Fresh Tomato Pizza Pie

It’s not every day that a mild-mannered database architect decides to reinvent himself as a pizzaiolo. Learning to make good pizza like real Neopolitan pizza makers takes forethought, time, and stamina. The art of pizza-making is not something I thought my husband would take up for fun. When he asked for a pizza stone and a peel for his birthday last September, I confess that I didn’t have high hopes. But I failed to take into account that my husband is from Chicago. This is the same man who wanted to name one of our children “Walter Payton.” This is the guy who wept real tears when the Bears lost the Superbowl in 2007. This is the guy who has had dreams about authentic Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. Suffice it to say, the dude has gotten really, really good at making pizza. Here are the secrets to his latest pie, which takes advantage of the ripest, freshest tomatoes in our markets and gardens right now.

The pizzaiolo says: “This is inspired by Chicago thin-crust pizza, which uses a lot of garlic, onion and seasonings in its sauce. There is enough dough to make three pies, and enough onion-garlic to do the same. The trick with the dough is to let it rise overnight.” Um, amen.

For dough:

3.5 cups bread flour
1 packet dry active yeast
1 1/4 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup of the warm water and the yeast, and stir. Allow to sit for 5 minutes, then add the remaining water. In a food processor, pulse the flour and salt until they are combined. Slowly add the water and oil, until the dough forms a ball. Roll the dough into a disk, and place into an oiled metal bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and leave at room temp for at least 2 hours; 24 hours is best.

For sauce:

2 medium yellow onions, chopped
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium pan over medium heat, heat the oil. Add the garlic and stir, 1 minute. Add the onions and lower the heat to medium-low. Sprinkle with salt. Saute for 15 minutes, or until onions begin to soften and become translucent. Puree in a blender or food processor until well combined and creamy. Set aside.

To assemble 1 pizza:

1 dough disk
2 tablespoons garlic-onion sauce
2 large or 3 medium ripe fresh tomatoes, seeded and thinly sliced
1 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon oregano

1 large sheet of parchment paper
small dish of lukewarm water
small dish of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 550, with a pizza stone inside, for at least 30 minutes.

By this point, the dough should have tripled in size. Punch the dough down, and cut off 1/3 of it.

Roll the dough out into a round that is 12-14″ diameter. Brush a little of the lukewarm water around the entire rim of the dough. Fold over and press, to form a “lip.” Brush the olive oil around the lip of the crust. Place the parchment paper on the peel, then place the crust on top of the parchment paper. Spread the garlic sauce on the bottom of the dough, then top with the mozzarella, then the tomatoes, and, finally, sprinkle on the parmesan and the oregano.

Using a peel, slide the pizza directly onto the heated stone in the oven. Bake for 6 minutes, or until cheese begins to brown.

Remove the pizza from the stone with a peel. Let cool 3 minutes, and serve. Your wife will love you for it.

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