Everyone loves pizza. I mean, everyone. Even my child who turns up her nose at traditional kid-foods like chicken nuggets is all about some pizza. And why not? It tastes great and, when made buffet-style at home so that everyone gets to design his or her very own part of the pie, is great fun.
A recent Brooklyn Nine-Nine episode got me to thinking, what is it that makes great pizza great? Is it the crust? The toppings? The cheese? The sauce?
I'm sure that the greatest pizzas ever tout high ratings in all categories, but I would posit that for homemade pizzas, it's the sauce that makes the biggest and easiest difference.
Pizza is only as good as its sauce. Seriously, if you choose the easy route for your crust (pop a can), cheese (open a bag), and toppings (bagged greens), so be it. But, please take the time to make your own sauce. You won't be sorry.
Good sauce requires wine. You may resist this, but it's undeniable fact. My late mother-in-law's handwritten recipe (copied for you below) says "1/2 c. dry red wine -- can use water," but I am telling you that the difference between "this is good pizza" and "oh-my-word, that's the best pizza sauce I've ever had!" is the wine.
So, if you live among teetotalers and fear their judgment as you stand in line to pay for your wine, just fashion yourself a little sign ahead of time that you can hang around your neck while you're in the store. It could say something like, "it's pizza night" or "I care more about making good pizza than I do about what you think of me" or "don't judge me for buying wine, and I won't judge you for making bad pizza sauce" or some such. Be creative.
If you have no such qualms about buying wine, you can skip all that (or maybe just make yourself a sign, too, because, honestly, it just sounds fun, doesn't it?).
Here's the secret to wowing your family with pizza:
1 small can tomato paste
1 small can tomato sauce
2 T. vinegar (I use red wine vinegar)
1/2 c. (or so) red wine
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. Italian seasoning
dash of salt and pepper
Throw it all in a pot and allow it to simmer for 20 minutes or so. (Warning: if you live with my husband or his brother, you will probably have to stand guard over the simmering pot of sauce or else risk every last bit of it being used up as they linger in the kitchen to "test" the sauce, using pepperonis as spoons.)
And, once it's finished . . . Yum!!!! You could probably put it on cardboard and top it with shredded newspaper, and no one would notice.
Now, what you plan to do with the rest of that bottle of red wine is entirely between you and the ones you share your meal with. No judgments here, I promise. ;)