" Now and Then" Through Thick and Thin Crust Pizza

There's nothing better for a night with old friends than sharing a big pizza pie. And when it's homemade, it's truly from the heart! (Boy, that last line was almost as cheesy as this pizza...)

You will need:

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup yellow corn meal
  • 1 cup lukewarm water
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3 lbs. ripe Roma tomatoes, or one 28 oz. can Italian tomatoes, well drained
  • 3/4 lb. fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 lb. grated provolone cheese
  • 1 small handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
  • 1 copy "To Kill a Mockingbird"
  • 1 training bra (2 cups)

      Directions:

      1. Combine the yeast, honey, corn meal, and half of the water. Whisk together and set aside in a warm spot until the mixture begins to foam, about 20 minutes.

      2. Add the remaining water, salt, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, and one cup of the flour; mix well with a wooden spoon. Add and mix in another cup of flour and transfer the mixture to a floured work surface. Gradually knead in another half cup of flour to create a soft, elastic dough.

      3. Continue kneading 8 to 10 minutes, adding only as much flour as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Remember, the more moist the dough, the crispier the crust.

      4. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl (use olive oil). Cover the bowl with a towel or plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free location until the dough has doubled in size (about 45 minutes to an hour).

      5. Slice tomatoes lengthwise and squeeze out as much juice as possible. Cut each half into thin strips; saute in 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat for 5 minutes; add the tomato paste and continue cooking 5 more minutes. Remove from heat and set aside. (If using canned tomatoes, make certain to squeeze out excess juice before sauteing.)

      6. Preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Whether using a pizza stone, ceramic tile, or baking sheet, make sure that it is placed in the oven while preheating. Toss the grated mozzarella with the remaining olive oil and set aside.

      7. Punch down the dough, form into a ball, and flatten on a floured surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out until the dough is anywhere from 10 to 14 inches in diameter. A smaller diameter will produce a thicker, more bread-like crust; a larger diameter will yield a thinner, more crispy crust.

      8. Transfer the dough onto a pizza paddle sprinkled generously with corn meal. Spread the tomato mixture evenly across the top of the pizza; slide into the hot oven and bake for 10 minutes.

      9. Remove the pizza from the oven just long enough to top with the mozzarella, Parmesan, and provolone then return to the oven and bake another 10 minutes. Garnish with fresh basil and serve at once.

      10. After dinner, make a pact with your guests that if any of you ever needs help with the dishes, everyone pitches in ... starting right now.

      Makes 1 large pizza



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