Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ongoing Discussions About Food Icons: Pizza

As promised, we said we would show you pictures of our crack at  Wolfgang Puck’s Spicy Chicken Pizza
Spicy Chicken Pizza

We decided to make this pie because we tried a Puck Pizza at The MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas. To be honest we were expecting hype and no substance from a Wolfgang Puck signature restaurant but we really surprised at how good the pizza was. In fact, it was one of the best pizzas we ever tasted. Our homemade Puck pizza was also really good, a great combination of ingredients and flavors so try this recipe. Next time we wlll cut our toppings a little thicker.
Puck at home
Following Puck’s recipe we a learned a new trick so we decided to share with you some of our pizza making tips. 

Our favorite cookbook is Gennaro Contaldo’s, Passione. We follow his recipe for pizza dough but skimp on the flower and add some semolina to the dry mixture instead. We sometimes add some butter to the dry mixture, cubes that we work into the flour, a bit like making pastry dough. Use rapid rise yeast, it saves time and does not seem to make a difference with-regards to the flavor. We also add a bit of brown sugar to our dry mixt because it makes the yeast happy. We have also read that if you let your dough sit in your refrigerator for 24 hours the results and flavor will be better and we have found this to be true. 

Secrets to making a crisp pizza crust are with your sauce and the use of a pizza stone. We drain the liquid from our can of tomatoes. Squash the tomatoes with your hands in a colander, to get rid of all the liquid and use the solid tomatoes on your pizza. The liquid can be used for another dish and makes a great braising liquid. If you use too much  liquid your crust will be soggy, you need to use something thick. The Wolfgang Puck Pizza does not use a sauce but thin slices from plum tomatoes. This technique worked really well and we will use it again. 
When choosing your can of tomatoes check the sodium content. You would not believe how much salt are in some cans of tomatoes.
The second tip to crispy crust is to use a pizza stone in your oven. You can usually find pizza stones in kitchen liquidation stores and sale racks, I guess people do not make that much pizza at home or have not discovered how well they work. You preheat the stone in your oven and when we first started using a stone we realized there was a problem. How do you get the pizza onto the stone? Think about it, a floppy piece of dough covered in toppings. How do you lift  this onto your stone? I did see one of our Italian friends, who was making pizza for the first time, flip her pizzas like a Frisbee onto a piece of marble into her oven. She was using leftover marble tiles from her kitchen floor and technique must have been genetic and we have come up with a less dangerous solution. Make your pizza on parchment paper. Use enough paper so you can lift your pizza, a bit like a hammock. on the sides. You can then just place the paper and pizza on your stone. If you have one of those metal pizza pans (see photo below) you can put the paper and pizza in that to carry your pizza to the oven. You can use the parchment paper to slide your pizza off the metal pan and onto your stone.  The parchment paper also makes a great way to slide your pizza off of the pizza stone when it has finished cooking.

 Homemade masterpiece: Pizza with pork belly, prosciutto and arugula.
This pizza was inspired by one of the pies from Geppetto Pizza in Montreal.

Send us or post pictures of of your favorite pizzas whether homemade or from a restaurant and be sure to include some of your pizza cooking tips.

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