Neapolitan-Style Pizza

So technically, this cannot be called Neapolitan pizza because there is a governing body of Neapolitan pizza, oh I’m not lying, but it is an homage and it ranks among the best pizzas I have ever eaten.

Now, yes, I have already covered pizza, of the deep dish Chicago variety, but this pizza is an entirely different animal.

First, you need 00 flour.  It’s a very high gluten flour, so if you don’t have access to it, then bread flour would be best, and AP will work in a pinch.

Neapolitan-Style Pizza Dough is just like my other pizza dough recipe, except water instead of beer, and no honey, and 00 flour instead of bread flour or bread flour/semolina (00 flour has an even higher protein content than bread and is one of the standards for Neapolitan pizza). Neapolitan pizza is about clean simple straightforward flavors and a thin, crispy, almost cracker-like crust. Also, to conform, you have to hand knead the dough or knead it in a mixer on low speed.  10 minutes should do it.

So, you made some pizza dough?  Awesome.  Now, while it’s proofing (rising), make this – marinara sauce, but if you want to be more traditional, you have to use San Marzano tomatoes. Also, just adding some garlic, basil, salt and pepper to them and letting it all simmer together would be more acceptable to the authorities.

So now that you have those, the simplest pizza would just call for buffalo mozzarella, and you would hand stretch the dough (no rolling pins allowed….) to 1/12 of an inch so it could cook in your wood burning oven for 90 seconds. What’s that? You haven’t installed a wood-burning oven in your kitchen?  Yeah, weird, me neither. So for those of us who don’t have tens of thousands of dollars and excellent ventilation nor the desire to get an oven to 900 degrees, a ripping hot oven will suffice, and a pizza stone will help:

It’s not “traditional”, but it is the same type of idea, and it results in irresistible pizza.

1/2 recipe pizza dough
1/2 recipe marinara sauce, room temp
1 link mild italian sausage
4 oz marinated artichokes, rough chopped
4 ounce mushrooms, sliced thin
4 ounces melting cheese (I used goat gouda to approximate buffalo mozz, but if you combined 1 oz goat cheese and 3 oz mozzarella, that would be pretty close)
handful of spinach, tossed with a lil’ bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt
1 tablespoon basil, torn or chiffonaded
olive oil

First, preheat oven to 450 and a pan (cast iron if you got it, baby) to medium.

Open a beer.

You’re not going to cook with it – you should just have one.

Brown your sausage.

Don’t worry about cooking it all the way through at this point.  Just get a good sear on the outside.  It’s gonna go in a ripping hot oven for 15 minutes, it’s going to get cooked.

Then remove sausage from the pan and get the mushrooms in there with a lil’ salt.

A chef once told me that you can't get a good sear on mushrooms if you add salt in the beginning because it makes them release too much water.

This makes no sense. The water is going to evaporate either way and the mushrooms are gonna get their sear. So unless you overcrowd the pan, it's going to happen one way or the other. I'd rather get salt in the pan with 'em.

When they’re seared and nearly done, add a baby bit of water and scrape all the fatty sausage goodness off the bottom of the pan and into the mushrooms.  Cook until the water is all cooked off. Remove from heat.

I roll out my dough with a pin.  Because I can’t do that spinny thing in the air.  Don’t judge me.  I’ve tried.  Turns out, time spent on the floor adds nothing to the pizza crust in general.  Except for maybe dog hair.  Yeah, that happened.  Blech.

I start with a round ball.  I put the pin in the center.  I roll up.  I return to center.  Roll down.  Rotate a quarter turn.  Repeat. Roll until about 16″ in diameter.

I got pizza skillz, son.

Move gently to a sheet pan if you don’t happen to have a pizza stone (or if you’re to lazy to get it out).  If you want to go pizza stone, get it in the oven while you’re preheating the oven, liberally flour or corn meal or semolina the back of a sheet pan, and use that as a pizza peel.  Before you go to oven, give your pizza a shake, should move freely on the pan.  If it doesn’t, use a bench scraper or spatula to release it and get some more flour/cornmeal/semolina under there until it does roll freely.

Drizzle the edges with olive oil.

Using your finger, paint the edges with olive oil. About a 1/2″ to 1″ border.

Top with sauce inside the border.Top with sausage, mushrooms, and artichokes.  Nope, hold on the spinach and basil.  They’re finishing moves.

Top with cheese.

For peel method – move the peel to the back of the stone, shimmy the first half of the pizza onto the stone and quickly remove the rest.  Think tablecloth with dishes still on the table.

For pan – put in oven

Bake for 15 minutes, until bubbly and melty and ideally golden brown around edges and on top.

Meanwhile, toss the spinach with olive oil and a teensy bit of salt and tear or chiffonade basil.

As soon as the pizza comes out, top with spinach and basil.  Walk away for 10 minutes.  I know.  It’s hard for me too. The heat will wilt the greens.

Have at!

(the sausage is not absolutely necessary.  So go ahead and make this vegetarian if you wanna, it will still, I assure you, rock your world.)


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