I grew up eating homemade pizza and pizza from very good local pizzerias. Both were excellent, though completely different from one another- one being the American version of pepperoni pizzas and the other being my grandmother’s version of the traditional Sicilian style pizza made from scratch and made like no other pizza in town.
My grandmother made pizza on the same days she made homemade Italian bread. Her pizzas were huge and square and when finished, she cut them into pizzas for us with scissors.
We basically thought there were two kinds of pizzas coming out of the oven- one plain and one pepperoni, only to discover at times that she would hide pieces of anchovy under the cheese so that us kids would actually become accustomed to its taste, and hopefully someday really like it that way. And, I do.
I never actually got the exact recipe from my grandmother. When I tried, it was a bit of a guessing game. Between her Sicilian dialect which is an offshoot of the Italian language that I do somewhat understand and the fact that she really never documented the recipe, it’s hard to get exact measurements from her.
So, I researched and experimented and in the end found my perfect pizza dough recipe, which I’m certain of by it’s texture before it’s cooked, how it smells as its cooking and of course what it tastes like in the end.
If you want to try it, too, the recipe follows. You can also make it in a rounded dish, but temperature and cooking time may vary so keep an eye on the crust.
As far as finding halal pepperoni, check out some great products by Whole Earth Meats which is all organic and free of nitrites and a great-tasting one produced by Midamar Halal. You can also find sejouk at most Middle Eastern, Mediteranean and/or halal meat markets.
Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe for both the dough and the sauce as well as the pizza toppings shown in the photos.
One medium sauté pan
One medium saucepan
Stand mixer with dough hook
1-2 cups fresh or shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup sliced Sejouk (spicy Turkish sausage which is a great substitute for pepperoni) or halal beef pepperoni
Pizza Sauce Ingredients
Yields 2 cups
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ cups green peppers, diced (approximately one large pepper)
½ cup yellow onion, diced (approximately one small onion)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 garlic cloves)
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley
2 eight-ounce cans tomato sauce (no salt-added)
1 tablespoon fresh or frozen basil (2 leaves)
In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat until warm.
Add the pepper and sauté for about 1 minute, or until slightly softened.
Add the onion and stir to blend with the peppers and soften, about 1 minute more.
Add the garlic, salt and parsley.
Reduce heat to low and cook for 10 minutes.
In a medium saucepan over low heat, add the canned tomatoes and basil. Remove the mixture from the sauté pan into this saucepan. Reduce heat to low. Cook for about 40 minutes, covered. Remove from heat and allow to cool before adding to uncooked dough.
Yields dough for one large pizza on a standard baking sheet
2 teaspoons active dry yeast ½ teaspoon sugar 1 cup warm water 2 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour ¼ teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Place the yeast and sugar into a large bowl you’ll use to mix your dough (preferably the stainless steel stand mixer bowl).
Add the warm water and mix to dissolve. Leave covered, for 10 minutes.
Remove the cover from the yeast mixture. Place bowl on stand mixer to prepare for kneading.
Add ½ cup of the flour, the salt and the oil to the mixture. Use the dough hook to knead the flour into the mixture. Continue to add flour to the mixture, ½ cup at a time, mixing after every addition. Knead until all flour has been completely blended.
The dough may not form into a perfect ball just by using the dough hook, so remove from the stand mixer. Add a little oil to your hands and work with the dough inside of the bowl, scraping up any flour on the sides and bottom of the bowl and begin to form a ball using your hands. Add more oil to your hands, if necessary, but only a little bit at a time.
Keep mixing and kneading with your hands until you have a ball of dough.
Keep the dough in the bowl. Cover and let rise for one hour.
Preheat the oven to 450° F just before preparing to roll out the dough.
On a floured surface, roll out the dough to fit the sheet pan. Transfer the rolled out dough to a lightly oiled pan with a little corn meal sprinkled on the bottom. This helps to give the crust bottom a bit of texture and prevent it from sticking to the pan.
Crimp the edges of the pizza all the way around. Add 1- 1/3 cup of the pizza sauce, then add the cheese and pepperoni. Bake 15 minutes, or until cheese has turned slightly brown around the edges and the crust has browned.