I have always been a bit of a self-admitted pizza snob. I truly believe that less is more. I believe it not about how many toppings you can put on a pizza, but the quality you put in to the pizza. My perfect pizza would be a thin and uber crispy base coated in a fresh-from-the-garden tomato sauce, quality fresh mozzarella and lots of basil. That’s it! You need to let the ingredients shine, not hide them with sub-par toppings. I cringe when I see pizza slices that flop over because of the mountain of garbage atop their flimsy, undercooked crust, ketchup-like sauce and overload of low quality cheese. It has been my goal in the past couple of weeks to perfect a pizza recipe that would leave me satisfied.

To be honest, I’m not quite there… yet! I’m close, though. So I’m presenting you with the guidelines from which I’ve been working. Feel free to get creative. Just remember, keep it simple and use quality ingredients.

Ingredients

For the dough:

1 cups Lukewarm Water

3 ½ cups Flour + more for dusting

1 pkg Dry Active Yeast

2 tbsp Rendered Bacon Fat

1 tbsp Salt

1 tbsp Sugar

Makes 3-4 12” pizzas

For the sauce

1 can San Marzano Tomatoes

4 cloves Garlic, minced

10 Basil Leaves, torn

6 sprigs Fresh Oregano Leaves

2 tbsp Parmigiano Reggiano, grated

Toppings:

(Whatever you like)

2 strips Maple Leaf Bacon

¼ cup Chanterelle Mushrooms

2 tbsp Goat Cheese

¼ cup Shredded mozzarella

8 thin slices Zucchini

Directions

Dough

1. Fry up your bacon. We’re going to need the fat right away, and we can save the cooked strips for later. They’ll heat up in the oven with the pizza.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the dough hook attachment, add in your water, yeast, bacon fat, salt and sugar. Mix everything together and let it stand for about 5 minutes. The yeast should start to do some work – it should be a little frothy.

3. With your mixer on low, add in your flour a little at a time until the dough begins to come together. Once you’ve added all your flour, let your mixer knead the dough for about 5-10 minutes.

4. Once the dough is smooth, turn it onto a dusted surface and knead it with your hands to stiffen it up for about 5 more minutes. Form your dough into a nice round ball.

Note: If you don’t have a stand mixer, you can do this all by hand. It’s a little more work, but it’s much more satisfying. Dump all your flour onto the counter, make a well in the center and add in the rest of the ingredients into the center. Let it sit just like you did before, then slowly begin to incorporate the flour and knead for 10 minutes.

5. Place your dough ball in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let your dough rise for 1hr in a nice, warm place. It should double in size.

6. Once risen, re-knead the dough, portion into 3-4 balls. These are now ready to go.

For the sauce

7. This is the easy part – mix all the ingredients together. Boom. Done. No need to cook it, since it will cook on the pizza.

[Editors Note: Pretty sure Chef Rob doesn't want to give away his secret recipe]

 

Pizza Assembly

8. If you have a pizza stone, put it in the oven on the bottom rack and THEN preheat your oven as hot as it can go for about an hour. We want the oven SUPER hot and we need that stone to get as hot as it possibly can. It will take a lot longer for the stone to get hot than will the air in the oven. If you don’t have a pizza stone, you can use a baking sheet (upside down) or a large cast iron pan.

Note: You can preheat your oven while your dough is rising!

9. On a floured pizza pallet, press out and stretch your dough into a 12” round circle. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect, it gives it a more rustic feel. This takes some practice, so don’t get discouraged. Try not to use a rolling pin. If you do, you’ll be eliminating all those beautiful air pockets and bubbles we created when we let the yeast do its business. Press it out with your fingers, then stretch it on your knuckles in the air. Toss it up if you feel so inclined.

10. Top your pizza. Begin with the sauce, then the mozzarella and finally your toppings of choice. Of course I chose the remainder of my bacon, plus some gorgeous chanterelle mushrooms, a few slices of delicious zucchini and a spotting of goat cheese. Like I said, less is more. If you add too many toppings, especially if they release a lot of water. You’ll wind up with a soggy crust and nobody likes that.

11. Place your pizza directly onto the stone and close your oven. Use your oven light to monitor the pizza. Keep from opening the door because we want all the heat IN the oven. If your oven is truly hot, the pizza should only take about 5-8 minutes to cook. But once you see the top of the crust begin to turn a nice golden brown, you’re good to go.

12. Cut, serve and make another 10 pizzas, because you’re an expert now, right?