Tuesday, December 14, 2010

'Slap Yo Mama' Pizza

Ok, so I don't endorse slapping your mother.  I'm an advocate of and activist for nonviolence.  It's just a saying in the American South referring to something that is soooooo good that it'll make you want to 'slap yo mama.'  I have no idea how it got started.  But it makes me laugh, because why would you want to slap the person who (where I'm from) is usually the one who cooked it?

Anyway...I digress....


I've been promising this recipe for donkey's years and so here it is.  As you'll see as you read, you'll understand why it took me a while to get it posted.

It's really easy, but there are some tips you need to know to make it the best.  These are tips that my lovely chef and partner Jim has shared with me, and while sometimes it pains me to say it, he's right most of the time when it comes to cooking issues.

So, I'm going to give you the recipe for the crust and then talk you through how to make a 'slap yo mama' pizza that'll ruin you for Dominos or Pizza Hut for the rest of your life.  Proceed if you dare....

First step: THE CRUST

This is where deciding to have pizza for dinner requires a bit of forward planning and is the only 'down-side' to it - but it's not really a down-side as:
1) it's WAY better than store-bought or delivered pizza and
2) it's WAY healthier than store-bought or delivered pizza and
3) we all know delayed gratification makes the end product all the better!

You're going to make your own crust - with yeast and everything.  Here's what you do:

1 cup warm water
1 tbsp oil
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2.75 cups flour
1 small packet of fast-acting yeast

Mix yeast and warm (not hot) water together in a small bowl and leave to work for 5 minutes.  Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl, add oil & then water/yeast mixture.  Mix together until forms a smooth dough and the sides and bottom of the bowl are clean.  Shape into a ball (you can do this in the bowl or on a floured surface on the counter) and put back in the bowl.  Cover bowl tightly with cling film.  Leave to rise for about an hour or so in a warm place (or if you want to speed up the process, you can ding it in the microwave for 10 seconds and then leave it in the microwave for 20 minutes, then ding it for another 10 seconds, and leave it for another 10-20 minutes). 


Here is where your imagination can run wild.

Whatever you like on pizza can go on top, but the trick is to cook it first and get the excess moisture out or else the water from your veggies or whatever will just seep out into your crust and make it soggy.

So, if you like veggies on your pizza (like me), then:
1) saute each one individually and then
2) put them in a colander in the sink to cool and drain the rest of the moisture from them while you're waiting for your crust to finish rising.

So, for my favorite pizza, we saute (individually) onions and garlic, fresh tomatoes (seeded and sliced), spinach, courgette/zuchinni, and mushrooms.  As we finish each batch, we put them in the colander to drain and their flavors will mingle together while they sit and wait.  If you put a little bit of salt on the veggies, that'll help draw the moisture out as well.

If you like meat on your pizza, make sure the meat is already cooked too.  If you're using parma/serrano ham (my favorite), salamis, pepperoni or other prepared meats, you don't need to do anything other than make sure it's in bite-size or slightly larger pieces.  For this pizza recipe, we use about 4-5 slices of parma or serrano ham (because it's healthier and more flavorful than some other pizza meats) ripped into about 12-15 smaller pieces.

You'll also want to prep the cheese at this time just to make it easier when it's all ready to put together.  I used to think that the more cheese, the better the pizza, but I have to say I have been converted to a new way of thinking.  Actually, too much cheese drowns out the flavors of anything else on the pizza and can also make your crust soggy, so you want to actually be kinda sparing.  For one batch of pizza (i.e., for this recipe), I would use no more than 1 ball of fresh mozzarella (cut up or torn/pressed/squeezed into thinner pieces - no need to shred it) or a small log/wheel of goat's cheese.  A couple tablespoons of finely shredded parmesan or grand padano added to these will finish it off nicely.


Your dough should have risen at least another half its size if not twice its size (if it hasn't, it's either too cold or your yeast is dead).  Once it has risen, you're ready to work it and get it ready for the oven. 

I hate a soggy crust.  So to keep this from happening, turn it out onto a floured surface and begin to stretch it into your desired pizza shape.  We usually do a long rectangle (sort of a large cookie sheet size) that sits directly on the oven rack.  However you do it, you want about 4 serving sizes out of it (they're good sized portions).  Then put your sauce on it (we just use a cheap tomato sauce/marinara, but you could also use a cheese/bechamel sauce if you like).  Then put it in a hot oven (200/475+ degrees) until the crust rises and feels like it is firmer and no longer dough-y in the middle (about 10-15 minutes).  You don't want to bake it all the way - just enough to make sure the bottom is firm so it doesn't go soggy after it's been topped.


So, this is when you put all those goodies you've prepared onto the pizza!  There's nothing you need to know about this part really.  You've already done the hard work in the prep stage.

When the pizza is topped, put it in the hot oven and bake it until the cheese has melted (since everything is already cooked) and the crust on the sides has browned to your liking.

If you like an egg on your pizza (it goes really well with spinach, mushrooms & goat's cheese), crack a raw egg into the middle of the pizza before it goes into the oven.  It'll cook in about the same time everything else does.


This is an important step, so don't rip into it as it comes out of the oven.  Finish it off nicely before you cut into it.

After it comes out of the oven, sprinkle the pizza lightly (total of about 2 teaspoons) of olive oil and with a couple pinches of finishing salt like Maldon Sea Salt crystals or something similar.  The texture of the oil and the salt just adds that little bit of oomph that makes the pizza spectacular.


Serves 4

Nutritional information per serving for pizza topped with Mozzarella, Parma Ham Zuchinni, Mushrooms, Onion & Tomato:
Calories  556; Calories from fat  155; Total Fat 17.2g (Saturated 6.1g; Trans 0.0); Cholesterol 37g; Sodium 1234mg (because of the parma ham and parmesan); Carbs 74.8g; Fiber 3.7g; Sugars 5.4g; Protein 24.4g


  1. This looks delicious and rather easy. I plan to try it soon. Thanks for sharing!

  2. i hope we make this! i just want to so we can say the name of this tasty pizza. oh, and eat it, too!

    did i tell you i made one with shaved butternut squash & rosemary. tasty.