I recently wrote an article about how to make pizza dough at home as more and more people are trying to find ways to cut costs on their grocery bills. Around my area you can buy pizza from the chains like Pizza Hut and Dominos fairly cheap but in order to get good pizza from an Italian place you are looking at probably $9-12 a pie. If you have to feed a family like I do that would be at least a $20 evening just for pizza. So, I decided to embark on trying to find a pizza that I could make at home that was every bit as good as the good Italian restaurants. However, what I found out about the ingredients may surprise you.
Through my research online I found out that making a pizza that tastes and resembles those found in Italy and good American pizza shops really comes down to finding the right ingredients. Mainly it’s the dough that can make or break your pizza as tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese that are good quality are a little more easy to find at specialty stores. The flour to make a good pizza dough however is not that easy to find. I was able to determine that pizza shops normally make their dough using either a special high gluten flour not normally found in stores or speciality flour that is milled directly in Italy and sold in the states through food distributors, bakery supply stores and sometimes local Italian stores. Believe it or not, the Italian made flour (Cuputo ’00’) was the easiest to locate in small quantities as my local Italian store just so happened to carry 2.2lb bags for under $3.00. The High Gluten flour made by companies like General Mills and King Arthur Flour were much tougher to locate in small quantities as they only came in 50 pound bags and were sold by food distributors who don’t normally sell to the public. In my search I did find a small store about an hours drive from me that sold hard to find items and actually repackaged the flour in smaller 5lb bags to the public. Outside of that store the High Gluten flour has been very difficult to locate so take the time to search local stores, food distributors and baker supply stores and you may just get lucky.
When it comes to the tomatoes I learned that some of the better pizza sauces are made from San Marzano tomatoes that are grown in Italy near Mt Vesuvius. These tomatoes are grown at the base of the mountain and apparently the volcanic soil makes the perfect environment for what many consider the best tomatoes in the world. Luckily I was able to find canned whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes in my local grocery store and also at the Italian grocery store so they were not difficult to find. The sauce was easy to make too. I simply opened a 28oz can of the tomatoes, took the tomatoes out and placed them into a bowl and then crushed them using a potato masher. I then added some salt, pepper and oregano and had the most excellent pizza sauce you could think of. The 28oz cans were about $3-5 depending on the brand so they were fairly inexpensive considering they were imported from Italy.
Regarding the mozzarella cheese, I’m still researching the best method for pizza cheese. All the pros say that a good blend of mozzarella cheese and provolone cheese is the most widely used for a plain New York style Neapolitan pizza. Because cheese is so widely available in our area (from local grocery stores and farms) I think I’ll continue to experiment until I find the right mix.
So there you have it. The secret to good pizza is out and I hope you take the time to research your local market to locate the best pizza ingredients your locale has to offer. The bottom line is that I can make a very good Neapolitan pizza for around $3-4 as opposed to the $9-12 I’m spending at the best pizza place in town. If you eat pizza as much as my family you will save quite a bit of money over time and have fun in the process. So get out there and start making your own pizzas, have fun and save some money in the process!