I heard on the news the other day that the Papa John’s Pizza chain founder and CEO announced that he would have to raise the price of his pizza 14 cents in order to provide his pizza makers and delivery guys with health insurance under Obamacare. Papa John’s claims that they just can’t afford the extra expense, estimated at up to 8 million dollars, to ensure that their employees have health insurance and receive proper health care. But, let’s face it, most people working in that industry are not making a lot of money, and can hardly afford health insurance and health care on their own.
Apparently, Papa John’s can’t afford to contribute to employee health insurance, but the CEO/founder can afford a mansion in Kentucky so massive (40,000 square feet), that it would probably take a pizza delivery guy more than thirty minutes to deliver a pizza from the kitchen to the living room. But then again, he’s earned it, right? He’s a “producer”, although he doesn’t actually personally make or deliver the zillions of pizzas each year that have brought his net worth to hundreds of millions of dollars What else can Mr. Papa John afford? He can afford to give away, along with his good buddy Peyton Manning, (who isn’t half the quarterback Tom Brady is, but that’s a whole other story), two million free pizzas.
It was Jon Stewart who summed up clearly why CEO’s are whining about Obamacare. They have for the past 30-40 years been trying to roll back the gains, such as the 40 hour work week and employment based medical coverage, that working people have fought for over the past 100 years. According to Stewart, Obamacare is just another excuse for them to take back what working people have come to expect in the American workplace.
Papa John’s brags that they use “better ingredients” in their pizza. My question is, better than what, Domino’s, Pizza Hut? That’s not saying much. These agita inducing pizzas are equivalent to squashed sour tomato on cardboard.
Pizza is so easy to get right. We should just make our own. It takes about five minutes to put together and about 20 to 25 minutes to cook, just about the same time it would take you to get pizza delivered, and it costs about one-quarter to one-third the price of delivery. So, I’ve decided to offer my recipe for those like me who are fed up with overpaid, arrogant CEO’s, and who would like to tell Mr. Papa John what he can do with his artificial pizza. It’s the only way you can really ensure that you are getting the best ingredients.
There are three parts to the pizza; the dough, the sauce, and the cheese and toppings. You can make the dough yourself, or buy it in the supermarket. I like Shaw’s dough, and Marketbasket’s dough is OK. You can buy (or make) whole wheat dough to improve your nutrition. Marketbasket’s dough is about $1.20 and Shaw’s is around $2.00. Invest in a pizza stone. They help you create the perfect crust. Sprinkle some corn meal on the stone to prevent the pizza from sticking to the stone. Be patient when stretching the dough on the counter top, sprinkle flour on your counter to prevent the dough from sticking to the counter. Don’t be afraid to use your rolling pin to stretch the dough.
Here’s a pizza dough recipe (you can use your mixer and then knead it by hand for a while until smooth, once it comes together):
Two teaspoons of dry yeast (or one package)
One cup of warm water (110 degrees F.)
Three cups of flour (I like to use King Arthur Bread Flour)
Two tablespoons of oil (I like to use olive oil)
One teaspoon of salt
One half teaspoon of sugar
Instructions: Combine the water, sugar and yeast in a bowl. Wait about 10 to 15 minutes until it gets foamy. Add in the oil to the water mixture and combine with one cup of flour, add in the salt. Gradually add in the remaining flour. Keep a small amount of flour aside to sprinkle on the counter as you knead your dough on the counter until it‘s smooth. Place the dough in a greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and wait until it doubles in size. Then punch it down and it‘s ready to stretch and use, or cover with plastic wrap and freeze it for later.
The sauce can make or break a good pizza. I use a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes which is good for two pizzas. Be careful not to buy crushed canned tomato from concentrate (it should tell you if it’s from concentrate on the label).
Easy Pizza Sauce:
One quarter cup of diced onion
Three or four cloves of garlic (crush the garlic, you can use more or less depending upon your taste)
One teaspoon of salt (again, more or less to your taste)
One quarter teaspoon of pepper
One tablespoon of dried oregano (or fresh if available)
One teaspoon of sugar (the sugar helps cut down on tartness)
Two to three tablespoons of olive oil
One 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (the better the tomatoes, the better the sauce tastes, I like Pastene)
Sauté the onions in the olive oil until translucent, add in the crushed garlic, being careful to not burn the garlic. Add in crushed tomatoes, salt pepper, sugar, and oregano. You are done, it’s ready to go on the pizza, no need to cook the sauce further.
Cheese and Toppings: I like to buy block mozzarella and grate my own, it’s cheaper that way. You can experiment with a mix of different cheeses, using provolone, asiago, parmesan, but be careful, some cheeses like provolone and parmesan burn easy. You can make the dough and the sauce ahead of time, and grate the cheese, leave them in your refrigerator for when you come home from work, and put it together and cook it in about 30 minutes for dinner. Cook on your pizza stone at 425 degrees for about 20 to 25 minutes until the bottom crust is golden and the cheese is melted.
As my grandmother would say, “Mangia, Mangia!”, (Eat, Eat!)