The Endless Varieties of Pizza
When one thinks about Italian food, typically the first thing you would think about is pizza. It has a rich history and has become a part of the culture of Italy. There are a tremendous amount of styles, sizes and flavors making it a rather versatile style of food. And the best part about it is it really is not all that difficult to make.
The earliest pizzeria known to have opened was in 1830 at Via Port'Alba 18 in Naples. At the time it was considered "poor man's food" and it was a slower slow developer in terms of popularity. It was not until the 1950's that the pizza really began to flourish, especially in the US.
Some of the leading early pizza chains included Shakey's Pizza and Pizza Hut, which were both founded in 1954. Today, some of the more popular companies that are known for home delivery include Domino's, Papa John's Pizza, Blackjack, and still Pizza Hut. Although this makes for a quick and easy meal, it is by no means an authentic Italian recipe.
Everyone says you have not experienced a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich until you have been to Philadelphia or a bratwurst until you have been to Germany. The same goes for pizza as the Italians really do know what they are doing. The good news is there are exquisite recipes one can follow to bring Italy into the kitchen.
There are three main ingredients with pizza; the sauce, cheese and dough. Outside of that, it really is up to you as to what goes on the pizza. Popular ingredients include pepperoni, sausage, bacon, olives, green peppers and onions. However, there is no limit as to what you can put on a pizza.
Although the three definite on a pizza are cheese, sauce and dough, even these can be varied. As for the sauce you can enjoy basic tomato pizza sauce, classic sauce with more of a basil and oregano flavor, or a tomato herb sauce. There are a number of different sauces to consider. For the dough, some people like thin crust, others like large crust, and some even like cheese filled crust. And with cheese there is nothing stopping you from using American, Swiss, cheddar, or even spice it up with Monterey Jack cheese.
The thing you need to realize about cooking pizza is that there are no limits. As long as it consists of your favorite ingredients and is thoroughly cooked, you are bound to be satisfied. Here is a recipe for a Chicago style pizza:
- 1 Package active dry yeast
- 2 teas. Sugar
- 1 1/4 cups Warm water
- 2 3/4 cups All-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 3 tbls. Olive oil
- 1 teas. Salt
- 1 cup Pizza sauce
- 12 oz. Shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 lb. Ground beef, crumbled, cooked
- 1/4 lb. Italian Sausage, crumbled, cooked
- 1/4 lb. Pork Sausage, crumbled, cooked
- 1/2 cup Pepperoni, diced
- 1/2 cup Canadian bacon, diced
- 1/2 cup Ham, diced
- 1/4 lb. Mushrooms, sliced
- 1 small Onion, sliced
- 1 Green bell pepper, seeded, sliced
- 2 oz. Grated Parmesan cheese
- For dough, sprinkle yeast and sugar into warm water in small bowl; allow stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.
- Mix flour, cornmeal, oil and salt in a large bowl; make a well in the center and add yeast mixture.
- Stir to form a soft dough, adding more flour if necessary.
- Turn onto a floured board and knead until dough is supple and elastic, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Transfer to a large bowl, cover and let rise in a warm spot until dough has doubled, about 1 hour.
- Punch down dough.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll dough to a 13-inch circle.
- Transfer to an oiled 12-inch pizza pan, folding the excess over to make a small rim.
- Spread with pizza sauce sprinkle with all but a useful of the mozzarella cheese.
- Sprinkle with meats and vegetables.
- Top with remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.
- Let rise in a warm spot about 25 minutes.
- Heat oven to 475 degrees.
- Bake pizza until crust is golden, about 25 minutes.
- Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.