The Food Dictator!

Pizza - The Noble Pie's History, Types and Best Baking Practices

March 07, 2020 Jonathan Hirshon Season 1 Episode 2
The Food Dictator!
Pizza - The Noble Pie's History, Types and Best Baking Practices
Chapters
The Food Dictator!
Pizza - The Noble Pie's History, Types and Best Baking Practices
Mar 07, 2020 Season 1 Episode 2
Jonathan Hirshon

Citizens, Now Is The Time To Revel, For The Glorious One - YOUR TFD! - Shares All Of His Knowledge About More Than A Dozen Varieties Of Pizza and How To Make The Ultimate Pizza At Home With The Members Of TFD Nation! Your Loyalty To The Cause Is Noted, Citizen - Join Us For New And Revolutionary Episodes Of TFD!

Support the show (https://www.paypal.me/tfd)

Show Notes Transcript

Citizens, Now Is The Time To Revel, For The Glorious One - YOUR TFD! - Shares All Of His Knowledge About More Than A Dozen Varieties Of Pizza and How To Make The Ultimate Pizza At Home With The Members Of TFD Nation! Your Loyalty To The Cause Is Noted, Citizen - Join Us For New And Revolutionary Episodes Of TFD!

Support the show (https://www.paypal.me/tfd)

Speaker 1:

Welcome Citizen! I, the Supreme Leader of TFD Nation, am honored you have chosen to attend today's mandatory listening session. Your loyalty is noted and now the recipe secrets that are Mine ALONE to share, are yours for the taking. Join me in glorious together as we march to celebrate true cuisine, true history and true flavor Revolution! What will be revealed in today's message? Only the Ultimate in world cuisine recipes - nothing less! So sit back and enjoy this episode of The Food Dictator. It is so decreed and ordered! Citizen Prime Jonathan Hirshon shall be my proxy for today's show as I must continue to plan the world food uprising. I have spoken!

Speaker 2:

Welcome back Citizens! Today, it is my great pleasure to do our first at length in depth podcast with you and I'm going to hold off and telling you what it is for just a second in case you didn't hear it on our first introductory podcast, but my Citizens, my glorious unmatched Citizenry today is indeed a red letter day here at TFT Nation. Red from the - wait for it - pizza sauce you will soon be enjoying on your very own homemade pizza. That's right. I'm going to teach you how to make the best pizza that you can get outside of a coal fired, genuine real pizzeria from one of the big cities or one of the local constabularies where pizza has morphed and mutated over more than a century into more than a dozen different regional styles. And I'm going to teach you all about those as well. So yes, it is indeed time for you all to walk the flour strewn path, flour spelled of course, F, L. O, U. R, sorry, bad pun that the all-knowing Generalissimo, the mighty and unmatched TFD has worn smooth from many journeys to enjoy the ultimate homemade pizza. My basic recipe for pizza, it's kind of a Frankenstein's monster made from the sinews of several of the recipes tweaked by me. And when combined, they make a sublime za worthy of the gods themselves, or in my case just TFD . But first, before we go into that, let me familiarize you with the multitudinous varieties of different pizza styles that exist throughout both Italy and North America. And believe me Citizens, there are a lot more than just New York and Chicago. So with no further ado, let's move forward. Shall we? Before we even go into that, let's talk about the history of pizza. So pizza arrived in America in the late 18 hundreds but it didn't actually become the ubiquitous food that we see today really until the 1950s and no one's quite sure why it took off the way that it did, but a lot of people think that it may have just been returning soldiers slash veterans coming back from Italy and world war two who picked up a taste for the pie there and decided that it was something that was worth replicating back home. Now, of course, the original origin of pizza goes way, way back, and that's going into when Italy was still a monarchy and in Naples, which of course is the spiritual and legal home of pizza throughout the world. There was a chef who decided to honor Queen Margarita who was coming to visit a city for the, not the first time, but certainly the first time he would get a chance to present a gift to the Queen. So what he created was the first pizza Napolitana which of course used red tomatoes, white Buffalo mozzarella, and green basil to form the colors of the Italian flag. And of course Italy was a newly-formed country at that point. So with pizza, it's actually an expression of Italian, both independence and national pride. And here's where we start getting into the politics of pizza. And this is a dangerous canal to swim through, but I'm going to try anyway. So to a true Italian, there is no other pizza except Neapolitan, maybe the Roman style as well. But Neapolitan pizza's where it's at, and we'll talk more about that in a second. The average American, when they try Neapolitan pizza, genuine Neapolitan pizza for the first time, tend to be kind of disappointed with it. And that's unfortunate. But we'll again go into more detail about why that happens. So there are to say the least. A lot of pizzerias in the U S there are approximately 75,000 pizzerias in the U S with more than $40 billion spent per annum on something that's basically just flour, water, salt and yeast. But out of that simple formula for the dough arise literally dozens of different styles. So let's talk about that because the style of pizza that you like the most tends to basically betray where you grew up. And in this case, I will betray my origins by starting with what I consider to be my personal favorite style of pizza, which of course is New York style. Now, New York style quintessentially, it's big wide slices that encourage folding and it's a thin crust. It has some backbone to it. So if you pick up a slice of New York, it shouldn't just fall over and die an unnatural, broken back death. It should have some backbone. It should stand up by itself, although you should fold said slice because it's very wide and it prevents grease from dripping all over you. Basically these are baked in traditionally coal or very, very hot ovens and it has that crunchy but very pliable crust. Now the original pizza of course is Neapolitan and Neapolitan style pizza. Basically the doughs are fermented, so it's almost like a sourdough going anywhere from a few hours to several days, which has a very soft, very delicious crust with beautiful pockets and a delicious crunch and it's always done in wood-burning ovens. And if it's made properly in the classic pizza margarita style, which it always should be, it is indeed a wonderful and delicious thing. Now there's also what's called Neo Neapolitan , which is a fairly new idea that was introduced by master pizza Baker, a gentleman named Peter Reinhardt a few years back and he suggested using American unbleached bread flour instead of the Italian flour, which is called double zero in a Neapolitan pizza recipe to create the Neo Neapolitan pizza. Typically it also has a bit of some kind of sweet or whether that's honey sugar or agave nectar, and that's a style that I also happen to be very partial to. There's also something called the tomato pie, and in this, unsurprisingly the sauce is pretty much where it's at. So depending on the region, there are lots of different styles of pizza referred to as a tomato pie. There's the reverse pizza, which is a basic pizza, but with the placement of the sauce and the cheese reversed, there's a Philly tomato pie, which is a thick square room-temp pizza topped with a thick sauce and a sprinkling of Parmesan Romano. And then there's the hand tossed, Neapolitan Neo Neapolitan style, which as we discussed, was topped with tomato sauce, oregano, olive oil, and just a very light dusting of cheese. Typical Neapolitan pizza uses only Buffalo mozzarella and it's only placed in very strategic places. It's not across the entire pie. Now, I spent my formative years growing up in Connecticut and as a result, the New Haven pie is very much near and dear to my heart. This is always done obviously in New Haven. The style is Coal-fired ovens reaching blistering hot temperatures, minimum 600 degrees, typically much higher up to a thousand degrees, and it's typically called by New Havenites 'a'beetz', which is Neapolitan slang for a pizza. It gets a very charred crust. They are usually not round or square. They're actually kind of misshapen, which adds to the charm and it could have everything from tomatoes, cheese, and sometimes even wait for it. Clams. Yes, the clam New Haven style pizza is one of God's great gifts to mankind. I know you may think it sounds disgusting, but trust me, it really is considered to be one of the greatest pizzas in the world and I completely endorse that. It does have a nice crunchy and chewy texture on the crust for that as well. Next, we've got Sicilian or grandma style and Sicilian pizza recognized very easily by the fact that it's a rectangular shaped pizza, not circular. It has a kind of a pillowy interior, a crunchy crust. It's a really nice style of pizza, minimal toppings, tomato sauce placed above the cheese, which helps to hold the whole pizza together and ensures that the crust is well cooked. Now there's a variant of Sicilian, which is called grandma pizza, which you don't find very often anymore, which is basically a thinner crunchier version of the Sicilian. Now we get to a controversial choice, not controversial to the people who love it, but controversial to me because as a new Yorker it's kind of in my DNA to start really dissing Chicago style pizza and I'm not going to do that even though it's my least favorite style of pizza mostly because to me it doesn't really feel like a pizza at all. It really looks more like a giant casserole stuffed into a crust. But all that said, there are a lot of people who consider Chicago deep dish to be the ne plus ultra of all pizza styles and power to them for that. So typically these are one to two inch thick ginormous pizzas not available by the slice, they're always sold by the pie and they absolutely need a fork and knife to handle it. So be advised that if you're going to order a Chicago style pie, you want to place that order before you even get to the restaurant because it can take up to 45 minutes to get it. And when I say a pie, I mean it is a pie, so it's a mainstay of Chicago culture. The food scene, it's a different style of pie than I particularly like, but that's not to say that it's not worthy in and of itself. Now, not to be confused with deep dish, we have the stuffed pizza, which has a thin crowning layer of pizza dough used to seal all the ingredients on the inside, think kind of like a pot pie, if you will, but with a pizza and it basically has a layer of tomato sauce and a little bit of Parmesan. Now we come to the Detroit style, which now we're getting into some of the really unusual sub varieties and some of these are really special, really fantastic. Detroit style is basically what you get when you take a Sicilian style pizza and you bake it in this very special blue steel pan that was originally designed to hold parts for the auto industry. So unsurprising that it took off in Detroit. These square pans act like a cast iron skillet and they create this massively crispy crunch on the crust and bakers deliberately push a blend of not just mozzarella cheese but also something called brick cheese all the way up the deep interior sides of the pans to form this amazing level of caramelization. And what you get is this really unique style of pizza that I happen to like a great deal, but you really can't find it much outside of the Detroit area. Traditionalists do bake the pie twice and they put the sauce on last to make sure that that super crispy crust remains intact. Now there's also a specific style of pie to St. Louis and the st Louis pizza. It's Cracker thin. I mean this is a super, super thin, very crispy style of pizza cut into squares called a party cut and toppings that stretch all the way to the edge so there's no crust at the very end. It's literally pizza all the way to the very end of it and it uses a very sweet tomato sauce and a regional cheese called provel, which is a combination of cheddar, Swiss provolone and liquid smoke. It's actually quite delicious, but it's not something that you would normally expect to see in a quote traditional pie, but I urge you to give it a try because it actually is really delicious. Next you get Californian pizza, which again, to a lot of people is something of a travesty because with California pizza, it's all about the toppings. You've got a hand tossed crust and you get these really, outré sorts of toppings ranging from Thai barbecue chicken to lobster to avocado, broccoli, kale, you name it. I have to admit, even though I've lived in California now for 25 years, I'm still not a huge fan of California pizza. Again, no disrespect to that particular style. It's just not my cup of tea. Now there is a version of a pizza in the Ohio Valley. Again, we're getting really micro regional here. This is basically the Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. It's all of these are basically found in that geography. The toppings are added to a square pie after the dough exits the oven, with the theory is that that heat from the crust will cook the toppings. You really won't find Ohio Valley style pizza pretty much anywhere outside of that region, but if you're ever there, I urge you to try it because it is a unique style and well-worth sampling. Now there's also bar or Tavern pizza, which is pretty much designed to go with a beer or a shot of booze and it's designed not to fill you up too fast. So they're very, very thin. They're round and cut into square pieces that style's all over the Midwest. You'll see it in Columbus, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, lots of places like that. There is also the grilled pizza, which was actually high pioneered in Rhode Island , uh , in a place specifically called Al Forno, a restaurant of some renown in Providence. And there they take the pizza dough and they brush it with oil before letting it take a turn or two over the grill with hot coals. The cheese and the toppings are added at the end and allowed to melt, which finishes off the pizza. I've had this style of pizza, it's quite delicious and there are Il Fornaiao now, restaurants pretty much all over the place now, so you might be able to actually find this. The pan pizza. Many of you have heard of that pizza hut made that very popular. It's basically proofed and cooked in a pan with butter, which gives you a very thick, very buttery crust. Here's an interesting one. This is called the Montenara or the Montenarene pizza and it's only going back to about 2007. It's a deep-fried Neapolitan-style dough topped with sauce and fresh mozzarella. So it's kinda like a pizza doughnut and good Lord is that a delicious style of pizza. It started in New York, but it's spread all over the country and even all over the world now. So if you get the chance to try that deep-fried pizza are you in for a treat. Now the next style is called a Vesuvio or it's also called a bomb pizza. It's a Neapolitan version of a stuffed pizza. It puts two crusts on top of each other and fills it with all kinds of ingredients, mozzarella , tomatoes, mushrooms, some will deliver directly to the table. If you do be really careful because when you cut into it, it kind of erupts like a volcano, which is where you get the Vesuvio from, molten cheese, sauce everywhere. It's kind of cool to watch and it's also quite delicious. Now here is a super, super regional style for you, Citizens. It's called Old Forge and it's specific to Old Forge, Pennsylvania, which bills itself, the pizza capital of the world, admittedly a bold claim, but they bake the Sicilian style pizzas in trays and their slices are called cuts. The sauce is very heavy with onion. The cheese of choice is mozzarella and cheddar, but it's also a mozzarella and Parmesan, sometimes very unique, very tasty and again very specific to that one small town in Pennsylvania. If you happen to go small, we're going to talk about the one of the smallest States in the country. Rhode Island, which does have its own specific style of pizza as well called pizza strips, which is bakery bread that's topped with tomato sauce and cut into strips. Is it a pizza? Ah , I really wouldn't think so, but it is quite tasty, so if you want to enjoy it, go to Rhode Island and give it a try. Now this style of pizza is one that's found throughout Connecticut in particular, but throughout New England and that's called the Greek pizza. A Greek pizza is not what you think. It is not a Greek salad on top of the pizza. What it is, it's a round oiled dough that puffs up nicely in the pan. The sauce very heavy on oregano. No surprise since it's Greek and the cheese laid on very thick. It's usually a mixture of mozzarella and cheddar. It's got heavy spice, dense dough, but if you live in Connecticut or New England, you've had this many times before and it is definitely its own unique style. Now this next one, it's actually I dare say my second favorite after New York style, and it's one that you probably have never heard of. It's called Quad Cities pizza and it's popular unsurprisingly in the Quad Cities region, which is Rock Island, Moline and East Moline in Illinois Bettendorf and Davenport towns in Iowa. So very specific unique micro region. This is a unique pizza because first of all, the crust has a very heavy dose of malt in it, which makes it a very, a darker cross. It looks like it's almost been burned, although it hasn't been. It's very malty, very chewy. It has spices actually mixed into the crust, which I find quite delicious, and the sauce thin and spicy and it has a double-ground version of sausage put onto it. So you put the sausage on top of the sauce, then you bake it and the pizza is actually cut into long strips using these gigantic razor-sharp scissors. It's a delicious pizza. Unfortunately you really won't find it outside of the Quad Cities region. But if you do well-worth sampling, hang in there Citizens, we're almost to the end. Now, last three, the Colorado mountain pie, which is so specific, so micro, regional, it's only found in one pizzeria chain in Colorado. But this thing is a beast. It's been around since 1973 and the pizza is so big, it's sold by weight . One, two, three or even five pounds topped with these ginormous amounts of ingredients. Hand-rolled crust dipped in honey for dessert. Uh , so again, a very unique super micro regional style. Talking about big, there's also the DC jumbo pizza. So since about 1997 pizzerias in the DC area have been duking it out about who can make the biggest pizza. These things are huge, at least 30 inches wide, typically required two plates to transport and they are, they're just huge. Go there if you're hungry. And last but not least, the most micro regional style of pizza on the planet started in 1974 as a fundraising project by St. Anthony's Catholic church in Youngstown, Ohio. You'll only get this there . Round pies are cooked in pans and covered with a thick sauce before their topped with bell peppers and Romano cheese. A hot variety is also available and even one top with eggs. So Citizens, as you can tell, there is a lot more to pizza than just your two basic regional styles plus Neapolitan. There's a lot of different kinds of pizza. So now that you've had a chance to get absorbed into the pizza culture, first of all, all the recipes for these types of pizzas are available on thefooddictator.com just do a quick search on pizza. You'll find the basic recipes for how to make the right crust, a couple of different regional styles as well. I think you'll be very, very happy indeed with it. So moving forward, let's talk about how to make the best possible pizza. If you're going to be a pizza pro at home, there are some basic tools that you're going to need to make homemade pizza that is good or better than anything you'll have elsewhere. So for the most basic equipment, you need to start off with a pizza peel and a cutter. You absolutely need a pizza peel to move that pizza in and out of the oven. It's going to be super hot and you can find good pizza peels all over Amazon. I make a recommendation on the site if you'd like to click it. A pizza cutter, of course, is necessity. Again, my choice is available on the site, so now I'll ask all of the Citizens of TFD Nation a fundamental first question, what is the most important ingredient in making a pizza? Take your time. I'll wait. If you said dough, cheese or sauce, you're wrong. The most important ingredient in pizza is heat blistering ninth circle of hell level temperatures that can hit a minimum of 550 degrees Fahrenheit and up to 1000 degrees. Without great heat there can ipso facto be no great pizza. It is simple as that. Most home ovens can't reach anywhere near the temperature that you need to get a good pizza, but they can reach it with a little bit of help. In this case that help comes from a pizza stone or a pizza steel. What, you've never heard of a pizza steel? It's the newest way to get your oven super blazing hot and it blows away the older pizza stone method by a mile. So I'll quote the actual creator of the baking steel. My thoughts are never far from creating the perfect crust as fate would have it . One day I was reading pieces of modernist cuisine by Nathan Myrvold in his book. Nathan stated that the best tool to use for making the perfect crust would be a piece of steel and that my friends was my aha moment. As soon as I could, I hustled out to our plant, found a piece of quarter inch high quality steel and brought it home for some testing. According to modernist cuisine , steel is a more conductive cooking surface than a brick oven stone and because of that conductivity, it cooks faster and more evenly at a lower temperature resulting in a beautiful thin, crispy crust. Citizens . You need one of these unless you're lucky enough to have the next bit of kit in your possession. You can get a baking steel find the link on TFD . Now if you've got the cash, nothing beats this next bit of equipment which can reach temperatures of 900 degrees plus. It's called the roccbox and it's designed to basically run on propane. We can even run it on wood as well, and there is a link on the website again where you can buy that. The roccbox is spelled R, O, C, C, B , O. X. So once you've got one of those, you're really ready to make a killer pizza. So now that we have the heat out of the way, let's talk about the dough, shall we ? First off, you may have heard of a special kind of flour used by Italian chefs to make their pizza. It's called double zero flour. It's a very fine mill with very high gluten and yes, for those of you who are gluten free, I'm afraid you do need gluten and lots of it to make the best pizza crust. However, unless you have a roccbox or you're grilling outdoors on a big green egg or a similar high end product that can reach a thousand degrees plus, you actually don't want to use double zero flour. And that's something that a lot of recipes make a tremendous mistake on. Double zero flour actually doesn't work well at lower temperatures, so unless you've got a 600 degree oven going, you can and actually should use high-gluten regular flour instead. Now the best pizza dough by far in my humble opinion, is one that's been fermented in the fridge for two to three days, just like a sourdough, because it is a sourdough. The structure and taste of the crust is dramatically improved this way and while it means you need to plan ahead for your pizza, trust me Citizens, it's worth it and I'll share that recipe for you on the website. It is available. Just do a quick search. However, I do recognize that not all of us have the time or patience to wait. So I will instead also share with you a legendary recipe for pizza dough from 13 time world pizza champion. Tony Gemminiani that you can use within 10 hours. Now as to hand tossing the dough in the air. That of course is the finest way to do things, but most of us will just end up dropping the dough or losing control of it in the air and that's just no fun for anybody. Now if you are manually dexterous , there is a video link on my website that shows you how to properly toss the pizza. It's an optional, not a mandatory step. Lastly, I want to share with you a secret tip that I've used for years to make the most delicious tasting pizzas and I've kept very close to the vest, but I'll now share with the Citizens of TFD nation. So if you want to add a smoky umami flavor to your pizza , it's not obvious, but it is truly awesome nonetheless. Spread a thin layer of melted bacon fat across the dough before adding your sauce. It's not going to taste bacony . No one will recognize it as bacon, but again, that umami flavor just gets mixed in with the sauce and it just makes for a tremendously delicious pizza. Now as to pizza sauce, you want to remember when you're making pizza, that water slash liquid is the truest and worst enemy of pizza and it gives you a soggy slice. That's when you pick the pizza up and it falls and droops over like a broken back. As a result, my sauce is very thick and very rich to avoid this very issue. Now you always want to remember that you need to use less sauce than you think, not more. Remember that virtually all of the flavor of your pizza is coming from the sauce, so you want to make it as flavorful as possible and mine certainly fits that bill, but again, remember less, not more when it comes to sauce. Now for cheese, again, a classic mistake is to think that you need to use fresh mozzarella, preferably very expensive mozzarella made from a water buffaloes milk straight from Italy. Now if you're making a classic Neapolitan pie, yes, by all means, you should use this cheese - very, very sparingly as its water content is very high. Indeed, the slices of mozzarella that you use should be very, very thin and used judiciously. Listen carefully, Citizens - in any other style of pizza, don't use it. What you actually want to use instead is what's called low moisture mozzarella or dry mozzarella. This is where so many homemade pizzas go wildly, wildly wrong because by using standard mozzarella on the pie, you get a gooey, watery mess. Dry mozzarella is easily available at any supermarket. I personally like the Polly-O brand, but use whatever you'd like. Now some pro tips on making pizza that I found that were noted by chef Mario Batali. First, don't overtop your pie and this is great advice when it comes to toppings, simplicity is best. Don't overdress it. Extra cheese pie? No bueno. Choose a few quality ingredients. Mozzarella in season tomatoes, fresh basil, practice restraint when decorating your crust and of course that goes for the sauce as well. Don't let the great dough that you've created get lost under a mound of mozzarella. Second trick, and this is a really good piece of advice, poach your ingredients for the toppings in olive oil. This is a trick that restaurant kitchens have been using for a long time and it makes a huge difference. Plus it couldn't be easier. You simply poach your ingredients slowly and olive oil. Don't let the oil get too hot or smoke, and you could put things like garlic or Fresno chilies in the oil, which of course possibilities are endless. Not only will your toppings be more unctuous and rich tasting, you also get some great flavored olive oil out of the deal. Total win-win. Next top with torn fresh herbs, you will never see an Italian grandmother chopping herbs. Rather than hack at a bunch of basil. Just tear it gently with your hands over the finished pie. The herbs won't get bruised and you'll have a fresher, better pizza. Now with all of that out of the way, you are now armed and ready to become the finest pizzalolo if you're a man or pizzaola if you're a woman in all the land. So I hope you've enjoyed this particular discussion of pizza, how to make it and remember Citizens. The recipes are all on www.thefooddictator.com. If you'd like to learn more, visit us there. Follow us on our website. You can also join our Facebook page, which of course is the food dictator. You can follow us on Instagram. Again, the food dictator, Pinterest, unsurprisingly the food dictator and Twitter. This is different. It's @GustoMaximus, G, U, S, T, O, M. A. X. I, M, U. S. and you can also follow us on Yummly and plenty of other places. But one way or the other, Citizens, pizza is truly one of God's great gifts to mankind and I hope you have a renewed appreciation for its diversity and the best ways to make it based on this podcast. So until next time, Citizens be good, be excellent, be awesome. Thank you so much my Citizens, and we'll talk to you soon.

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