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Posted: January 13, 2012

There’s a football game on? We’re here for the pizza

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By DEBORAH GEERING

Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Watchers do not want to be disturbed and basically aren’t any fun. The Talkers, well, we’re there to catch up with friends and eat. If there’s a football game on in the background, so be it.

The Talkers’ natural habitat is in the kitchen — where we’re closest to the food. If you’re playing host this Super Bowl Sunday, why not harness all that energy and put us to work? You know you’re going to serve pizza (the National Restaurant Association says about 58 percent of the takeout and delivery orders made on Super Bowl Sunday include pizza), so your game plan is obvious: Move a few extra chairs into your living room around the TV, and then have a pizza-making party in the kitchen. That will keep us Talkers out of the way of the Watchers — plus we get first dibs on anything that comes out of the oven.

THE PIZZAS

Cuban Sandwich Pizza: Mojo Sauce, grated Swiss cheese, ham, Slow-Cooked Cuban Pork, Genoa salami, thinly sliced dill pickles, mustard

Gulf Shrimp Pizza: Pesto, grated Asiago cheese, drained and sliced roasted red peppers, frozen cocktail shrimp (you can put them on the pizza still frozen if they’re precooked), pine nuts

Buffalo Chicken Pizza: Nance’s Chicken Wing Sauce (or pizza sauce), grated mozzarella cheese, sliced roasted chicken, sliced red onions, crumbled blue cheese

Black Olive and Market Tomato Pizza: Sliced fresh mozzarella, basil puree, olive-tomato mixture, fresh arugula, shaved Parmesan cheese

Brownie Dessert Pizza

• Doughs: Herbed | Market

Here are a couple of little secrets: One of the reasons the pizza restaurants do so well on Super Bowl Sunday is that pizzas are easy (and inexpensive) to make. Another reason is that they taste good.

A good pizza starts with a good crust, so we’ve included a couple of reliable recipes here. Pizza dough — risen, punched down and shaped into ready-to-roll balls — stores well in the refrigerator or freezer, so you can always keep some on hand for a quick dinner.

When it comes to toppings, the sky’s the limit. Use your imagination. Cheeses, veggies, meats, even sliced fruits, dried fruit and nuts — pretty much anything that’s good on a salad or a sandwich is going to be good on a pizza. But whatever you choose, try to use a light hand with the quantity of toppings. Pizzas cook better when they’re not overloaded.

 

Pizza party game plan

Several hours or the day before:

Make your dough. Allow about one-half pizza for each guest. Let the dough rise, then divide it into pizza-size balls and cover in plastic wrap. You can store it at room temperature or in the fridge.

Prep your ingredients. Precook sausage, slice onions, pit olives, chop tomatoes, grate cheese — have everything you need ready to go.

Make suggestions. Create a sign with ingredient combinations to get everyone started (Spicy Hawaiian: ham, pineapple and jalapeno; Will Ferrell Elfan: jelly beans, candy corn and maple syrup). See our recipes, page F6, for more ideas.

Borrow extra cookie sheets or pizza pans. That way, the assembly line won’t get held up as you wait for a pan to come out of the oven.

• Make the Brownie Party Pizza in a foil pizza pan and set it aside for dessert.

Two hours before:

• Put all the prepared ingredients into bowls. Hang your pizza suggestion sign in a prominent place. Let your pizza dough come to room temperature.

• Make a big salad using some of your pizza ingredients as toppings. Cover it and set it aside.

• Clear a kitchen counter or butcher block for your Rolling Station. Set a bowl of flour and your rolling pin nearby.

An hour before:

Start rolling. Roll out each piece of dough into a circle (or near circle) and transfer to cookie sheets or pizza pans (if you plan to cook on a pizza stone, flat cookie sheets are easier to work with). To transfer the rolled-out dough, gently roll it around the rolling pin, lift and then unroll into place..

 

 

 

Pizza-making tips

Perfection isn’t necessary. There is no such thing as a bad pizza. So don’t stress if your crusts aren’t perfectly round.

Don’t let your dough go naked. Brush it lightly with olive oil and cover it loosely with plastic wrap.

Less is more. A pizza overloaded with sauce, cheese or other ingredients won’t cook properly, and you’ll end up with a gooey mess. A few tablespoons of sauce, spread thinly with the back of a spoon, is all you’ll need. Apply toppings with a light hand.

Pizzas like it hot. Crank up your oven to 500 degrees, or as close as you can get to that. Assemble the pizzas on a baking sheet or pizza pan and cook them in a very hot oven.

 

When the dough’s a no-go …

If you don’t have the time — or inclination — to make your own dough, choose one of these options.

• Refrigerated or frozen ready-made dough, such as the kind sold at Trader Joe’s.

• Pillsbury Refrigerated Pizza Crust (in the refrigerator section at grocery stores).

• Martha White Pizza Crust (in the baking section at grocery stores).

• Ready-made pizza crusts or Boboli.

• Pita, nan or other flatbread.

• French bread, split lengthwise.


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