It's finally in the oven as I type this, but I don't have high hopes for my first pizza. Here is what I've learned thus far:
- I should probably use less garlic and Tabasco in the red sauce.
- Getting the dough from a large sticky ball into a nice pliable disk that fits the pan perfectly is damn near impossible without *lots* of practice.
- Don't set ingredients behind me when I'm doing the final assembly. I'll forget something, like say, the mushrooms in the strainer. Once the sauce goes on top, well, the pie will look like it's got acne.
- I didn't need as much cheese as I thought I did.
- Don't set foil down on the counter to roll the dough on, thinking that it'll make cleaning up all that flour easier. It might be easier to clean up, but it's a cast-iron bitch to roll dough on, and even worse, pull the dough off of once it's finally close to the right size.
Updates to follow in a couple of hours. Maybe a picture, too.
Ok, we finally have a pizza! First of all, it didn't turn out as bad as I thought it would. But like I said before--just how bad can you screw up pizza? Here is a picture of the finished product:
Not too shabby... If you look closely, you'll see that the crust shrunk down a bit and pulled away from the edges of the pan. I also think it could've used a couple more minutes in the oven, but the mushrooms on top were starting to dry out, so I had to get it out of there. I also sprinkled some Parmesan cheese on top just before I put it in the oven--won't do that again--it browns too quickly. Once it came out, however, I gave it another sprinkle of Parmesan, along with some fresh chopped basil.
The sauce turned out ok--Rob gave it his seal of approval, but I could still smell the Tabasco in it. It didn't ruin it, but it wasn't as good as it could've been. I minced four cloves of garlic, sauteed them in olive oil, then added a can of crushed tomatoes and a small can of tomato paste to thicken it up. I meant to put just a teaspoon of Tabasco in, but ended up using closer to a tablespoon--a mistake I won't repeat.
Underneath the sauce was almost two pounds of Italian sausage, pepperoni, and mozzarella cheese. I went with the low-moisture part-skim mozz instead of the fresh mozzarella on this pie. It seems like the fresh stuff is more suitable for thin Neopolitan style pies, not deep dish. But we'll see where our next experiment takes us.
I'm sure I'm being almost too critical of my pizza, but only because I wanted it to be perfect, and it wasn't. On the other hand, I have a new-found respect for those guys that can roll out that dough into a perfect circle and get it to behave the way they want it to. Man, that was the hardest part--I worked up a sweat trying to work the dough, and it was still too thick around the edges.
But even though it didn't look as good as it should have, it still tasted pretty damn good, and of course I could only get down two pieces before waving the white napkin of surrender. I was stuffed.
I still have two pizza crusts in the freezer, along with a pound or so of mozzarella, a package of pepperoni, and a tub of sliced mushrooms. And one of the ladies I work with said she has an extra pizza stone she's gonna give to me, so maybe next week I'll try my hand at thin-crust pan-less pizza. It's gotta be easier than this monster. Of course, I might still be eating leftovers until then.