Lets start off by saying that this is not fast food. It is slow. It takes planning.
But my family pretty much told me last night that I had better write this one down, it was a keeper. “The best I have ever made” one said! But homemade pizza does take some work. It helps if you have helpers. Often I make everyone ‘build’ their own. But it does not always go smoothly this way. It can be messy, with people pushing aside and grabbing for toppings and waiting around to get their pizza in the oven. But I had a very competent helper this time around, so we just took care of it. No ‘pick-your-parts’, just good pizza to share.
I got the idea for this pizza from the pear and Gorgonzola pizza at CPK (California Pizza Kitchen), but with my own twist on things.
It started because I had pizza dough in the fridge with no place to go. I put it together on Friday, thinking we might be having pizza Saturday night. Well, we did have pizza Saturday night, but we picked it up from St. Georges because it was almost 90 degrees outside and I am not about to put the oven on crazy hot in that heat!
So here I was with an aging, tasty wonderful dough sitting in the fridge, just waiting to be born into pizza. I had no choice.
I decided while I was at it to make some ranch dressing from scratch. And I waited until I was in the thick of things to think of it. But I have made it often enough it wasn’t so that it didn’t take but a tic to make. If you have jarred, it will work, but not be quiet as good.
Good pizza needs high heat. Home ovens cannot get as hot as commercial ones, but having a baking stone is a plus. The stone gets all hot, almost like a bakery oven, and when you put the pizza on the stone, it gives the yeast a blast of heat that pushes it into a frenzy of last chance activity resulting in a nice chewy crust. What can I say? Its magic. If you do not have a stone, use a pizza pan or if all else fails, a cookie sheet.
The recipe is below, but here is a “the low down”.
Caramelized onions. Caramelized pears. Mozzarella cheese. Garlic and olive oil.
Bake in a good hot oven.
Top with some ranch, some chopped toasted walnuts some Gorgonzola crumbles and some slivers of prosciutto.
Sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Sounds easy, huh? Well, it helps if you have a friend over that used to work in a pizza parlor to make the crust all pretty and to help with the toppings.
You will need the dough, preferably made ahead of time. Some parchment for each pizza is nice. And a pizza peel. You need that or something else to transfer a loaded pizza to the hot oven. Lets say you do not have a peel. You would use the back side of a cookie sheet. Usually I shape the dough, put it on a parchment, top it and the whole thing can slide onto a pizza peel. It can slide onto the cookie sheet too. Without parchment, you should top the shaped pizza dough right on the cookie sheet, using flour on the sheet to keep it from sticking and allowing it to slide off into the oven. I am sure you can improvise something.
Heat your oven to 500 degrees. This may be as hot as your oven gets. You need to keep an eye on this pizza in an oven that hot. It does not take long to cook, or to burn. If you are using a baking stone, put that in first so it has plenty of time to heat up.
Pizza with caramelized onions, pears and Gorgonzola
- Yield: 2 12
The best pizza that ever came out of my oven.
- 1 ball pizza dough your choice
- 1 large onion sliced thin
- 2 pears sliced thin
- 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 3 garlc cloves
- 1 1/2 cups Mozzarella grated, more if needed.
- 1/3 cup Gorgonzola crumbles
- 1/4 cup walnuts toasted and chopped
- some Proscutto optional
- Make your dough (if you are not buying premade) at least the day before if possible. Put in the fridge until about 2 hours before needing it.
- Using olive oil or 2 Tablespoons of butter in a hot skillet, saute the onion slices. You can add a pinch of sugar if you want, but either way, turn heat down and saute for about 15 minutes, until golden brown and soft. Scoop out into a paper towel lined plate or bowl.
- Slice the pears this way: Cut in half and then quarters. Take off the stem if it has one. Now holding each section upright, cut out the core. Now cut each section into thin slices, about 1/8″ thick. Don’t worry about peeling it.
- In the same skillet as the onions, add 1 Tbsp. of butter and the pears. Saute these on medium heat for about 6 minutes, until soft but not browned. Set aside in a bowl or plate.
- Have everything assembled. Some olive oil, grated mozzarella, garlic and veggies. You will need a pizza peel or the back side of a baking sheet. A parchment paper to put the pizza on is helpful. Once formed, put the dough on the paper, then you can slide the paper onto a pizza peel to put in the oven.
- Take a ball of dough, about 1-1 1/2 pounds. Form it into a ball. Now on a floured board or mat, start pressing the dough out into a circle. Using your fingers, press it out and out. If it starts resisting, let it rest a few minutes, then go back to it. Stretch and tug until it is about the size of your baking stone. Mine is round, so I make sure it is not more than 12″ round. It helped to have a young lady visiting that used to work in a pizza shop. She was in charge of shaping the lovely crust. If you have a rectangular stone, make a rectangular pizza, etc.
- Before topping it, I lay the crust on the parchment. You don’t need any flour on it. Just the paper. Lay it on the paper when it is fully shaped.
- Now, brush some olive oil on the dough. You can press some garlic right on the dough, or you can infuse it in some olive oil ahead of time. I didn’t think of it on time and just added it to the crust.
- Over that put some mozzarella, just a smattering. Then using your fingers, lay some caramelized onions over the whole pizza. Then caramelized pears over that and top it all with more Mozzarella.
- Have a baking stone in a hot preheated oven set to 500 degrees or as close to it as you can. You might want to rip away some of the extra parchment around the pizza in case it gets too hot and crisps up.
- Bake for about 8 minutes, then check it. If one side is getting darker than the other, turn it around. Otherwise, let it bake until golden brown with a good finished crust. About 10 minutes. Watch carefully though, things cook fast in this hot an oven.
- Using the pizza peel take out when done and put on a cutting board. But before cutting into slices, sprinkle with walnuts and Gorgonzola crumbles. If using, sliver the prosciutto and set atop the pizza too. Then drizzle it all with some ranch dressing.
- Ohh and ahh at it. Take a picture. Then, burning your fingers and maybe your tongue, dig in and enjoy.