One of the things we love to do is have fresh pizza once a week, usually on a Friday night. And it’s so easy to make from scratch. You can bake it in the oven on a pizza stone or the back of an upside-down sheet pan. Or, on a nice day, you can take it to the grill and give it a nice char.
We Charlotteans are the luckiest citizens to have Johnson & Wales University in our hometown. This is where Peter Reinhart, King-of-All-Things-Bread, teaches full-time at their International Baking and Pastry Institute. If you’ve been to Pie Town uptown, you’ve tasted some of Reinhart’s artisan pizza crust mastery. The best part is that Reinhart also writes cookbooks, and he likes to write about pizza dough.
So, if you’re looking to make a fresh pizza with local flair and a truly excellent crust, pick up a copy of American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza at your local independent bookstore and make his Neo-Neapolitan crust recipe. Or, you can preview this recipe as posted on The Fresh Loaf Blog. It’s by far the best single-day-rise dough recipe we’ve tried.
And top that dough with whatever you can find locally at the farmer’s markets, in your garden or from your CSA. You can often find cheese at the farmer’s markets. Or, pay a visit to Pasta & Provisions on Providence Road in Myers Park for their fresh mozzarella.
Recipe: Charlotte Fresh’s “Taste of the Queen City” Pizza
- 1/4 Neo-Neapolitan crust recipe (or 1 dough ball)
- 1 Tbs corn meal
- 2 Tbs olive oil
- 1/3 to 1/2 C tomato sauce – try Fisher Farms
- salt, pepper, hot pepper flakes, basil, oregano – or any locally grown herbs you might find
- 1/4 lb. cooked, sliced bratwurst – try Grateful Growers, Windy Hill Farms or What’s Your Beef
- Handful of arugula – we used our CSA’s, but you can try any local producer
- 1 thinly sliced tomato, slices patted dry – yes, there are greenhouse ones at Matthews Farmer’s Market available
- 1 oz. goat cheese – try Bosky Acres chevre
- 1 large mozzarella ball – try Pasta & Provisions
- olives – optional (sorry, I like them, but get them at Earth Fare)
This dough recipe is very sticky. You will need to be liberal with extra flour as you work with it. Add flour to your working surface and the dough ball, working it in until it doesn’t stick. Carefully stretch or roll dough ball into a 10-inch wide circle, crimping the edges.
Pour corn meal on pizza peel and distribute all over. Place dough on top and shake to make sure it moves. Brush dough with olive oil. Spread thin layer of tomato sauce. Season with salt, pepper and herbs to taste. Add remaining toppings, with cheeses going on last.
Bake in 450-500 degree oven, on pizza stone for 7-8 minutes, or until crust is lightly brown and cheese is bubbly.
Note: it is best to preheat the oven for at least 45 minutes to 1 hour with the stone in it.