Greg switched to this recipe as soon as he read this article in the May – June 2015 issue of ZEST Magazine: How to Make a NEW YORK PIZZA by Bill Gloede, master pizzaiolo. Click through and read the article for more detailed and entertaining instructions on where to find specific ingredients in Maine. What follows is my stripped-down and restructured version.
For the dough
4 cups of either: high-gluten flour; bread flour; or a mix of “00” and all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups bottled water
2 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast (if using active yeast, let it bloom in half the water, heated to 110 degrees, for 10-15 minutes)
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon sugar
Put all the ingredients in the mixer bowl and, using the dough hook, ramp the speed up to medium-high and let it beat for at least five minutes but no more than 10, until the dough ball clears the sides of the bowl.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured cutting board, divide it in half, and make two balls by rolling the dough around on the board, carefully sealing up the seams.
Put each dough ball in a lightly oiled bowl big enough to allow it to double in size, cover with plastic wrap, and place in the fridge for 24 hours and up to several days.
For the Sauce
The first thing to know about pizza sauce is that it should not be cooked. It cooks on the pizza. That means you can’t use Grandma’s long-simmered Sunday Gravy on a pizza; it will taste burnt. And jarred sauces don’t work well either. What does work well is a product called 7/11, made by Stanislaus, which is the go-to pizza sauce in most New York joints. You can get it at Micucci Grocery in Portland, but it comes in a No. 10 can, which means you’ll have a lot left over even after your first dozen pizzas. Otherwise I recommend Pomi strained Italian tomatoes, which come in a carton and are available in most supermarkets. While the 7/11 can be used right from the can, I suggest doctoring the Pomi by sautéing two large, finely chopped garlic cloves in extra virgin olive oil for about a minute, then adding about a quarter cup of white wine and continuing the sauté until the alcohol has burned off, about another minute or two. Combine the mixture with the Pomi, add a teaspoon of sugar and maybe a couple of torn-up basil leaves.
2 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white wine
1 carton Pomi Italian strained tomatoes
2-3 basil leaves, shredded
1 teaspoon sugar
Sauté finely chopped garlic in oil until translucent, add wine, cook off alcohol. Add to the tomatoes, along with basil and sugar.
You’ll also need:
1, 16-oz. block whole-milk mozzarella
1, 16-oz. block part-skim mozzarella
Grated Romano cheese
Dried oregano flakes
By all means, if you can get to Micucci in Portland, pick up some Grande 50/50, a mix of shredded part- skim mozzarella and provolone cheeses. While I’m not a big fan of the mozzarella/provolone mix, which is more of a Midwestern thing, it’s ready to put on the pizza as-is, and is sufficiently higher in quality than any other retail cheese to make it worthwhile.
Otherwise, buy a 16-ounce block each of whole-milk and part-skim mozzarella. I get Galbani Sorrento brand at Hannaford and have even found Polly-O, the old standby in New York, at Wal-Mart. Put the cheese through the shredding attachment of your food processor, combine and mix up in a bowl.
Assembling the Pizza
When you are ready to make pizzas, preheat your oven to 500 degrees, with the pizza stone in place on the lowest rack, for about an hour.
Remove the dough balls from the fridge, let them sit out for 15 minutes or so, then get your pizza peel, dust it with a generous amount of semolina, put the dough ball on the peel, sprinkle more semolina over the top, and start pushing into the dough with your fingers, working from the center outward. Press it with the palms of your hands.
When it gets big enough to handle, pick up the dough and throw it back and forth between your hands a few times. Then hold it on your knuckles and begin stretching across between your hands, rotating the dough as you go, all the while letting gravity tug on the bottom of the dough.
When the diameter gets out to about 14 inches, lay the dough down on the peel, making sure there is plenty of semolina to keep it from sticking. To prevent the dough from separating when it hits the oven, pierce the dough liberally with a fork. This is called “docking” the dough, which prevents it from forming bubbles that push the sauce and cheese off to the side. If there’s a lot of humidity in the air, you’ll be glad you did this.
Sauce and Cheeses
Mix up the sauce, then ladle a thin layer onto your dough, working the ladle in a circular motion until you have coated—not loaded—the dough up to about a quarter of an inch from the edge. Now sprinkle some dried oregano over the sauced pizza (don’t overdo it!).
Now, lightly sprinkle some grated Romano cheese over the sauced pizza, then add the mozzarella—in a single layer! Good pizza is a less-is-more proposition. The reason the chains dump loads of cheese and toppings on their pizzas is because their pizzas and their ingredients are not very good.
One topping is good, two is less good but okay, three is pushing it and any more is just bad. Many real pizzaioli won’t put more than three toppings on a pizza—no matter what the customer wants.
Hopefully you’ve got enough semolina on the peel so the pizza slides right off, into the oven and onto the stone. Cook until the mozzarella settles down into the sauce and turns a light orange, somewhere around 10 minutes depending on your oven. Pull the pizza out of the oven, put it on your tray, cut it with your pizza wheel—and enjoy!