More about Pizza… Toppings that is!

A few weeks ago I posted about techniques for making great pizza at home. You can see that post by clicking here. Since then one question keeps coming up “What are your favorite pizza toppings?” As I mentioned in my original post, the great thing about pizza is that you can be creative and have fun with lots of different topping combinations. But since you asked, here is a topping combination that I think is out of this world! I have made this for friends on many occasions, and it is always a crowd pleaser. I always hide a slice for myself when it comes out of the oven, because this pizza is gone in a blink.

The trick to this topping combinations greatness, is a mix of both sweet and savory elements.

  • Caramelized Onions – Sweetened with a little brown sugar – The way Mom does it!
  • Pepperoni – Everyone loves pepperoni
  • Sliced Black Olives – There is a love hate relationship here for most people
  • Chopped Garlic – Enough said!

The spicyness of the pepperoni, the saltyness of the black olives combined with the sweetness of the caramelized onions… Can you say, party in your mouth! Top that with some garlicy goodness and you have an absolute winning combination in terms of pizza toppings. The video below shows a good demonstration of how I top a pizza. Once you try it, make sure to let me know what you think.

Sweet Caramelized Onions –

1 Medium Yellow Onion sliced
3 Tbs Brown Sugar
1 Tbs Olive Oil
½ tsp Salt

In a frying pan add your oil and heat over medium heat. Once the oil is hot, add your sliced onion to the pan. Let the onions cook for 4 – 5 minutes, until they become translucent. Add your salt, this will pull some of the liquid from the onions helping them to continue to cook down. Add the brown sugar and stir, coating all of the onions. Lower the heat from medium to low and be careful not to burn the onions at this point. Continue to cook the onions for about 7 – 10 more minutes over low heat. Watch them closely and continue to stir them every few minutes. You want the onions to be completely cooked down (See the picture below). Remove the pan from the heat and let them cool to a temperature that will allow you to handle them without burning yourself while placing them on your pizza.

Restaurant Quality Pizza – Made at Home

About six years ago my wife and I moved from the Boston area to Texas. We left an area rich with great Italian food and… amazing pizza! We were both a little shocked to discover that the pizza in Texas, just isn’t that good. Sorry Houstonians! You may think your pizza is good, but clearly you have not eaten pizza in the North End of Boston. Great pizza is chewy and crispy with a perfect combination of flavorful cheese and tangy tomato. That great combination is difficult to find here in Texas.

Luckily I worked for several years as a restaurant manager in an Italian restaurant and have learned the finer art of pizza making. In my years working in the restaurant industry I have made thousands of pizzas. Since my options for finding good pizza in Houston were non existent, I decided to figure out how to make great restaurant quality pizza at home.

Over the last few years I have been perfecting my cheese combination and sauce recipe. I have experimented with different cooking techniques to produce a perfectly cooked pizza in my home oven, not some special pizza oven. The results have been sensational and I am excited to share them with you! This video and the recipes below are my secrets to making great pizza… at home.

Tools you will need –
– 1 or 2 Stoneware Pizza Stones – Available here
– Pizza Cutter – This is the one I use
– Pizza Peel – Available here
– Pizza Ladle / Spoodle – A ladle bent flat, see video – Order here

Place your pizza stone into your oven, and then preheat your oven to 500 degrees. It is critical that before turning your oven on, that you place your pizza stone into the oven, so that the temperature of both rises simultaneously. Once your oven reaches 500 degrees wait 10 – 15 minutes before starting, to ensure that your pizza stone comes to temperature. Now you are ready to start making pizza!

Dough –

If you have a good recipe for pizza dough feel free to make your own. Mario Batalli has a good recipe that you can find here. I prefer to purchase a few dough balls from a local pizza restaurant. They usually only charge me a few dollars for two or three dough balls and it makes the process a little easier. Ask the manager at your favorite local pizza shop if they will sell you large dough balls, in my experience most will not have a problem with it.

– Make sure that your dough temperature is at 60 degrees fahrenheit before pounding out your dough. If your dough is too cold you will end up with lots of bubbles when you cook the pizza.

{UPDATE} I get a lot of questions about making dough – Janae Monir has a great post about pizza dough on her food blog – Click here.

Pizza Sauce –

Enough for 4 large pizza’s

1 28 oz container Pomi Strained Tomatoes (You can substitute Hunt’s Tomato Sauce if Pomi is unavailable)
1 6 oz Can of Hunt’s Tomato Paste
½ tsp Garlic Powder
1 ½ tsp Salt
1 tsp Oregano

Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and mix together until smooth. If you have time, let the sauce sit for at least an hour before making your pizza. You want all of the flavors to come together. You can even make the sauce a day ahead and store it in your fridge until you are ready to use it.

Cheese Combination –
I like the following combination, but feel free to experiment and try different cheeses.

– Sliced Provolone cheese (I like Sargento or Boar’s Head)
– Sliced or shredded mozzarella (Some mozzarella cheeses, especially the shredded version don’t have a lot of flavor)
– Shredded Sharp Cheddar cheese
– Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese

Toppings???? Go crazy, have fun, be creative. Pizza is such a fun dinner to make at home, because the combinations of toppings are endless. Get your kids involved and make it a family adventure in the land of pizza making. (For more on toppings see one of my newer posts on pizza toppings)

If you have any questions please leave a comment below, I will make sure to answer. Have fun and enjoy making tasty pizza in the comfort of your own home!