Speaking from vast experience, making pizza at home that can even compete with really bad pizza, like Blackjack, is deceptively difficult. I have tried so many variations and techniques.
Beginning with store-bought Boboli crusts and jars of hella-gross Contadina “pizza sauce,” I really thought I was doing it up, gourmet-style. This was when I was 18, freshly implanted in the college scene, and excited to be all the homemaker I could be, or so it would seem. What actually came out of the oven was nothing short of a mess. It was wet, there were too many toppings (as I had mistakenly determined that mo’ toppings = mo’ betta), and it tasted like saltines and ketchup. Horrendous. I will say that a Boboli crust with butter and garlic salt is awesome garlic bread, though, when you’re drunk and your phone is either dropped in the pool or turned off due to lack of proper bill-paying technique (namely “on time”).
Once my culinary skills bypassed “nonexistant,” I tried doing it on the grill at home. This turned out much better, but still tasted like a grilled food and nothing like the gooey, chewy pizza that you crave when you really just want the delivery man to come to your house and tell you that everything, belly-wise, is going to be juuuuust fine. This is actually a much more realistic fantasy for me than those cliched ones where the plumber comes to your house and tells you that he has to clean your pipes, bow chikka wowwow.
I’ve even tried the option wherein you go to Whole Foods and ask the nice pizza man at the brick oven if he can please give you some dough, batting your eyelashes furiously until he caves, believing you are a total goddess of male manipulation, and then finding out that they have a pre-set barcode for this exact product and Tubby McTubberson behind you could get the exact same thing as you just did, except she’s less likely to cook it before she eats it…not that I am bitter. But that pizza, created at home, STILL turned out inconsistently. And I still put too many toppings on it, as I’m still turned on by the novelty of being able to pick and choose exactly what I want to put on it.
I was playing on the King Arthur flour site the other day, though, and ordering various flours and mixes to experiment with, and I saw a type of flour that claimed to be the perfect blend for pizza. I made up a half-batch at home, just enough for two personal pizzas, and cut up the ingredients. I rolled out the dough into shapes of reasonable thickness and roundish shape, and Chris and I each decorated our own. After tasting the leftover canned pasta sauce from the fridge, leftover from dipping arancini, I decided that was NOT what I wanted. I pulled some leaves off our basil plant, put them in the blender with some kosher salt and a can of diced tomatoes and onions, and blended for 15 seconds. It was AWESOME. Like a slightly sweeter, fresher version of that sauce you get on the pizza at the mall. So good.
So I poured an awful lot of that on my round (some of us never learn) and then topped it with a sauteed mix of mushrooms, shallots, artichokes, garlic, pancetta, and black olives, threw on a light sprinkle of shredded mozzarella and pecorino, and baked it off. Chris did pepperoni, jalapeno, and olives. He used half homemade sauce, and kindly used up the last of the jar stuff. The resulting pizzas were friggin’ fantastic, although I think we can both agree mine was better because I am awesome.
I used fewer toppings, chopped them smaller, tried that simple sauce, and baked them on some pizza screens that I got from the restaurant supply store near us (which I had to travel through the straight-up GHETTO to reach). The screens really helped crisp up the bottom, and left the interior chewy and crusty. Exciting development, no?