You know what's bad about pizza? Nothing. You know what's bad about loving pizza and living in a small town in Mexico? A lot of things. Primarily that I don't have an oven and there are two pizza places in Miahuatlán--one is ok and the other is positively revolting. Enjoying a truly delicious pizza this past weekend was a rare and delightful pleasure.
During my weekend travels I spent Sunday afternoon through Monday morning in Puerto Escondido. The town is one of the larger (if not the largest) towns on the Oaxacan coast. It is a popular tourist destination, because of incredible surfing, bountiful nightlife, and lovely beaches. The crowd that this drew, however, at times made me feel like I was simultaneously at an extremely large frat party and Bob Marley cover band concert. Frat boys and trustifarians? What a lovely combination.
Fortunately, the blitzed and shirtless are not the only ones drawn to Puerto Escondido. The town has a large number of visitors and expats from Italy. Apparently this is partially due to a popular Italian movie Puerto Escondido. While they may be among the bare chested numbskulls I sneered at, with the Italian tourists came the Italian restaurants. So it's all right by me.
Capers, mushrooms, ham, and artichokes smothered in mozzarella sat atop a perfectly sweet and mildly vinegary tomato sauce. Oh and the crust. I am a true believer that the crust is what divides a good pizza and a great pizza. This one was great. It had that slight crackery-crispness in spots that gives way to a soft chewiness, with a nice floury feel when it first touches your mouth. Mmmm. This reminiscence will get me through another pizzaless month.
Though I haven't been able to make it here, my favorite pizza crust recipe is from one of Ina Garten's cookbooks. I think it is Barefoot Contessa: Parties. I don't have the cookbook here, but I found the recipe on the interweb and copied it for your pizzaing pleasure.
For the dough:nocoupons
- 1 1/4 cups warm (100 to 110 degrees F) water
- 2 packages dry yeast
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 3 tablespoons good olive oil
- 4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for kneading
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
For the dough, combine the water, yeast, honey, and olive oil in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add 3 cups flour, then the salt, and mix. While mixing, add 1 more cup of flour, or enough to make a soft dough. Knead the dough on low to medium speed for about 10 minutes until smooth, sprinkling it with flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking to the bowl.
When the dough is ready, turn it out onto a floured board and knead by hand a dozen times. It should be smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a well-oiled bowl and turn it several times to cover it lightly with oil. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into 6 equal parts and roll each one into a smooth ball. Place the balls on a baking sheet and cover them with a damp towel. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes. Use immediately, or refrigerate for up to 4 hours.
If you've chilled the dough, take it out of the refrigerator approximately 30 minutes ahead to let it come to room temperature. Roll and stretch each ball into a rough 8-inch circle and place them all on baking sheets sprinkled with cornmeal. (You will be able to fit 2 pizzas on each 18 by 13-inch baking sheet.)Top with desired ingredients. Bake for 8-12 minutes (or until crust is golden brown) at 450 degrees. (The version I found on the internet was for grilling these bad boys, but I'm pretty sure these are the directions in the cookbook.)
These pizzas are so good. I love the size they are and playing around with different toppings for each pizza. It's a good clean out your fridge creativity exercise. Here are two of my favorite topping combinations I've created in my pizza frenzies. Throw them on in whatever proportion you see fit. Usually I use diced tomatoes, garlic, and oregano instead of pizza sauce, but again, as you like it.
Potato (bake or boiled, but definitely cooked)
Shredded chicken or pork