I grew up eating thin crust sausage and mushroom pizzas at Fox Hole in McHenry, Illinois. I'd head to Lou Malnati's for a Chicago deep dish and had my first wood-fired pizza at a little Italian joint in London. My girlfriends and I would polish off a couple pizzas at Punch or Pizza Nea in Minneapolis on a regular basis. I love them all.
What I don't love are the pizzas I've sampled in Australia. They are just...missing something. The crust isn't quite right or the cheese isn't cooked enough or the sauce is too subdued. The Aussies love their pizza because they're on offer everywhere we go, I'm just still searching for that great, perfect pie.
While I search, M and I have become near experts at making pizzas at home. I make the dough and the sauce, while M is in charge of shaping the dough, topping distribution, and cooking the pizza. He's come up with this addictive little trick where he brushes the crust of the pizza with honey before he bakes it---crispy, sticky, goodness.
I have started making larger batches of sauce and freezing it in 1-cup portions. The sauce itself is loaded with flavor from the fresh herbs, garlic and imported Italian canned tomatoes. The red wine cooks down and adds depth to the other ingredients. It freezes beautifully and having it on hand is very useful, particularly if you've got some frozen dough at the ready too.
For about 5 cups:
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 4-14 ounce (400 gram) cans diced Italian tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
- 1 can tomato paste
- 1/2 cup fruity red wine
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until just golden. Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, sugar, salt and red pepper flakes. Stir together and bring to a simmer.
Simmer, stirring occassionally until the sauce has thickened about 30-45 minutes. Stir in the oregano and basil. Taste and add more salt if needed. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Puree the sauce until smooth in batches in a blender, being careful to only fill it halfway so it doesn't erupt into a molten mess.
Pour the sauce into plastic containers or ziploc freezer bags and freeze until ready to defrost and use.