A mediocre pizza joint inspires homemade pie with Fort Collins's Incredible Hop

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I'm sad to report that I recently tried the pizza at a local popular purveyor of it and was quite disappointed. I won't share the name of the place, seeing as how we're all especially fervent about our favorite pizza joints, and I'd prefer not to step on anyone's dough. I will say, however, that the space is way too big, that I could barely hear myself think, and that it pains me greatly to see large groups of people going there for dinner.

In my opinion, if a bunch of people want to get together and eat, then they should pick a house and cook. Which is exactly what my friends and I did a few nights later, and we ended up throwing down a pretty impressive pie, if I do say so myself.

And we had a blast making it, especially the dough. There's something inherently satisfying about kneading and tossing around pizza dough. One can't help but feel Italian doing it, and really, who doesn't want to feel that way? Italians are cool. As are American craft brewers, come to think of it. They're our nation's quintessential artisans.

A case in point is a quote from Fort Collins Brewing's Ted Peterson on the label of their Incredible Hop, an Imperial Belgian IPA that's part of a series of hop-focused strong ales: "I get inspired. A lot of times it's by friends, and a lot of other times it's by beer. Some conversations, some hops and a gratitude for what some righteous monks across the mighty Atlantic have been up to for decades. Through that comes this: a classic Trappist yeast playing ball with an aromatic Double IPA. 'Tripel-Double.' No easy buckets!"

Not an easy task, indeed, but as is usually the case with Fort Collins beers, it was an easy layup on the palate with its lovely balance, and a slam dunk with a good slice of pizza (which is easier to make for yourself than you might think). I could be wrong, but I feel like FCB doesn't get nearly as much love as it should, I've yet to have a bad beer from the brewery.

Anyway, it was a wonderful meal with close friends, something I value dearly in any setting.

Here's the recipe for the dough (sans yeast):

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour 1 teaspoon sugar 3/4 cup water 1 teaspoons salt 1 1/2 teaspoon olive oil (plus more to brush the dough with) All-purpose flour for work surface

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. 2. In a large mixing bowl, combine flour and sugar. 3. Gradually add water until a sticky dough is formed and no dry flour remains. 4. Add salt and oil and mix until combined. 5. Light dust a clean surface with flour and gently knead until a smooth ball begins to form. 6. Let rest for 10 minutes or as long as it takes to drink a beer. 7. Using a rolling pin, roll out dough until desired thickness, which for me is very thin. 8. Place on a lightly floured baking sheet and brush liberally with olive oil. 9. Pre-bake for 5-10 minutes or until dough starts to rise.

and for the sauce (although I'd recommend personalizing yours):

1 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes 1 1/2 cups chicken stock 1 onion, chopped 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon oregano 1 teaspoon thyme 1 teaspoon basil Salt and pepper to taste Olive oil

1. In a large pot, sauté onions and garlic until onions are soft and translucent. 2. Add tomato and juices and stock and bring to a boil. 3. Stir in herbs, reduce to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. 4. Blend with immersion blender, season with salt and pepper to taste. and for our particular pizza that night:

Pre-baked pizza dough 1/2 pound pancetta, fried until crispy, roughly chopped 1 1/2 cups pizza sauce Fresh mozzarella (Marczyk's hand-pulls theirs in-house daily) 1 teaspoon oregano

Spread sauce onto dough, tear mozzarella and place throughout, sprinkle with pancetta and oregano and bake in a 500-degree oven until cheese begins to brown and bubble.

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