Thick-Cut Pepperoni Pizza in a Wood-Fired Oven
A loaded pepperoni pizza on a Neapolitan style crust cooked in a wood-fired oven.
Pizza is just one of those comfort foods that makes everyone feel good. For me, pepperoni pizza is the king of pizza. Don't get me wrong, I make all kinds of pizza and several recipes can be found below. Pepperoni pizza is just my hands-down favorite.
There are two pizza dough recipes on this site. One is for pizza made in a wood-fired oven and the other is for pizza made in a conventional oven. Both require overnight fermentation so plan accordingly. The difference between the two is the amount of water in the dough. Because a wood-fired oven cooks a pizza at 900˚F in 90 seconds, it needs less water in the dough. If one uses the conventional oven dough with more water in a wood-fired oven, it will make a huge mess. The bottom of the dough will not dry out enough by the time the top has cooked and it will tear when trying to remove it from the oven.
Both pizza dough recipes are from the 24-48 Hour Pizza Dough recipe in the book "The Elements of Pizza: Unlocking the Secrets to World-Class Pies at Home" by Ken Forkish. It's an outstanding book. If you love pizza, this is a must own.
This is a true Neopolitan pizza dough from Naples. I have tried every dough recipe in the book and like this one the best, it's easy and hard to mess up. Form the dough into a disc by first gently pressing with your finger tips from the inside out. Then, hold it vertically and gently stretch the rim while letting gravity work and expand the pizza dough.
The pizza sauce is simple and fantastic. It is made from whole canned San Marzano tomatoes and a little sea salt, that's it. If you have extra, doctor it up and make pasta sauce.
Most of my pizzas are made with a blend of four cheeses. This pizza is made with 50% low-fat mozzarella, 25% asiago and 25% fontina. Then a bit of parmesan or pecorino romano is added at the end. Mozzarella is, of course, on practically every pizza made. The asiago adds a little bit of a nutty flavor and the fontina is just creamy and good.
There are two things to know about pepperoni. First, most store-bought pepperoni is too thin to make pizza and will just curl up and die in a wood-fired oven. Second, pepperoni is greasy and you have to plan on doing a little cleanup before serving.
I solved the first problem by buying a pepperoni log rather that sliced pepperoni. It gets sliced on my meat slicer nice and thick. I want the pepperoni to cook on the edges and curl a bit, but nothing more. Thick pepperoni is the ticket, cut it on a meat slicer for consistent slices.
Love at 900˚F
A wood-fired oven will cook a pizza in 90 seconds. With the coals pushed to the back of the oven, the part of the floor closest to the burning logs will be about to 950˚F. The area 20" from the logs may be only 750˚F. Place the pizza about 6" from the logs. Then, using a small metallic pizza peal, rotate the pizza ¼ turn every 20 seconds. This will cook FAST, there is NO time to go get a beer. After a full rotation check the bottom and the edge of the pizza. If there is an area on the edge that needs a little more heat, put it back in with that area closest to the fire 10 seconds at a time until done. The bottom of the crust should show some small dark areas particularly near the edge.
If using a conventional oven, place a pizza stone in the middle of the oven and set the oven to its highest setting, probably 500˚F. Let it warm up for about 30 minutes. Thick pizza stones (about ½" thick) seem to hold heat better and cook more evenly. Place the pizza in the center of the stone and cook for 6 - 10 minutes, depending on your oven. There is no need to turn a pizza cooked in a conventional oven.
Remove the pizza from the oven and let it setup for a few minutes before slicing. In the meantime, gently lay a sheet of paper towel across the pepperoni and blot up as much grease as possible. Then, cut, serve and enjoy.
Try These Recipes
- Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza
- Wood-Fired Oven Pan Pizza
- Margherita Pizza with Buffalo Mozzarella
- Mushroom and Goat Cheese Pizza
- Chicken Calzone with Spinach and Artichoke Hearts
- Carnitas Pizza
Wood-Fired Pepperoni Pizza
- Pizza stone or Pizza oven
- 3 ball pizza dough
- 28 oz San Marzano tomatoes (whole)
- 1.5 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon Parmesan or Pecorino Romano grated
- ½ cup low-fat mozzarella freshly grated
- 3 oz pepperoni sliced
- See separate recipe for making the pizza dough. NOTE: There are TWO pizza dough recipes on this site. One for a wood-fired oven and one for a conventional oven. If you are baking this on a pizza stone in a conventional oven, then pre-bake the pizza dough, after it has been shaped, for two to three minutes.
- Add the San Marzano tomatoes and juices to a blender with fine sea salt. Pulse several times until the tomatoes break up and form a purée.
- Form the dough into a 12" round pizza (see pizza dough recipe). Brush the prepared pizza dough a good olive oil making sure to cover the crust. Spread a scant ¼ of the sauce on top of the olive oil to within ¾" of the edge.
- Sprinkle the Parmesan or Pecorino Romano on top of the sauce. Spread the mozzarella cheese on top.
- Liberally apply pepperoni on top of the cheese.
- Bake for 90 seconds or so in a 900 degree wood-fired pizza oven, turning every 20 seconds (a bit longer on a pizza stone in a convention oven). Remove when the cheese has melted and the crust is golden brown.
- Let the pizza rest a few minutes to setup.