Author Topic: THE SMOKE EFFECT  (Read 1420 times)

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Offline TONY

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« on: January 16, 2006, 02:23:51 PM »
I’ve been making pizza at home for several years now, a lot more (about 1 a week) since I found this web site.  I’ve tried just about everything, different dough mixes using various flours  (including starter culture) different bake temps, various toppings including San Marzano tomatoes, Grande cheese etc. Etc…………..I’m pretty happy with the pizza I can produce thus far, good crumb, taste, and texture.   But they’re seems to be something missing.  It’s that pizzeria taste I just can’t put my finger on it.  The only thing that I cannot duplicate is a commercial pizza oven.  I’ve been to several pizzerias.  One in particular I can recall is Vincent’s in Pittsburg Pa.  There are several in Pittsburgh.  The one I visited was like an assembly line.  The girl was producing a pie about every few minutes.  She would pull the dough/disc from the proof box throw it on a floured table, flip it once or twice using her fists to stretch the dough to shape (which was sometimes round, and sometimes not)…. she would then quickly spread one or two ladles of sauce on the pie (depending on the size). Then she would pick up as much cheese as she could with two hands and practically throw it on the pie.  She did the same for the rest of whatever topping that was ordered.  There was cheese, and topping all over the place, not only in and around the center of the pie but on the outer crust as well, (so when you got your pie there was burnt cheese and topping on the crust).  She then scooped it up with the peel and when she opened the oven door smoke came billowing out.  After several minutes she rotated the pies.  Several minutes more, mine was finally done.  They don’t use boxes there cause the pies are too big to fit.  They use pieces of cardboard and staple white paper over the pie to the cardboard.  When I finally got that baby home and opened it………..pure heaven………..even with the burnt topping on the crust, burnt flour and topping stuck to the bottom, it was the best pie I’ve ever eaten.  So……… was it the smoke???  All that cheese, flour and topping falling off the pies as they were being moved around inside the oven………… burning and creating all that smoke????  Does the smoke have the same effect on a pizza as on a grilled hamburger verses one that is fried in a pan?????

Offline scott r

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« Reply #1 on: January 17, 2006, 04:19:40 AM »
Although I now live in Boston I grew up in Pittsburgh and have been to Vincent's many times.  I have been on a mission to try as many pizzerias as I can around the US including all the famous places like Pepe's, Sally's, Grimaldi's, Totono's, Lombardi's, Una Pizza Napoletana, and many many more.  Vincent's is absolutely right up there with all the greats in my book.  The reason you are having trouble getting something of that quality is that you are comparing to a pizza that is in my opinion one of the top 5 in the United States.  Anybody, with even the best commercial oven is going to have a damn hard time producing anything close to the quality of Vincent's.

Here are a few things I have heard about the pies that you might want to try.

Molasses in the dough.  Just a little.

Long fermentation time for the dough possibly all at room temp, and probably not as individual dough balls, but in bulk.

A blend of provolone and mozzarella, mostly mozzarella.  This is HIGH QUALITY cheese and truly amazing.  I think it is the tastiest processed cheese I have found anywhere.  I have tried at least 20 brands of cheese myself and nothing I can get my hands on comes close.  If you feel like peeking in a dumpster for me to find out the brand I would be in heaven.

A 650 degree oven that is never cleaned.

And yes, I think the smoke from Vincent's madman pie making style absolutely flavors the pie! I am glad to hear he has trained his employees at the new locations to throw them together like he does.

Offline Sacs

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« Reply #2 on: January 22, 2006, 05:54:05 AM »
Funny, I've been wondering the same thing about the "smoke effect". The best tasting pizza I ever made was about 2 months ago. Some of the cheese escaped off of the pizza and onto the pizza stone when it was in the oven cooking. It made a pretty big mess and a ton of smoke,  but it was the best tasting pizza I ever made. I actually thought about experimenting with somehow burning a little bit of cheese in the oven on purpose while the pizza bakes.

Offline ZekeTheCat

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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2006, 09:26:00 AM »
Kraft makes a Smokey Cheddar cheese that I've occasionally used in small amounts blended in with the other cheese toppings- It gives a smokey flavor that is pretty good. You might try it - most larger supermarkets, Wal Mart etc carry it.

Offline Lydia

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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2006, 01:47:12 PM »
There was a topic LONG time ago about dirty ovens making the best tasting pizza.

Yes, smoke adds a wonderful characteristics. My family is crazy over pizza made on grill with mesquite charcoal. The flavor gets absorbed by everything (toppings, cheese, sauce and crust).

I was traveling to visit a friend who I'd promised to make some of my pizzas, but the oven was old and filthy. I cleaned it as best I could, but at the higher temps. it smoked horribly. But the pizza was incredible. It took me a while to figure out it was the smokey stove and not the smoked provelone OR the smokey pepperonis OR the fresh roasted red peppers in the sauce.
The roundest knight at King Arthur's round table was Sir Cumference.They say he acquired his size from eating too much pi.