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Perfecting the Pizza
By Grace Parisi
After my grandfather moved from Sicily to Brooklyn, he opened several restaurants, including a small pizzeria. I remember him twirling pizza dough in his famously showy fashion. I’ve worked hard to develop a pie that would meet his standards, and after dozens of attempts with myriad cheese, tomato and flour varieties, I’ve finally done it. Mine is a Neapolitan-style pie with a chewy-yet-crisp crust, a well-seasoned raw tomato sauce and fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese.
Kitchen-Tested Pizza Essentials
Best Manufacturing Peel
Dough sticks less to wood than metal; this peel is ideal for a home oven ($27; williams-sonoma.com).
Bufalus Buffalo Mozzarella
We sampled a dozen mozzarellas; this won out for its tangy, salty flavor (available at Whole Foods).
Fibrament Baking Stone
This cement stone yields crispy crusts and is more durable than ceramic ($53; bakingstone.com).La Valle San Marzano Tomatoes
These triumphed in our taste test for their fresh, extra-ripe flavor (lavallefoodsusa.com).
This link (cut and paste) shows about a 10 minute video on how this product is made - very interesting process.
Tutto Calabria Oregano
This dried oregano comes on the branch and is more flavorful than bottled ($4; 212-633-9090).
Typhoon Pizza Slicer
This mezzaluna-style cutter is easier to control than wheel cutters ($18; typhoonus.com).
Perfect Pizza Margherita
ACTIVE TIME: 45 MIN
TOTAL TIME: 2 HRS plus overnight resting
MAKES FOUR 13-INCH PIZZAS
Letting the dough rest in the refrigerator overnight, I found, results in a chewy crust with a slight tang. I’ve let mine sit for up to three days, which adds even more texture and complexity.
1 envelope active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (90° to 105°)
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
One 14-ounce can peeled whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 pounds buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced
32 large basil leaves, torn into pieces
MAKE THE DOUGH: In a large bowl, mix the yeast with 1/2 cup of the warm water and the sugar and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of warm water, the 4 cups of flour and the kosher salt and stir until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and knead, adding flour as necessary until a silky, but soft dough forms. Use a pastry scraper to help knead the dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl and brush all over with olive oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface; punch down and divide into 4 pieces. Form each piece into a ball. Rub each ball with oil and transfer to a baking sheet. Cover the balls loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a draft-free place for 1 hour.
PREPARE THE TOPPINGS: Meanwhile, set a pizza stone in the oven and preheat the oven to 500°, allowing at least 45 minutes for the stone to heat. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill set over a medium bowl or pulse them in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Stir in the oregano and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper.
On a lightly floured surface, stretch one ball of dough into a 13-inch round; transfer to a floured pizza peel, adding flour where the dough sticks. Spread 1/4 cup of the tomato sauce over the dough to within 1 inch of the edge. Spread one-fourth of the cheese over the pizza and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of oil. Season with sea salt and pepper and slide the pizza onto the stone. Bake until the bottom is charred and the cheese is melted, about 8 minutes. Scatter one-fourth of the basil on top and let stand for 3 minutes before serving. Repeat with the remaining dough and toppings.
Recipe by Grace Parisi
From Perfecting the Pizza
This recipe originally appeared in March, 2007.