Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Pizza Intuition

We've been on a pizza kick. Are we on a quest for the perfect pie? Is the impending close of tomato season driving our marinara consumption? Or perhaps it's how a 450-degree oven can heat the entire house on these damp, chilly nights. Whatever the reason, we found ourselves again rolling out pizza dough, slicing whole milk mozzarella into thin strips, and this time, browning Molinari Italian sausage.

John doesn't cook on his own, but has a knack for certain things--like knowing when to stop stirring risotto, determining whether the corn chowder needs more salt, and how to assemble a pizza properly. I don't know where this innate sense comes from, as his years of bachelorhood were marked (marred?) not by cuisine but by chow. This is a man who is greeted by name at Starbucks and gets special treatment at certain burrito joints.

So we've decided that I will knead flour, water and yeast into a dough; roast and puree tomatoes into sauce; and do the other prep work. Then I step aside and let him make our savory dinner.

John pats, stretches and shapes the elastic dough into a rough 12" circle, then gently transfers it to a wooden paddle sprinkled with cornmeal. Working quickly, he ladles on tomato sauce and spreads it evenly to the perimeter before adding the cheese, tearing the mozzarella into smaller pieces if he has to. Finally, he crumbles browned spicy sausage over the top. With the flick of his wrist, he deftly slides his creation onto the hot baking stone.

Ten minutes later, we are happily biting into hot slices of sausage pizza and washing it down with 2000 Mt. Veeder Napa Zinfandel, nicely peppery and big with fruit. I raise my glass to toast my budding pizzaiolo and his way with pie.

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