One day last week while watching Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Pizza, I changed my dinner menu and took the pizza peel off the wall.
I like to use part all-purpose or “00” flour(specially milled for pizza and pasta available here Toscano and Sons Italian Market if you live in the Atlanta area) and about 1/4 semolina for texture and ‘tooth’ for my crust. If you have never made your own crust, get some flour and yeast and try it. You’ll never go back to store-bought again. If you own a food processor, it couldn’t be easier! Trust me. Some recipes call for olive oil, others don’t. For this particular pizza venture, my inspiration was from John’s Of Bleecker Street who demonstrated, so no olive oil today, just water, flour and yeast and a blazing hot pizza stone waiting in the oven.
At our house we like both thin and thick crust, but mostly I make the thin crust, largely due to the calorie count. I made the dough, let it rise all afternoon in the refrigerator and made the pizza for dinner that evening.
Following the methods I had seen demonstrated on the cooking show, I reversed the order as I added ingredients to see how different the result might be. The pizzeria chef began with a sprinkling of olive oil, then mozzarella cheese, roughly grated (or torn from a ball of fresh mozzarella), then added ingredients and here’s where the BIG difference came- he added the tomato sauce last! And he didn’t add nearly the amount you and I usually encounter.
Just so you know what you are looking at, my extra ingredients were pepperoni slices, parmesan cheese, and an egg and torn basil leaves(both of these last two added during the last 5 minutes of cooking).
Well, the results were just spectacular- a real symphony of flavor to the taste buds. The reversed order of the additions kept a layer of ‘stuff’ between the crust and tomato sauce, thereby keeping the sauce from softening and soggy-ing the crust. The edges were crisp like a cracker and the flavors melded, just like a good orchestra does. To complete the meal, a simple green salad with vinaigrette and a beer to wash it all down.
With each bite, we were transported to Le Saleya, a tiny restaurant in Nice, France that opens to the Cours Saleya flower market where we experienced our first real pizza. One where no single ingredient predominates, but each contributes to the whole. It’s a wonderful symphony, indeed. One I never tire of hearing the crunch of.