I grew up in a Northeastern Pennsylvania area about ten or so miles of where the self-proclaimed pizza capital of the world resides.
Population: around 8,524.
Land area: 3.45 square miles.
Ancestries: Italian (42.3%), Polish (26.2%), Irish (15.4%), German (9.1%), Welsh (5.8%), Russian (5.6%).
Although we have many great pizza places in the surrounding areas, “Old Forge” pizza is revered like a penny used to be. I saw the new show Food Wars advertise, and thought an Old Forge pizza challenge would be perfect for it. Everyone has their favorite, and thinks their favorite should be your favorite. Three of my favorites have always been Revello’s (add a salad with pizza cheese and creamy Italian+ small pitcher of birch beer= heaven), Ghigiarelli’s, and Salerno’s. Except for when I want the best white, then I go to Vince’s.
Old Forge pizza is rectangular in shape. You order by tray, half-tray, or by the slice. Red, white, and broccoli are my favorites. Ooh, and meatball from Salerno’s. Their meatballs are the best. Then you put them on pizza, and well… Broccoli is a stuffed white pizza. Yum.
After moving to Seattle ten years ago, Old Forge pizza is one of the food-things I miss most from home. So much so, my mother, unprompted mind you, packed a par-baked tray of Revello’s in her suitcase that traveled for 6 1/2 hours on a plane, and then to my smiling face and appreciative belly, on one of her visit’s to Seattle.
Best- mom- ever.
People who don’t enjoy Old Forge pizza usually compare it to New York-style pizza, which is like comparing Cary Grant to Jimmy Stewart. They are both great actors, but everyone always has a preference.
Then there are people with no taste.
Alright, that may be a bit harsh. Maybe they just went on an off day. Do you see what Old Forge pizza can do to a person? I went into mother bear mode for a moment. It is really more than just pizza. It’s family, tradition, the place you take “outsiders,” special occasions, and cheese that sticks to the roof of your mouth oh so well.
These wonderful little pizzettas have no resemblance to Old Forge pizza, because, well you cannot duplicate Old Forge pizza at home. So the next best thing is to find the next best pizza, and I think I have done it.
I know it may sound strange, but sometimes after cooking a wonderful meal, I just don’t enjoy it as much as whomever I am eating it with. It tastes good, just not great. Or, it may be great, but maybe like music: a musician enjoys making music, be it for themselves or someone else, but only the musician can enjoy his music in his own way, while millions of people can enjoy his music in countless ways. But this recipe is not one of those:
I enjoyed it.
I was in awe of it.
I was proud of it.
Hope you enjoy.
makes 8 6-7 inch rounds
adapted from The River Run Cookbook
1 cup warm water (*105-*115)
1 Tbls. honey
1 1/4 packet active dry yeast
3 cups bread flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tbls. oil (olive or vegetable)
Pre-heat oven as high as it will go. Mine is *550. I used my broiler pan turned upside down because I do not have a pizza stone. But you can use any heavy duty pan upside down. Put your pizza pan choice in the oven to pre-heat.
In a small bowl, mix the honey and water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let sit for 5-10 minutes, or until it starts to bubble.
In a separate large bowl mix flour and salt. Add the yeast mixture and olive oil. Mix well with your hands, kneading the dough in bowl until all ingredients come together. Cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for about two hours, until doubled in size.
While dough is rising…
1 28o can crushed tomato in puree (I use Di Napoli brand)
Scant 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. marjoram
Scant 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1/4 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tbls. sugar
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 tbls. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
2 large cloves garlic, minced finely
2 1/2 tbls. finely chopped onion
In a medium saucepan, saute onion until soft in 1 tbls. of butter. Add garlic, and another 1/2 tbls. of butter, and saute for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and all other ingredients. Simmer on medium-low heat for about 1 hour. Turn down to low if bubbling too much. Let sauce cool while dough is finishing its rise.
When dough has risen, knead a little in the bowl, then pinch off a piece of dough, and form into a ball a little bigger than a golf ball. Work into a circle with your hands, and then roll out into a 6 or 7 inch circle.
Dough can be cooked through first stage, and topped the next day.
Put in oven until desired crispness. Don’t forget, pizzettas will brown more when topping are added and cheese is melted, undercook a little.
Jim and I watched these bubble like two little kids getting a double scoop. They are almost like pita, so versatile. If they puff up don’t worry, you can squeeze them flat.
Sauce accordingly. More sauce equals less crispy pizza. I like mine to bite back. Crunchy, a little blackened. Jim likes his a little chewy. Another reason I love this recipe: you can control the dough to your liking.
For cheese I chose white American and provolone.
Toppings included onion for Jim, Speck (my new favorite, affordable prosciutto substitute), and potato sausage. Feel free to choose your own. I sprinkled chopped parsley and ripped fresh basil on after the pizzettas were out of the oven.