Wednesday, October 27, 2010

How to Make Homemade Pizza, Part 3: The Toppings

The first two parts of this series can be found here (dough) and here (sauce).

The key to pizza toppings is not what you put on, but how you put it on. In general, I put down dough, sauce, cheese and then the toppings go on top of the cheese.  Maybe this makes sense to you, but for years, I put the toppings on top of the sauce and the cheese on top of the toppings. My husband, however, set me straight. I have found, however, that chicken does better underneath the cheese (it dries out if it's on top). On top of the cheese you can sprinkle some Italian seasonings or a touch of olive oil.

Pizza isn't pizza without cheese. I can think of pizzas without sauce and pizzas without toppings, but I can't think of a pizza without cheese. I used to only put mozzarella cheese on my pizzas until one day when I was short on mozzarella. I filled in with some cheddar and Parmesan and they added whole new depth of flavor to our pie. Now I use a combination of all three or I throw on whatever I have on hand. But I always use a little mozzarella as a base and then add to that.

If, like me, you buy cheese in bulk, keep it in the freezer. Cheese loses its moisture as it ages and dry cheese does not get you a nice, gooey, stringy, cheesy topping.  I try to remember to pull the cheese out of the freezer before I need it, but you can toss it on the pizza frozen.

As far as toppings for the pizza, the sky is the limit!  Around here the favorite with the kiddos is good old pepperoni. I buy the large slices of all natural pepperoni at Whole Foods. My husband likes meat and lots of it on his pizza. Being from New York, his favorite is meatball. I take homemade meatballs and slice them thin. I have to admit -- it's delicious!  One of my all time favorite pizzas is tomato, feta cheese and banana peppers. Really, it's delicious and it was the favorite in my sorority house in college. I will often rifle through the fridge and throw whatever leftovers I can find on the pizza. We haven't found a bad combination yet (although, I'm sure they exist!).

What is your favorite pizza topping? Do you have any "weird" combinations that you love?

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