They say good pizza can only be had by visiting Italy, or at least New York City. And if you judge pizza by what's available at local restaurants you might think they are right, although I've had some subtle and fine creations at the Mellow Mushroom along the Cumberland Avenue strip in Knoxville. But, then, that's not local.
I say pizza is what you make it and the best pizza is the pizza you make.
My friend, Carol Skowronek, gave me a recipe for pizza that suits me just right. I doubt many Italian restaurants are using this particular list of ingredients, but you can be sure of this - this recipe uses all the love that the best pizza makers put into their pizza.
Procedure for best pizza, exactly as I understand it:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. A hot oven is essential to all pizza making.
Pour yourself a glass of wine, or open a beer or make a refreshing non-alcoholic treat drink. Kick off shoes and pull down your favorite playlist from iTunes and blast it over the speakers so that the kitchen is filled with music. Be willing to dance with the Michael Jackson songs and grab the nearest passerby to join you. If no one is home, dance with the dog.
Prepare your toppings. This always takes the longest for me which is why I do it first. Slowly saute an 8 oz. package of sliced mushrooms until they are a rich brown. At the last minute deglaze the pan with a splash of wine. When it's almost deglazed, add some garlic. Slide the mushrooms onto a plate and using same pan, add a bit of oil, and lightly brown some onions. After 2-3 minutes, slide these onto a plate. Using same pan, add a bit of oil and lightly saute some sort of thinly sliced peppers. As you can see, I like to separate my pizza ingredients.
Now, on a good night I would make the pizza sauce myself, but Publix carries a great sauce in a can called Dei Fratelli Pizza Sauce. Use only half the can and save the rest for the next pizza.
Pull Pillsbury Refrigerated Thin Crust Pizza dough from fridge. Spray 14"X16" or similar large flat pan with cooking spray and spread out pizza dough all the way to edges.
Mix 2 T. olive oil with 1 t. Italian seasonings and brush this over the pizza dough. Place pan in hot oven and cook for 7 minutes.
Pull par-cooked crust from oven and spoon thin layer of pizza sauce over dough; add mozzarella cheese, then your toppings. Return to oven for 13 minutes.
Let it cool on counter for 5 minutes.
Above is just my own favorite concoction of ingredients. When my sons are home, I add pepperoni. You can use whatever you like. The main thing is to use toppings you love and to eat this pizza with family or friends. If you live alone, at least call someone and talk to them on the phone while you are eating, so they can hear the love.