Tuesday, April 6, 2010

A New World to the Old World


The dough can make for endless conversations and debates. I suppose it's been debated since the first pizza made in Naples centuries ago. The dough recipe that I keep coming back to even though I am constantly experimenting with others is Beverly Collins who gives out her recipe in the 'Secrets of the Pizzeria'. It is available for purchase but I don't want to give away what she is selling so I will not post her recipe. Others that are out there are Mitch's dough recipe which is at www.FabulousFoods.com:

  1. 3 1/2 cups flour
  2. 1 cup warm water
  3. 2 tablespoons yeast
  4. 2 tablespoons honey
  5. 1/4 cup olive oil
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
Along the way I found it necessary to experiment and try other dough recipes and other styles. I had the opportunity to go to Tony's Napoletana Pizzeria in San Francisco. Tony is famous internationally in the world of pizza and food in general. He has been world champion pizza tosser for numerous years as well as world champion pizza maker by actually beating the Italians in Naples at making a Margherita Pizza. He's all over You Tube, Food Channel, Jay Leno, Rachel Ray and you get the idea. We got the chance to meet him and taste his award winning pizzas. There were 5 of us so we ordered 3 pizzas. The award winning Margherita named for Queen Margherita of Italy designed to be the colors of the Italian flag. The red tomato sauce, the white mozzarella and topped with green basil leaves. Besides that one we also ordered a cheese pizza and a garlic and clams on a white sauce which was in itself worth the 2 hour drive from Sacramento. Tony unknowingly opened up a whole new world of pizza to me. These were all thin crust Napoletana style baked in a brick fired oven imported from Italy. Did I mention they bake in 90 seconds at 900º?
I knew exactly what my new goal was now. I had to try and duplicate what the master does 73 times a night. When Tony reaches 73 Margherita's he's done for the night.
I used my standard dough recipe made for thin crust and rolled it out as thin as I could from tossing and finishing with the rolling pin. On it I did not use my standard sauce. I had done my homework. On his menu that we brought home tells you the type of San Marzano whole plum tomatoes imported from the Compania region of Italy near Naples grown in the ash of Mt. Vesuvius that he uses. He had also mentioned imported Mozzarella di Bufala on his menu as well. We shopped and we found at Nugget the brand of tomatoes Tony uses for $5.99 for a 28oz can. We also had found tubs of the mozzarella di bufala imported from Italy at Grocery Outlet. A basil plant was all we needed and it was pizza time.
I preheated the oven for over an hour and a half at 550º with the pizza stone on top of the tile stones. This warmed up the kitchen a tad. I turned the vent fan on low and paced myself. The sauce I made earlier was simple. Crushed tomatoes with a little bit of red wine vinegar, salt & pepper. I did not cook the sauce, I chilled it. I applied the sauce to the dough and it spread out almost translucent. I had sliced the mozzarella and dried the slices on paper towels. Spreading the cheese out carefully now and drizzling it with a high quality extra virgin olive oil. I slid it into the hot oven. I was anxious but I was peeking through the glass in the oven door. I had some basil leaves ready, opened the door and dropped them on and slid it back in quickly. About 3 minutes was all it needed as light as it was in mass. I pulled it out with noticeable charring on the edges and bubbling cheese. Let it rest a minute or two and listen for that crunch when you cut it. OMG, when I took my first bite I knew I wasn't far behind Tony. He had given all his secrets on his menu and on You Tube.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, they were all great pizzas. Loved the whole experience of Tony's Pizzeria-the decor, the excitement of The City, the lit up bridges and buildings, and the maniacal traffic--all worth it for those incredible wood fired pizzas. But I also have to admit, I feel very fortunate to get to eat the delicious, crunchy pizzas at home and from a standard kitchen oven that are being baked along your journey. Always forward...