Friday, January 09, 2009

Pizza Margherita à la Peter Reinhart

1/2 pre-ferment (8 oz.)
1 (28-oz.) can D.O.C. San Marzano tomatoes (my preference, but you can use any type canned tomatoes you like)
2 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons fresh basil, rolled up and thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, pressed
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste

Take a pre-fermented pizza dough out of refrigerator two-hours before making pizza. Degas as little as possible, form into a ball, spray the ball with Pam, and place in a plastic bag on the kitchen counter (I reuse one of those vegetable bags from the grocery store).

Meanwhile make the red sauce. Pulse the can of tomatoes a few times in the food processor to achieve "crushed tomatoes". Add 2 tablespoons of the basil, dried oregano, pressed garlic, salt, and vinegar.

Any leftover sauce will keep in the refrigerator for up to one week.

Place a baking stone in the lower third of you oven. Preheat oven for at least 30 minutes before baking the pizza. When the pre-ferment has rested two hours, gently remove it from the bag, dust it heavily with flour, and gently press it into a disk about 1-inch thick. Heavily flour your knuckles, place them under the disk, and start working the dough out into a thin circle. If the dough resists during this process, just let it rest for a few minutes until it relaxes and begin working it out again. It doesn't have to end up in a circle; any shape that will fit on your stone if fine. When it is sufficiently thin, place it on a floured pizza paddle or sheet pan and thinly ladle on the red sauce starting in the center (if you use too much sauce you pizza will be soggy). Slide it onto the pizza stone and set your timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, check it and see if it needs to be rotated 180º for even cooking. After about six minutes, remove it from the oven and decorate it with small balls or slices of fresh mozzarella cheese. Return it to the oven, rotating it again and cook for another 5 to 7 minutes, until sufficiently brown and crisp. Remove it from the oven, sprinkle it with a little kosher salt and remaining basil, and drizzle the whole thing with a small amount of olive oil.

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