarias top their pizzas with the pepperoni after the pizza comes out of the oven, letting the residual heat "cook" it. Cheap pepperoni (as in low quality) will "cup" when baked, and you'll see fat collect in the cups, not so nice. So good quality pepperoni is in order.

            I recently had a buffalo chicken pizza, courtesy of my SIL, tangy, zippy, with bleu cheese and a buffalo tomato-based sauce, and I couldn't stop eating it. Not a classic by a long shot, and it's hard for me even to consider it as apizza, but it was really tasty.

            1. re: bushwickgirl

              yeah, that cupping thing is one of my big dislikes - hard to see how a high quality sausage would be any different in that respect though.

              Regarding the pear idea; does it just need to be a ripe pear, or do you think I should mascerate it or something?

              1. re: Soop

                High quality pepperoni, less fat than the cheap stuff, big difference.

                I was clued in to this years ago by a meat vendor salesman; I tested it out and it's true. Then I worked in a pizzaria owned by a friend of mine and he did the topping after baking. We talked about why and it's a common pizzaria trick with pepperoni, gently heats the pepperoni, and little grease release.

                1. re: Soop

                  Believe it or not, some folks strive for the "cupping" factor. Also, although I love good pepperoni, lately I've been using sweet sopressata (sliced thin) with nice results.

              2. re: Soop

                I'm fond of 'white' pizzas, and the quattro formagi that I make includes gorgonzola- the four cheeses usually are mozzarella, fontina, asagio and gorgonzola. I also brush the dough with olive oil that has been infused with garlic and sage. So simple but so good.

                1. re: TongoRad

                  That's a good look actually. "Quatro formaggio" has generally been quite bland when I've had it, but mozzerella, gorgonzola, jarlsberg and parmesan sounds like a good mix...

                  1. re: Soop

                    I've also had versions served to me that were light on the gorgonzola, even to the point where you'd barely know it was there. But the beauty of doing it at home is that you can control the blend to your own tastes. I don't know if you've seen the thread on the cast iron/broiler pizza technique, but it works splendedly with this style of pizza- you can get some judicious amounts of black char that also gives some zest of its own, and it's done in just a couple of minutes.

            2. re: Soop

              I'd say you shouldn't add the basil or the ham until the pizza comes out of the oven.

              As it relates to the mozzarella, I slice it and dry with paper towels, pressing on it, as much as possible to remove the excess moisture.

              1. re: ESNY

                OK, might try it your way. Definitely with the basil and moz.

          2. yours sound perfect (except for the ham :) )
            lots of garlic for sure
            I think broccoli rabe holds up better than spinach
            I must also admit I like pineapple on pizza with red onions and fresh romas

            3 Replies
            1. re: enbell

              enbell,stop! Just stop :) You're going to ruin the reputation of us Left Coasters. NO PINEAPPLE on pizza. NOOOOOOOOOOOO.

              I got a good tip from Alkapal along time ago to fine chop some rosemary and press it into the oil-rubbed dough before adding any other toppings. Really good.

              1. re: c oliver

                lol, with you on the pineapple C :D

                Might try the rosemary tho... did wonder about putting herbs in dough - seems a bit.... untraditional?

                1. re: Soop

                  I've been known to add bananas to Hawaiian pizza when I'm in the mood for a little sweetness. they get all smooshy in the oven, and it's surprisngly good.

            2. one of my new faves- brush crust w/ olive oil, sprinkle w/ mozz, top w/ thinly sliced pear and a few crumbles of gorg/ roquefort/ bleu cheese. when zza is out of oven, top with arugula/rocket/watercress and drizzle a bit of EVOO on the greens. adam

              3 Replies
              1. re: adamshoe

                Do you eat that for dinner or salad or desert?

                1. re: adamshoe

                  this combo also benefits from the crunch of some pecans (or walnuts).

                  1. re: adamshoe

                    Thanks Adam; it's wierd but I asked Donna yesterday if she liked Gorgonzola on pizza, and she wasically said something very similar to you. Might have to be done, but for her, not for me.

                  2. A couple of comments:

                    - As others have stated, ham and a 500 degree oven sometimes do not get along, jfood NEVER adds prosciutto before baking, that is a post heat topping. Likewise with basil.
                    - Every now and then he likes a little onion on the pizza and the correct width is important, too thin they burn, too thick they do not cook. Jfood uses very sparingly
                    - Toppings he likes are a good fennel sausage, some roasted peppers and sauteed mushrooms. Adding uncooked mushrooms is a bad idea since the water they will exude. Finding a good meatball recipe has been a lifelong adventure that still continues. Pepperoni is also great and to solve thcupping proble make a slice along the radius to stop the curl, similar to sauteeing certain cuts of fish (snapper fillets comes to mind)
                    - The rosemary into the dough idea is brilliant, put that puppy in the tool kit
                    - Now onto the OMGs. It is NOT a pizza (call it a flatbread please) if you add pineapple, nuts, fruits Thai anything, Buffalo anything.

                    When does the "perfected" dough get posted or if it has, could you post the link.


                    10 Replies
                    1. re: jfood

                      Hey JFood, here's the dough recipe, (kind of, I never measure anything)

                      Ingredients are:
                      Plain flour
                      salt sugar (not a lot though)
                      Yeast (same)

                      Mix up a batch, let it rise, and then refrigerate for 3 days. It will smell quite acidic
                      The day after you mix that batch, mix another one, but don't let it rise before you refrigerate.

                      Then on the day, mix the two together and let it warm up.

                      1. re: Soop

                        The purpose of Batch #2 is...?

                        1. re: jfood

                          The first batch is "Pâte Fermentée" or old dough; because it's left to rise, then refrigerated, it creates compounds not normally present in dough.

                          The second batch is regular dough, but it's had its development retarded to create a more complex flavour.

                          You can use either, but the second would be a little bland (like bread) and the second one would taste a litle funny (kind of sour). But together, they seem to be exactly what I was aiming for.

                          There might be a simpler way of doing it I'll admit, but it worked that time


                          1. re: Soop

                            OK, here goes...

                            You have two bowls of dough (old and new). now what, do you combine a little, do youmake them separately to get different flavors? Help please.

                            BTW - Great link, TY

                            1. re: jfood

                              I used 50/50, and I think the flavour is different

                            2. re: Soop

                              people often let their dough rise in the fridge for 2-4 days. there's no need to mix it with "new" dough. it can be used on its own.

                              i routinely make dough and use it days later, as the flavor develops over time.

                              1. re: tommy

                                It can be used, but it tastes different IMO - does someone else want to try it and report back?

                                I'm making some now for saturday lunch

                                1. re: Soop

                                  it sounds like you've got it figured out. good luck!

                        2. re: jfood

                          I was planning on asking for that recipe also. Thanks for beating me to it.

                          I make my own bulk Italian sausage. I partially/mostly cook it and drain it on paper towel before putting it on the pizza.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            That's a really good idea...

                            But recently I've just been slicing sausage casings open and making a parry from 2 sausages (makes it easier to get an even brown, and you only have to flip once rather than trying to contort the sausages so they don't burn).

                            However, if I get some sausage meat, I'll be able to make my own fennel sausages (something I've wanted to eat for a while) and fry off small pinches for pizzas.