When I was growing up there were two different categories of pizza. There was the kind you got at a Pizzeria, which in upstate New York usually meant New York style or something similar but slightly thicker, and then there was pizza at Grandma’s house.
Any meal at Grandma’s house was special, and when I was growing up I considered my grandmother to be the worlds greatest cook. But then, what kid didn’t? Pizza night at Grandma’s was always especially exciting because dinner was served on paper towels so we didn’t have set the table, and we got to drink Pepsi on ice instead of milk with dinner. Grandma’s pizza was thick and bready, topped with bagged grated mozzarella, and Hormel pepperoni or fresh crumbles of sweet Italian sausage. She baked it in a jelly roll pan with dried oregano and lots of sauce.
This type of thick crusty pizza goes by many names, Sicilian style, Detroit style, even Grandma style, but I just call it home style. As I grew up and started cooking myself, I experimented with pizza a lot. Over time I realized that I always enjoy New York style pizza from a pizzeria better than when I make it myself, but nothing beats a bready square slice of homestyle pizza to make me feel relaxed and take me back to my childhood.
Since then my tastes have changed a bit, and while I sill love my grandmother’s pizza, I do things quite a bit differently from the way she does. I prefer a whole wheat crust now. Since the pizza is so much like focaccia I go all out and make it as bready as possible. The toppings usually change but I always load the pizza with fresh veggies and freshly grated mozzarella. One of my favorite things to do is to slice cherry or grape tomatoes in half lengthwise and put them, cut side up, on top of everything else before sending the pizza to the oven. The tomatoes get slightly browned and caramelized and go soft and warm in the middle. There’s just something about that that gets me going.
This particular pizza was inspired by a pizza I had a Roberta’s in Bushwick a few years ago. Their pizza was thin, crispy, and charred on the bottom, with shaved Brussels sprouts and a German cured ham called Speck. I kept the shaved Brussels sprouts but subbed the Speck for Capicola. Prosciutto works great here too. I’ve also added my cherry tomatoes, some thinly sliced red onion for spice, and make an easy garlic butter and oil spread instead of red sauce.
Home Style Pizza with Shaved Brussels Sprouts and Capicola
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough: (adapted from Martha Stewart)
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 packets active dry yeast
1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for bowl
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons coarse Kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
2 cups whole-wheat flour
Garlic Butter and Oil Spread:
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper
1/8 teaspoon coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 a pint of grape tomatoes cut in half lengthwise
1 very small red onion cut into very thin strips
5 or 6 large Brussels sprouts, shaved (I like to cut the bottoms off and shave them on a mandolin)
12 oz of grated mozzarella cheese
2 to 3 oz of thinly sliced capicola or prosciutto, torn into small strips
Whole Wheat Pizza Dough:
Place water in a large bowl; sprinkle with yeast. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Brush another large bowl with oil.
In bowl with yeast, whisk sugar, oil, and salt. Stir in flours with a wooden spoon until a sticky dough forms. Transfer to oiled bowl; brush top of dough with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap; let stand in a warm spot until dough has doubled in size, about 1 hour. The dough can be divided into two balls for a thin crust pizza, or will make one homestyle pizza. The dough also freezes well. Use the time while the dough is rising to make your garlic spread and get your toppings ready.
Preheat oven to 450° F. Turn dough out onto a well floured surface and knead until smooth, about 15 or 20 seconds. Allow the dough to rest for 10 minutes.
Sprinkle a 17×11 jelly roll pan with corn meal or flour and stretch the dough to the edges of the pan. Press the pizza into the edges to form a thin crust around the outside of the pizza.
Garlic Butter and Oil Spread:
In a small bowl melt butter in microwave with olive oil. Finely mince or crush the garlic and mix into the warm butter and oil mixture with all remaining ingredients. I try to make this while the pizza dough is rising, or at least 20 minutes or so ahead so that the oil can take on all the other flavors.
Assemble the pizza:
Brush the dough with the garlic oil spread, leaving the edge of the crust dry. Sprinkle about 3/4 of the cheese over the pizza, evenly layer the remaining toppings, and finish with the last of the cheese. Bake on the top rack of the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the crust is crisp and the cheese and toppings are just beginning to brown. With a spatula, carefully slide the pizza out of the pan onto a cutting board and divide into 12 slices.