Recently, I decided to conduct some tests to attempt to decipher the three-cheese blend that Papa Gino’s uses on its pizzas. As previously mentioned, the few times that I had Papa Gino’s pizzas, I could not detect the flavor of the cheddar cheese or the Romano cheese. Later, after analyzing the PG Nutrition Facts, I came to the conclusion (previously noted) that it was likely that PG was using mainly mozzarella cheese for the blend, with considerably lower amounts of cheddar cheese and Romano cheese. It is also possible that PG is using a low- or reduced-fat version of its cheddar cheese. Whereas a typical low-moisture part skin (LMPS) mozzarella cheese (which is the type of mozzarella cheese that PG says it uses) has a total fat content of about 6 grams per ounce, it is about 9 grams for regular cheddar cheese (and around 7.5 grams per ounce for grated Romano cheese). Similarly, the cholesterol value of one ounce of a typical LMPS mozzarella cheese is about 15-20 mg, whereas it is around 25-30 mg for regular cheddar cheese (and around 30 mg for a typical grated Romano cheese). If I am right in my analysis, to satisfy the PG Nutrition Facts, the fat and cholesterol values can’t be too high.
For my analysis, I assumed that PG uses 10 ounces of the cheese blend for a basic 14” cheese pizza. To arrive at the 10-ounce figure, I calculated the weight of such a pizza from the PG Nutrition facts and then factored in what else we know about weights of dough and sauce for that size pizza. In so doing, I relied on what I was told by PG (via an email exchange) about the weights of their pizzas, specifically, that the weights of their pizzas are unbaked pizza weights. On that basis, an unbaked PG cheese pizza weighs 8 x 113 grams = 904 grams, or about 32 ounces. We know that the dough ball weight for a 14” PG pizza is 16 ounces, and I was previously told by a PG worker that the amount of sauce for a 14” PG pizza is 6 ounces. That is by volume but 6 ounces of sauce by volume will not weigh much more than 6 ounces, maybe around 6.1 ounces. So, if we do the math, 32-16-6.1 = 9.9 ounces, or about 10 ounces for the cheese blend. There may be some slight variations in this number because of variations in the weights of the dough balls made at the PG commissary for the 14” PG pizzas. Also, there is cornmeal that ends up in the dough balls (about a fraction of an ounce).
For purposes of my tests, I made up several (five) samples of cheese blends with different ratios of LMPS mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese. I did not attempt to factor in the Romano cheese for these tests since adding a third variable would unduly complicate the tests. For my purposes, I used the Crystal Farms brand of LMPS mozzarella cheese and cheddar cheese. I was hoping to find a mild cheddar cheese but the closest I could find at my local supermarket was the medium cheddar cheese. Also, it was orange. That is because of the addition of annatto color. However, nutritionally and from a taste standpoint, a cheddar cheese with the annatto orange color is the same as one without the annatto orange color.
There was nothing overly scientific about my tests. There are many different brands of LMPS mozzarella cheeses and cheddar cheeses (and also Romano cheeses) with different price points, different nutritional compositions, and different flavor profiles. Also, the overall tastes of the cheese blends might be different without the Romano cheese than with it. What I was trying to divine is a ballpark ratio of the LMPS and cheddar cheese. So, with this objective in mind, I made up the following samples of LMPS mozzarella-medium cheddar cheese blends, each weighing 2 ounces. To measure out the two-ounce samples, I used my large digital scale to weigh out to full grams and my small digital scale to weigh out the fractional grams (with 0.1 gram accuracy):
50/50 = 1oz LMPS* + 1oz cheddar** = 28.35g LMPS + 28.35g cheddar
60/40 = 1.2oz LMPS + 0.8oz cheddar = 34g LMPS + 22.7g cheddar
70/30 = 1.4oz LMPS + 0.6oz cheddar = 39.7g LMPS + 17g cheddar
80/20 = 1.6oz LMPS + 0.4oz cheddar = 45.4g LMPS + 11.34g cheddar
90/10 = 1.8oz LMPS + 0.2oz cheddar = 51g LMPS + 5.7g cheddar
* Crystal Farms LMPS: 1oz contains 6g Total Fat, 4g Sat Fat, 20mg Cholesterol and 180mg Sodium
** Crystal Farms medium cheddar (with annatto color): 1oz contains 9g Total Fat, 4g Sat fat, 30mg Cholesterol and 180mg Sodium
I conducted several taste tests of the above blends, rinsing my mouth out with water after each tasting. When I was done, I concluded that the blend that was the closest match was the 90/10 blend. By “closest match”, I mean that I could no longer taste the cheddar cheese. In all the other samples, I could still taste the cheddar cheese. It did occur to me that maybe a cooked blend of the two cheeses would have a different taste profile than the raw cheese blend, but I assumed (correctly or incorrectly) that if I could not taste the cheddar cheese in a cooked cheese blend I would be unlikely to taste it in a raw cheese blend. I also acknowledged that a medium cheddar cheese has a more pronounced flavor than a mild version of cheddar cheese. At some point, I should be able to find a mild cheddar cheese to test out along the same lines as above. However, such a test should be easier to conduct since I now have a pretty good idea of what test ratio to start with. I might also purchase a grated Romano cheese or else use my Pecorino Romano cheese even if it is likely to have a much more pronounced taste than a commercial supermarket bottled grated Romano cheese. But, whatever comes out of my tests, a 90/10 ratio with a little Romano cheese makes sense to me, mainly because I have discovered that cheddar cheeses oil off considerably more than mozzarella cheeses, even whole-milk mozzarella cheeses. Since PG touts its concern over the fat content of its pizzas (see the first question and answer in the PG FAQ at http://www.papaginos.com/nutrition.html?topic=faq
), it is unlikely that PG wants to have a fatty looking oily film over its pizzas.
After arriving at the above conclusion on the 90/10 blend, I then ran some numbers on the Total Fat, Sat Fat and Cholesterol for that blend, using the values for these components from the labels of the two Crystal Farms cheeses. I also then added a Romano cheese component so that I could compare the final numbers with the PG Nutrition Facts. I concluded that I was somewhat higher with my numbers than the PG Nutrition Facts, but could get closer to the PG numbers by assuming a LMPS mozzarella cheese with lower fat and cholesterol values than those I used, and which is widely available both at retail and at the foodservice level. Using a reduced-fat cheddar cheese would help along those lines. I might add that when I was in my local supermarket, I saw two reduced-fat cheddar cheeses from Cabot, one with 50% fat reduction and another with 75% fat reduction. Of course, if I am wrong in my assumption and calculation of the amount of the cheese blend that PG uses, I would have to recalculate the numbers should we learn how much of the cheese blend PG actually uses on a 14” cheese pizza. All I know, from what I was told by the aforementioned PG worker, is that two portion cups scoops (he didn’t know the size of the portion cup) of the cheese blend are used for that size pizza.