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11/24/2014

~ Nobody's Pizza - For the Somebody in All of Us!!! ~

IMG_8280Pizza makes me happy.  I'm not alone.  It's my belief that next to watching baseball, eating pizza is America's favorite past time.  Everybody goes to the ball park and the pizza shop to have a good time.  If you're a traveler in search of the perfect slice, the one made just for you, you already know it's important to not give too much credence to personal recommendations and published "pizza shop reviews".  I've been burned way too many times paying attention to that over-rated banter.  Pizza, like toothpaste, is personal.  Some of the best pizza is the simplest, and, is found in the least likely and lesser recognized places.  This is one such story.

IMG_8293Pizza:  oven-baked flat bread topped w/tomato sauce & cheese.

XlcGrDN1iVmKM4There's a pizza joint close to Joe's hometown (Lackawanna County, PA).  The atmosphere is old-school casual with memorabilia hanging on the walls.  You can order take-out or eat-in sitting on a stool at the bar, in a wooden booth or at a table. They serve pizza only, one size only, and, you'll only wait 5-10 minutes to be served. You'll get no menu -- sign boards list the toppings and how much each will add to the price of the $11.00 pizza. Since 1945, they open at 4:00PM & close at Midnight (6 days a week).

Andy's PizzaJoe took me there just before we got married, on my very first visit to Jessup.  My love affair with this pizza began on that very first trip, with that very first bite of that very first slice and has continued now for almost 35 years.  It's no wonder the loyal locals refer to this uniquely different pie as "the pizza world's best kept secret."  I am in their camp, but, as with all pizza, there are those who feel otherwise.  We two love this legendary pizza so much, that, once a year, every Fall, Joe makes a pilgrimage for the sole purpose of bringing home twelve pies for our freezer.  We order them uncut, then I just slide each one into a ziplock bag and freeze 'em all.

NOBODY can make Andy's Pizza in Peckville, PA, better than Andy's, but, after many tries, I've have come up with a close in-home rendition!

A bit about Andy's Pizza:  The yeasty taste (resemblant of beer without beer being added) of the otherwise bland, chewy, tender, really crispy crust is the first thing everybody remembers.  It's thick around the perimeter, medium-ish across the bottom, breadlike in appearance (meaning it doesn't have big, gassy air holes in it), and, most amazingly, it is not overly-browned (which would dry it out).  At first glance, it fools you into thinking it is undercooked, when in fact it is perfectly cooked.  It is neither a fold-and-eat Neopolitan-style crust nor a knife-and-fork Sicilian-style crust.  After the crust, more magic happens when a rather generic sauce (not too sweet or spicy with no distinguishable flavor of any dominant herb) meets a goodly amount of creamy, molten, white American-type processsed cheese or cheese blend -- once again, perfectly-melted without over-browning.  If you like a pie with long strands of stringy mozzarella, this, pie is not for you, but do not knock it until you have tried it.  The sauce and the cheese unite in such a way that neither one dominates the other or the crust.  It's a delightful experience!

IMG_8161A bit about Nobody's Pizza:  After more experiments than I can count, Joe nicknamed my trials (none were inedible failures) "Nobody's Pizza", because while good, they weren't even close to the target. Persistence pays off.  Happily, my home version is now as close to eating an actual Andy's pie sans them handing me their recipe.  

A couple of years back, however, I gave up on using my electric-stand mixer with paddle attachment to make the dough.  I'm certain Andy's most likely uses a giant Hobart-type mixer of some sort in order to produce the hundreds of pies they need to turn out at warp speed.  The day I decided to place all of my ingredients in my bread machine, on the pizza dough cycle, I never looked back.  In 55 minutes, my dough emerges perfectly mixed, proofed and ready to rock 'n roll.  Feel free to use your stand mixer -- the dough turns out the same.

IMG_8154For the pizza dough:

1  cup water + 6 tablespoons water

3  cups unbleached bread flour

1  cup semolina flour (pizza makers commonly add this to pizza dough in place of some of the flour to give it "chew")

IMG_81571 1/2  teaspoons fine sea salt

1 packet granulated yeast, not rapid-rise (2 teaspoons granulated yeast)

4  tablspoons total olive oil, 2 tablespoons each for oiling 2, 12"-round pizza pans

~ Step 1.  In order listed, place the IMG_8163water, bread flour and semolina in bread pan of bread machine.  Using your index finger, make a shallow well in the center (do not expose any of the water).  Add the salt and the yeast to the well.  Close the lid and push the "select" button.  Then choose the "pizza dough" cycle. Push the "start" button.  When machine signals, remove pan of dough from the machine.

Step 2.  Using a paper towel, oil each of 2, 12"-round pizza pans with 2 tablespoons olive oil.

IMG_8169~ Step 3.  Remove the dough from the bread pan and form it into a large ball, then divide the dough into two even-sized balls and place one on each oiled pan.

IMG_7961Note:  You'll have 2-pounds of dough.  If you have a kitchen scale, use it to divide precisely.

IMG_8197 IMG_8174~ Step 4. Taking your time, gently pat and press the dough evenly across the bottom and evenly up the sides of the pan.

Note:  I do this in 3 parts taking 15 total minutes, allowing the dough to rest about 5 minutes each time before patting and pressing again.

IMG_8205 IMG_8190~ Step 5. Using a fork, gently prick the surface of the dough about 30-40 times.  This will prevent the bottom of the pie from bubbling up when baking.  

Note:  Do this so as to break the surface without opening any holes through to the bottom of the pan.

IMG_8320For the sauce and the cheese:

2 1/2  cups pizza sauce, preferably homemade, or your favorite brand

5 1/2  cups grated Provel* or American cheese (Note:  This is a matter of taste and I use Provel.)

*A bit about the Provel cheese: Provel cheese was developed by the St. Louis firm Costa Grocery in the 1950's.  Made in Wisconsin, it's processed American cheese made from a combination of provolone, Swiss and white cheddar.  It is 6a0120a8551282970b01774463628e970dwhite, slightly smoky and slightly salty.  It has the exact same texture and melting qualties as white American with a bit more tang.  I purchase it (it comes in 5-pound blocks or grated in bags) on line at www.itsastlouisthing.com.

IMG_8240 IMG_8219~ Step 6. Place 1 1/4 cups of sauce in each of two small  bowls.  Add 1 cup of grated cheese to each bowl and stir to combine.

IMG_8228Note: Stirring some cheese into IMG_8256the sauce is what gives this pizza that ubiquitous layer of sauce and cheese rather than the typical layer of sauce with a layer of cheese on top.

~ Step 7.  Spread the cheesey sauce evenly over the surface of both crusts, then, sprinkle 1 3/4 cups of additional cheese over each.  Set pizzas aside, uncovered, for 1 hour, to allow dough to rise up around the sides.

~ Step 8.  Place a pizza stone on center rack of oven and preheat to 375 degrees (no higher and no lower for this pizza in the home kitchen).  Bake pizzas, one at a time, as follows:

IMG_8264 IMG_8286Place pan of pizza on pizza stone and bake for 9 minutes.  

With the aid of a spatula, lift a corner of the pie up and using your other hand (and a pot holder or oven mitt), tilt the pan to slide the pie off the pan and onto the stone.

IMG_8268Fashion and place a very loose dome of aluminum foil over pie, making sure the foil does not touch anything but the crust (not the surface where the cheese is bubbly. The foil will prevent the cheese from over-browning.  Continue to bake for 6 more minutes, for a total of 15 minutes baking time.  The crust will be barely-browned and the cheese will be molten.  Do not overbake!

Discard foil, and, using a pizza peel, transfer from stone to cooling rack:

IMG_8291Allow to cool 15-18 minutes (molten, lava-esque cheese needs to set)!

IMG_8307Slice...

IMG_8334... pick a slice... 

IMG_8339... take a taste and appreciate!

IMG_8362Nobody's Pizza:  For the Somebody in All of Us!:  Recipe yields 2, 12" pizzas.

Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; bread machine; 2, 12"-round pizza pans; paper towels;  2, 2-cup measuring containers; cheese grater; pizza stone; spatula; pizza peel; large cooling rack

6a0120a8551282970b0147e3591d45970bCook's Note:  We Preschutti's love homemade pizza and I make several different kinds (just click on the Related Article links below to get the recipes).  Click into Category 8 to read ~ Preschutti Pizza, Parts I, II & III:  Our Favorite Sauce, Our Favorite Crust & Our Favorite Four Toppings ~!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014) 

Comments

Joan -- Joe and I have been talking about us coming to Andy's together one of these Friday or Saturday nights. I think you meet him, on occasion on Thursdays, when he orders a couple of pies w/sausage to bring home to me. I cannot wait to meet you, and, I promise: my pizza will not be as good as yours -- just a very good substitute!

Our email address is andyspizza@yahoo.com. Please send me a email when you are coming, I would love to meet you, and bring one of your pizzas. Looking forward to your visit!! Joan

Andy's!!! You made my day!!! Hats off to you and your pizza -- it truly is one-of-a-kind. I've even taken your pies (frozen from my freezer) out to my son in Pittsburgh -- even in the land of pizza and fries he prefers yours to any he can get out there. It's soon time for Joe to drive to Jessup to replenish our supply -- perhaps I'll come along for the ride this time!

I have to say, what a complement. Thanks for the nice words, would love to try your version of our pizza.

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