While pizza as we commonly know it may have first been invented in Naples, Italy in the late 18th century, it has become an American staple. And with a strong base of Italian immigrants here in our home state, and family-run establishments dating back to the early 1900’s, New Haven-style pizza is the official food of Connecticut. Today, we are sharing a little of our state’s pizza history, as well as a great recipe to make your own at home, as part of the Tour the World by Food blog hop.
Pizza: The Official Food of Connecticut
Today, pizza comes in all shapes and sizes, with regional variations and a wide assortment of toppings. You can buy it frozen at the grocery store, or have it delivered to your front door in less than an hour. So how did pizza get to be so big in not only Connecticut, but the rest of the country?
Pizza in America
Italian immigrants first brought pizza to America in the late 19th century, and one of the oldest and most famous pizzerias in the entire country sits just one town over from me in New Haven, Connecticut: Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, or as it’s more commonly known, Pepe’s Pizza. Open in 1925, it has been family run ever since. A nephew opened a competing pizzeria, Sally’s Apizza down the street in the late 1930s, and both still operate today. The two establishments have firmly established pizza as the official food of Connecticut, where it is often known as New Haven-style or ‘apizza’ (pronounced “ah-beetz”). Fans are dedicated to one or the other, with dedication that rivals the state’s Yankee/Red Sox and Giants/Patriots rivalries. For the record, we are Pepe’s fans.
Following World War II, pizza grew in popularity nationwide, as soldiers stationed in Italy returned to their homes across the country. Today, pizza is a near $40 billion industry in the U.S., with regional styles and multi-million dollar national chains.
Make Your Own Pizza
While you can buy pizza at the grocery store or have it delivered, making your own pizza is really easy. It only requires only a few basic ingredients for both the crust and sauce, and my girls love making their own! There is something truly satisfying about knowing all the ingredients you are putting into your meal, and with this basic crust and sauce recipe, it doesn’t get much more basic than this! After that, you can choose to top it with just about anything, just be sure to fully cook any meat toppings before adding them to your pizza.
Make your own dough, sauce and add toppings of your choice for simple, easy, homemade pizza
1 1/4 cups water (room temperature)
1 TBSP Kosher salt
1 tsp sugar
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp instant yeast (one packet)
1 TBSP olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Italian herbs (optional)
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
Combine all dry ingredients. Set aside.
Add water to bowl, and slowly add dry ingredients while stirring, until dough forms a ball. Allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
Kneed the dough for 5 minutes on a lightly floured surface. You may need to dust with additional flour as you kneed.
Form into a ball, and place in olive oil coated bowl. Cover and let sit for at least an hour. Dough should double in size.
You can wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to a week at this point.
Heat olive oil in skillet on medium-high heat. Add diced onion, and cook until soft.
Add garlic and any additional herbs of your choosing, until fragrant.
Add crushed tomatoes and simmer until warmed through.
Pizza will turn out best if cooked on a pizza stone, but you can also use a pizza pan.
Place pizza stone on the lowest rack of the oven and dust with cornmeal.
Pre-heat oven to its highest setting. Once it's heated, prepare your pizza.
The dough makes two 12" pizzas. Split your dough in half, and flatten into a disk, then stretch or roll with rolling pin to form a 12" circle. If cooking on a stone, it's best to prepare your pizza directly on a pizza peel, dusted with cornmeal for ease of transfer to your heated stone.
Add sauce, cheese and any additional toppings of your choice.
Cook for 8-10 minutes.
Allow pizza to cool for 3-5 minutes before cutting.
Special thanks to my brother-in-law, Brian, for the great dough recipe!
The girls love to help in every part of the process, from making the dough, to stirring the sauce, and most of all, making the actual pizzas! We actually already packed our pizza stone in preparation for the move in a few weeks, so had to settle for the pizza pan. The pizza doesn’t brown as well or get as crisp, but it’s still tasty!
We are proud to represent our home state of Connecticut in the Tour the World by Food blog hop. Be sure to check out all the other recipes from across the US and around the world!
What do you like to put on your pizza? Where’s your favorite place to get pizza? If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy two of our other favorite recipes: Edible ABC Pretzels and King Ranch Chicken Casserole.