Monday Night Football
From September thru February, my sundays, monday nights and an occasional Thursday night have become somewhat ritualistic. Of course I am talking about Football–I dare to say its America’s favorite non-official past time. In fact, I feel a sort of depression come over me in February after the Superbowl (even though my team will not be going this year–again!).
Football season is more than just the game. It’s an entire season of tailgating, fantasy leagues and lazy afternoons on the couch. In short–its a season of pure happiness : ) And what could be more apprope for Monday Night Football than a fresh, homemade pizza and an ice cold beer?? I know, I know. You couldn’t agree with me more.
So here we have a versatile recipe for a home made pizza dough you can make at home in a matter of minutes. In fact, you can even make the dough a day ahead and let it rise in the refrigerator–to allow you more time go beer shopping! And when it comes to pizza, the sky is the limit for the toppings. Here I have made a BBQ chicken pizza (trust me its delicious!!) but top it with anything you like. Just remember this simple equation:
hot pizza+ cold beer = Monday Night Football
Now I have to run. I’ve got a date with a fantasy football coach ; )
1 envelope active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (110F)
generous pinch of sugar
1/3 cup olive oil
3T whole wheat flour
1/4 cup semolina or fine cornmeal
2 1/2-3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt
additional cornmeal for dusting
Toppings of your choice
1 Monday Night
6-pack of your favorite beer (or more to taste)
In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water and yeast. Whisk well to dissolve. Add the sugar and allow to stand for about 5 minutes until mixture starts to look foamy. Add olive oil, and then all dry ingredients. Mix with a dough hook until the dough is smooth and shiny, adjusting with more flour if necessary (alternately, if you think your dough is too stiff, add a little water), about 5-6 minutes. The dough can also be mixed by hand–knead on a lightly floured counter or board until smooth and shiny, about 8-10 minutes. The final dough will be moist, but not sticky. Grease a medium bowl and gather the dough into a ball. Place dough in the bowl and turn the dough over to grease the top. Cover and let rise until double in size. (***You can place in the refrigerator at this point to rise overnight. Allow the dough to rest at room temperature for about 30 minutes before proceeding).
Preheat oven to 500F. If you have a pizza stone, preheat it in the oven. If you don’t have one, you can simply bake the pizza on a cookie sheet dusted with cornmeal. Once the dough has doubled, divide it into an even number of pieces (I make three 12 inch pizzas).
Roll the dough into a very thin circle (keep in mind it will rise in the oven so you don’t want it to be too thick) on a lightly floured surface. If you have a pizza peel, dust it with cornmeal. If you don’t have a peel, you can invert another cookie sheet cookie sheet and dust it with cornmeal. Place the pizza dough onto the peel or cookie sheet and top with your favorite toppings
Full disclosure: I buy a rotisserie chicken and shred the meat. I use a delicious BBQ sauce in place of the tomato sauce. Then top it with thin sliced onion, mushrooms, spinach and shredded cheddar cheese. Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. This fast, shortcut version allows maximum time for enjoying the game
If you are baking on the cookie sheet you built your pizza on, simply bake it in the oven for about 7-8 minutes until bubble and golden brown. If you have a pizza stone and a peel or inverted cookie sheet, be sure your pizza is not sticking. I usually run a thin knife or offset spatula underneath to be sure I can transfer the whole pie in one piece. With a quick, ninja-like move, thrust the pizza into the oven onto the hot baking surface. bake for about 6-7 minutes until golden brown and bubbly. Enjoy with beer, football and good friends.
Tips from A Cook:
Have a grill? These make tasty grilled pizzas too! You probably want to make them a bit smaller for easier handling on the grill
Have fun with your toppings! Some other favorites: Buffalo chicken pizza, pesto and vegetable pizza and prosciutto, mozzarella and fig.
Make the dough a day ahead!! Allow the dough to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes to take off the chill, then proceed to make pizza
Relax!! It’s just baking!