I can also confess that on the rare occasions that I encounter this type of "pizza", I love eating them, with even things such as Pepperoni plastered upon them.
I know they are unhealthy. I know they are swimming in grease, and generally quite nasty, but I still eat them occasionally. Admittedly, I have to say, I sort of enjoy it.
Despite this, deep down inside me, they annoy me immensely, as being poor imposters of the real thing.
I suppose the same way that real genuine Chinese or Indian food, bares no, or little resemblance, to the stuff served up in our take-outs, the same sorry state of affairs, applies to Pizza. It is a fast food love affair with something that is knowingly quite fundamentally wrong.
Truthfully. Pizza is one of those foods, that has really evolved beyond any recognition in many parts of the world. Despite my admission of occasionally eating them. Take-out readymade Pizza in particular, is an awful thing.
Artifical tasting bases, made far too thick, and doughy. Basically tasting as if they are made from floor sweepings and pure salt (probably, not far from the truth).
This is then compunded further by the toppings ranging from barbecue sauces, cheddar cheese, pineapple, chicken, hams, pepperoni. I mean what is pepperoni anyway? Aside from greasy, and probably made from some kind of meat by-product, in its murky past. It has as much in common with real Italian Salami, as has someone from Vietnam in common with a Korean.
Those other toppings also do not belong to an Italian pizza.
OK I grant you, these Pizza's may taste nice, they may be convenient. I am not unduly knocking what is essentially a part of culture in many parts of the world.
Is it however, a real Pizza?
Would Italians recognize it as a Pizza?
The answer has to be an undisputable, No! No Way!
Far from being a relatively healthy meal, most Pizzas found in take-outs, the cheaper chain eateries, or in the frozen food aisles of supermarkets have been turned into salt laden, artery clogging affairs.
In all honesty I would strongly urge people to avoid these, other than the rare occasional treats. Certainly never poison your children's opinion of pizza by feeding them these vile creations, as unfortunately many parents in the UK seem to enjoy doing.
Now think of a Neapolitan Pizza, a freshly base with doughy chewy edges with REAL flavour, all made using fresh ingredients. Think of a freshly made sauce with real tomatoes, or using fresh garlic, and herbs. Think of real mozarella torn into pieces over the top. And finally think of all this being placed into an exceptionally hot, wood burning, clay oven.
Do you suppose the ever so slightly smokey (slightly burned in places) base, and beautiful fresh herby tasting topping has any similarity to the aforementioned take out variety, NOPE., Absolutely not.
However with a tiny bit of effort you can create an Italian pizza in your home. A pizza which is healthy to eat, and a million miles away from the awful ready made ones.
I grant you very few people are going to own a clay oven, and despite the fact modern home ovens are capable of reaching fairly high temperatures, it will be nowhere near hot enough. Do not despair! As however there is a trick you can use. I want to demonstrate here, that absolutely excellent results are achieveable at home. The taste is pretty close to what you could enjoy on the Amalfi coast, at a fraction of the price of a resturaunt, and as all my recipes, VERY little effort is needed.
(for 2 large 12" square pizza's)
SIMPLE PIZZA DOUGH:
1/2 teaspoon of fast acting dried yeast (like the stuff you would use in a breadmaker)
300g (11 ounces) Strong white flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
REAL PIZZA DOUGH:
2-3 tablespoon of sourdough starter
300g (11 ounces) Strong white flour
1 teaspoon of salt
100-150ml water (use as much as required to form a dough)
400g best quality tomatoes
This is a matter of conjecture, you can in theory add whatever you wish, for this example though, I am making a simple Margherita Pizza. Delicious and cheap.
1 Mozeralla ball torn into small pieces
Dozen or so Basil leaves torn up
Some Olive oil,
Freshly greated parmesan to sprinkle before baking,
-The Pizza Dough; OK a choice. If pressed for time you can make the simple dough recipe, or if you have fresh yeast or better yet sourdough starter I highly recommend the authentic REAL pizza dough recipe.
- There a host of methods of doing this mixing business, you can do this by hand, in a food processor, or even in a breadmaker as we do. Essentially you mix together all the ingredients, knead for ten-fifteen minutes ball up and allow for leaving the dough in a warm place to "prove" for around 20-30 minutes if using right away but preferably, for REAL dough you need to rest for 24-48 hours. Basically you want the dough to develop character and flavour. Once done, you can prepare your topping sauce as in the next step.
-Whizz/pulse in a food processor (or with a hand blender) the tomatoes until relatively smooth. Prepare the rest of the toppings, put to one side.
-Once all your ingredients are ready, preheat a grill. And a heavy bottomed frying pan with no oil on a high heat setting. It is important you heat your pan until it is VERY hot. You can obviously use a real pizza oven.
-Next stretch and work each ball seperately as needed, so that they form a very thin base but with a cornicone (deeper crust at edge), and will fit into whatever pan your using. Use your best judgement, but it should feel very thin in the middle, and the edges should be a bit thicker maybe an inch.
-Now drop one of the Pizza bases into the hot pan, leave for a few minutes. Then quickly smear over your sauce (not too much, not to wet), and finally add the toppings, waste as little time as you can, aim to get the pizza under the grill as quick as you can. Hotter and quicker you work, the better.
-After about 2-3 minutes baking in that hot grill, your pizza will be ready. I like it slightly charred, but obviously use your judgement. The beauty of baking at a high temp in the pan, means that the base will be well done, but the crusts will be cooked but still pliable, chewy and tasty.
In the pictures below, you can see my Margharita, enjoyed with a nice ale. Albeit the thinness of the base is not obvious, you can take my word for it, it was. Another thing worth mentioning again, is don't add to much sauce, or to many wet toppings, or you will get a soggy bottom. And who wants that!
Keep in mind that these are best eaten hot. Enjoy!