Pizza may not be the first thing you think of when someone suggests you fire up the barbecue, but why not? Put out a table full of homemade sauces and ingredients, chill the beer, pour the wine and invite your family and friends over for a backyard pizza making get-together. Have some fun in the sun, Italian style.
Pizza wine defined
While there is an argument to be made for the yeasty character of fine sparkling wine with pizza, most people agree the best pizza wines are light to medium-bodied tangy reds.
Ruffino Chianti, Italy, $16.99
Louis Bernard Cotes du Rhone, France, $15.50
Trapiche Las Palmas Malbec, Argentina, $19.99
Crust of the matter: Beer and pizza pairings explained
While there is an undeniable affi nity between wine and pizza, there’s an equally compelling argument to drink beer with your next slice. The yeasty elements of many beers find a flavour bridge with pizza’s crust. If you don’t believe us, ask an Italian. While pizza originates in Italy, many Italians prefer to drink a cold lager with pizza instead of wine.
Goose Island IPA, 6×341 ml, $13.99
Dos Equis XX Lager, 6×355 ml, $14.95
Bud Light, 6×341 ml, $12.99
Propeller Pilsner, 6×341 ml, $13.49
Simple Pizza Sauces
Place 2 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves, 1/4 cup pine nuts, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 cup Parmesan in a blender; purée. Slowly add 2/3 cup olive oil in a stream and continue to purée. Add 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice, a teaspoon at a time, until desired flavour profile is achieved.
Place a heavy bottomed pot over medium-low heat. Melt 1/4 cup butter. Add ¼ cup flour and cook, stirring constantly, until a thick paste forms. You do not want to let the paste brown. Add 2 1/2 cups warm milk and raise heat to high. Bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, immediately reduce heat to low and let cook for a further 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Simple Tomato Sauce
Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to a pot or large sauté pan. Place over medium-low heat. Add 1 finely chopped onion and gently sauté until soft and translucent. Add a big splash of milk and cook until it has mostly evaporated. Add 1 large can of San Marzano tomatoes and half a jar of strained tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to medium-low. Season the sauce with salt. Let the sauce cook for 2 hours. Do not serve immediately. Let the sauce rest for at least few hours, or overnight, before using.
A slice of pizza’s past
997 – First references to flatbread made in and around Rome.
1500s – Pizza popularity abounds. Flatbreads are cooked in outdoor ovens and topped with anchovies, garlic, cheese and tomatoes. The latter was, at the time, an exotic ingredient brought to Italy by New World explorers.
1600s – Pizza goes from being a peasant food to a royal dish. King Fernando IV of Naples orders a pizza oven built for his palace.
1889 – Naples pizza maker Raffaele Espisito creates a pizza combining tomato sauce, Mozzarella cheese and basil in honour of the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy.
1943 – Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo open Pizzeria Uno in Chicago’s Near North Side neighbourhood, where they serve up pizza with a thicker than normal crust. Deep dish pizza is born.
1984 – The AVPN (Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana) is set up to promote authentic Neapolitan style pizza.
2009 – Neapolitan style thin crust pizza is protected in the European Union as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed dish.