OCTOBER 22, 2012



When Jessica Carney was a kid, her mom ran a pizzeria in the Carneys' hometown of Grass Valley, California. The sous chef at Chicago's GT Fish & Oyster says, "We ate pizza every day for an entire year. I'm not joking."

And though you'd expect that early exposure would have dampened her enthusiasm for the dish, Carney still adores it, both making it at home and unearthing the best Chicago has to offer. For Sous Chef Series, she shared her tips for making chewy-crusted pies at home, using a dough she makes herself and a superheated pizza stone. If you're so inclined, the end result is good enough to eat every day.


Jessica Carney's:
See Recipe See the recipe for Jessica Carney's Clam Pizza



Do-Ahead Dough

To make homemade pizza a midweek meal, Carney suggests making the dough the night before you want to use it. "Rest it in the fridge overnight and it'll develop more flavor. Let it come to room temperature, then roll it and top it."

The Power of Preheating

In order to replicate the high heat of a wood-burning pizza oven, Carney cranks up her home oven and preheats her pizza stone. For a chewier, softer dough, she tops her pizza dough before putting it in the oven, but if you prefer a crisper crust, parcook the dough on the stone first until just cooked through, then remove it from the oven, add the toppings and return it to the oven until browned.

Clam Pizza


Two 12-inch pizzas


Pickled Chiles

Mild red chiles such as Fresno, 4 (sliced into thin rings)

Garlic cloves, 2 (thinly sliced)

Shallot, 1 (sliced crosswise into thin rings)

Granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon

Kosher salt, 1 tablespoon

Distilled white vinegar, ½ cup


Bread flour: 1½ cups plus an additional 1 tablespoon and extra for kneading

Garlic powder, ½ teaspoon

Warm water, ½ cup

Active-dry yeast, 1½ teaspoons

Honey, ½ teaspoon

Kosher salt, ½ teaspoon

Extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoon


Semolina flour or cornmeal, for the baking stone

Extra-virgin olive oil, ¼ cup

Canned clams, one 10-ounce can (drained and chopped)

Garlic cloves, 4 (very finely chopped)

Fresh mozzarella cheese, 1 cup (grated)

Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, 1½ cups (finely grated)

Watercress, 1 bunch


Chef's knife

Cutting board, 2 (or a cutting board plus a pizza peel or a baking sheet)

Measuring cups and spoons

Airtight container

Mixing bowls


Stand mixer (with the dough hook attachment)

Plastic wrap

Rubber spatula

Kitchen towel

Pizza stone

Rolling pin

Can opener

Cheese grater

Fine-mesh sieve

Metal spatula

Large platter


1. Make the pickled chiles: In an airtight container, add the

  • Red chile rings
  • Sliced garlic
  • Shallot rings
  • Granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • Distilled white vinegar

Cover, shake to combine and refrigerate for several hours or up to 1 week.

2. Make the pizza dough: In a medium bowl, whisk together

  • 1½ cups bread flour
  • Garlic powder

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the

  • Warm water
  • Active-dry yeast
  • Honey

Remove the bowl from the stand mixer, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes. Uncover the bowl, add the bread flour mixture and, using the dough hook, set the mixer to low speed and knead the ingredients together until they form a smooth dough. Use the rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and add

  • 1 tablespoon bread flour
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt

Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and knead for 5 minutes, then increase the speed to high and knead until the dough has an elastic, stretchy consistency, about 5 minutes more.

Lightly coat a large bowl or airtight container with

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

Use the rubber spatula to transfer the dough to the oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap (or a lid) and set aside at room temperature until the dough doubles in size, anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour (depending on how warm the room is--dough will rise faster in a warmer room); you can also refrigerate the dough overnight to develop more flavor. If doing this, let it sit on a counter for 45 minutes to 1 hour to come up to room temperature before rolling.

3. Sprinkle the cutting board with

  • Bread flour

Transfer the dough to the floured board and use a sharp knife to divide the dough in half. Lightly knead each half into a round and loosely cover with a damp kitchen towel. Set aside to rest for 30 minutes.

4. Make the pizza: Place a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 400°. Let the pizza stone warm in the hot oven for 30 minutes before making the pizza.

Set one dough round aside and, on a lightly floured surface, roll the other piece of dough into a 12-inch circle. Drain the pickled peppers through a fine-mesh sieve (save the pickling liquid for vinaigrettes). Dust another cutting board (or a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet) with

  • Semolina flour or cornmeal

Gently lift the rolled pizza dough off of the cutting board and onto the semolina-dusted surface. Drizzle with

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

And then sprinkle with

  • Half of the chopped clams
  • Half of the chopped garlic
  • Half of the drained pickled peppers
  • Half of the grated mozzarella cheese
  • Half of the finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Slide the pizza onto the hot pizza stone and bake until golden-brown, 15 to 18 minutes. Use the large metal spatula to transfer the pizza to a clean cutting board or large platter and rest for 1 minute before topping with

  • Half of the watercress

Slice and serve while making the other pizza with the remaining dough and toppings.

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