During high school, we desperately wanted to be a cross between Ferris Bueller and Jeff Spicoli although we probably managed a McLovin' at best.
Spicoli's complete disinterest in authority and school work made him an appealing role model during our teenage years. We'd like to skim over the fact that he'd probably be unemployed and/or in prison by now.
One of his most memorable acts was ordering pizza during class with his nemesis Mr. Hand. In a cruel, but on reflection totally warranted, twist of fate, Mr. Hand ends up offering the delicious double cheese and sausage pizza to Spicoli's classmates instead. To achieve the pizza high that was snatched away from Spicoli, we spoke to Dave Watts, head chef at the Cotswold House Hotel, for his version of the recipe.
Serves generally only 1 but if you want to share then do so
Preparation time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cooking time: 12 minutes
Pizza stone or flat baking tray
Large mixing bowl
Heavy bottomed medium sized pan
25g rapeseed oil or olive oil
1 x onions (roughly diced)
3 x cloves of garlic (sliced)
50g tomato puree
1 x pinch of salt
500g vine ripened tomatoes (cut into quarters) reserving the vines for later
5g basil (crushed)
Bread dough base
400g plain flour and a little more for dusting
2 x pinches of salt
1 x tsp sugar
125ml warm water
10g fast-acting dried yeast
3 x tbsp rapeseed oil or olive oil
For the topping
75 g gruyere cheese (grated)
75 g really mature, very strong cheddar cheese (I like to use Montgomery)
2 x pork and leek sausages (brought to the boil and gently simmered for 10 minutes then left to cool in the pan)
For the tomato sauce
Place the pan onto a medium heat and add the oil, diced onions and salt. Cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes until starting to soften. Add the sliced garlic and cook for a further 8-10 minutes on a low heat, still covered with the lid. Your onions and garlic should be completely soft. When they are soft, add the puree, turn the heat to medium and cook for 1 minute.
Add the quartered tomatoes, stir and leave uncovered. Return to a medium heat so that the juices from the tomatoes start to evaporate. Keep stirring the sauce every 3-5 minutes so that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan and cook for a further 15-20 minutes. When the tomatoes have become drier and slightly sticky, add the sugar, basil and tomato vines. Stir through the sauce and cover it with cling film, leaving it to infuse until required.
For the bread dough
In a large mixing bowl place the plain flour, salt and oil. Dissolve the yeast in the warm water and add it to the flour. Mix well with your hands until all of the ingredients are combined, remove from the bowl and kneed on your work top for a couple of minutes or until the dough is smooth. Place back into the cleaned bowl and cover with cling film. Allow this to prove for 20 minutes. It should just about double in size.
Finishing and building
Pre-heat your oven to as high a heat as it will go, around 230C , with your pizza stone inside (I like to use a pizza stone for an authentic flavour and at around £20 they are well worth the money, but a flat baking tray will work too).
Once the dough has proved, remove from the bowl and place onto a lightly floured chopping board, roll out with a rolling pin into a rough circular shape as thick as a pencil.
Spoon just enough of the tomato sauce into the centre of the pizza dough and work out to the edges with the back of a spoon. Slice the sausages as thick as you like and place randomly over the base, then sprinkle on the grated cheeses.
Carefully slide your pizza onto the pizza stone/tray from the chopping board and cook for 10-12 minutes. Once cooked, cut and serve, I don’t like to share this pizza at all!
Dave Watts is head chef at the Cotswold House Hotel. Rooms start from just £120 per person, with main courses at The Cotswold Grill ranging from £9.50 to £23.00. The Dining Room (fine dining restaurant) reopened in May. For further information, hotel and restaurant reservations, visit www.cotswoldhouse.com or call 01386 840330.