The perfect pizza sauce and the final pizza
Simple is best
You might be surprised to learn that traditional Napolitano pizza sauce is usually quite simple. I have tasted hundreds of tomato sauces and the simplest seems the best for our Napolitano pizza crust. Take a look at the origin of pizza.
Ingredients (for 7-8 11 inch pizzas):
- 2- 28 oz cans diced plum tomatoes – I recommend San Marzano plum tomatoes from Italy but they may be hard to find so you can go with other varieties.
- 4 garlic cloves finely minced – this can be placed on the pizza directly or in the sauce
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- To taste salt and pepper
- 6 tablespoons fresh basil leaves finely chopped (don’t even think about using dry) - the whole leaves can be placed on the pizza below the cheese instead. See an Italian herb garden
- 2 teaspoons sugar (add more if you prefer a sweeter sauce)
- To taste red pepper flakes
I sometimes leave out the basil and garlic and sprinkle over the sauce once the sauce is on the pizza (use whole basil leaves if you do this). Try both ways and see which you prefer. Heat the oil in a heavy pan over medium heat and then add the garlic. Allow the garlic to sizzle for about 30 seconds and then add the tomatoes. Crank the heat up to high and once the sauce starts to boil bring it back down to medium low. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Next, add the basil and sugar and cook for another two minutes. That’s it!
At this point you should prepare your grill as I suggest in an earlier article getting it heated up to about 700 degrees F with the wood (see wood burning grill).
Now we are ready to make the pizza. But before we begin let’s talk about the mozzarella cheese. In a later article, I will show you how to make your own mozzarella from scratch. But for your first pizza, I recommend buying freshly made whole milk mozzarella. You will notice a big difference in the taste if the mozzarella is fresh. Buffalo mozzarella (mozzarella di bufala) is typically used in Italy and made from the milk of a water buffalo rather than a cow. If you can find this cheese (at a reasonable price) go for it. It makes a huge difference.
Mozzarella di bufala
Shaping the dough
By now, your dough should be proofed for 4 to 8 hours and ready for shaping (see Napolitano pizza crust dough). Place the dough ball on a lightly floured surface and place 8 fingers (no thumbs) pressing along the edge farthest away from you. Move fingertips toward you pressing into the dough until you reach the other edge. Do this once again and then turn the dough 90 degrees and repeat twice this way. Your dough should be about 8 to 9 inches across.
Throwing the dough around
To get good at what follows all I can say is practice. You can place the dough on one hand and flip it between your hands gently. Then use your fists on the outside and gently spread your fists apart as you move the dough in a circle over your fists. You are aiming to get an 11 inch round flat dough with even thickness. Half the fun is learning how to shape and thin the dough.
Sauce, cheese, and oil
Place the dough on a pizza pan and add the sauce to the center. Use the back of the ladle in circular motions to spread the sauce. This would be the time to add the garlic and basil if you did not add it to the sauce. Now here is where I digress from the Napolitano pizza. Typically they will cut 2 oz slices and spread it over the pizza. I like to grate the cheese and sprinkle it over the pizza (I like mozzarella). Once the cheese is on, drizzle about 1 teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil over the pizza starting at the center and circling outward.
Cooking the pizza
Now you are cooking
Place the pizza as close to the burning wood as possible and shut the lid. When one side begins to brown twirl the pizza slightly trying not to let out too much heat. Do this until the pizza is fully cooked. Enjoy.
I added pepperoni and mushrooms to this one.
Apparently this is what the esteemed Willis was tkalin' 'bout.
Real brain power on display. Thanks for that asnwer!