Monday, March 3, 2014

New York Style Pizza

New York Style Pizza

It is no secret that New York style pizza is the most loved pizza in the world!  I have had lots of questions about pizza making from those wanting to learn how to make it in their own homes.   I have decided to write this post to share my New York Style Pizza making secrets with you and give you some tips to help you make the best pizza you ever had. 

Being a New Yorker, I always took pizza for granted.  Jersey and Connecticut also had great pizza, but it wasn't until I left the tri-state area for vacations and other trips did I realize how different pizza was in other areas.

In fact, once I was away on a business trip in Missouri and some of the folks that I met up with were raving about a great pizzeria a town away that had this amazing New York style pizza.   I was doubtful, but went along with the group and traveled on a lunch break to the restaurant. Sure enough, there were signs all over stating that the specialty of the pizzeria was Authentic New York Style Pizza.  So, we ordered a few pies and grabbed a table.

In NY, most pizzerias use Baker's Pride ovens that are lined with bricks on the floor of the oven.

Baker's Pride New York Style Pizza Oven
New York Style Pizza Oven
The oven in the Missouri Pizzeria was a really nice looking brick oven pizza with a fire in it.   I was like wow, I am going to be in for a treat.   But after what would seem to be an eternity to wait, we finally got our alleged New York Style Pizza pies.   I have to tell you that it was some of the worst pizza I ever had, yet the people I was with thought it was amazing.   The people I was with came from Missouri, Texas, Florida and Alabama.   I was the only actual New Yorker in the crew, so I guess they didn't have much to compare it to.

When I got back to New York, I talked my friend Johnny, who owned a pizzeria.   We were discussing pizza and what people are calling New York Style pizza in other states.  He told me that he believed it was the water in the NY Tri-State area that makes pizza much better here.  I was not quite convinced, though.

As an experiment, I tried to make a New York Style pizza using bottled spring water.   The pizza came out just fine, so it would only make sense that if the water wasn't good where you are, you can make pizza with spring water in the dough.   Logic would have it then that you can make New York style pizza anywhere.

I decided to help folks make authentic New York style pizza in their own homes.  I have made videos on how to make grandma pizza with my no knead dough, but when people think about pizza, they think about the standard Neapolitan round pizza.   For a round thin crust New York Style Pizza, I would recommend not using the no knead dough as it is too soft and will not stretch out easily.  Instead, use this NY Pizza Dough.

Once you have the correct dough and quality ingredients, you are off to a good start.   But, the one problem you face is that you don't have that Baker's Pride oven in your house!   That oven gets really hot, much hotter than a standard consumer oven that someone would have in their house.  So, how do we get around this issue and still have excellent results for our New York Style pizza?

The first thing you need is a bread stone.   Here are a few bread stones that I really like:

The reason I like those particular stones is that they are thicker than some of the other stones out there and hold the heat better. 

Another thing I would recommend getting is some pizza pans with hole in them, or pizza screens.  These are the ones that I recommend:

The reason for the holes is so that air and heat can get to the underside of the pizza and crisp up the crust on the bottom.   Sure, you can put the New York Style pizza directly on the stone, and that would work fine.   To do that, you would need a Pizza Peel.

But, using a screen or pan with holes will make your life much easier.   And yes, many NY Pizzerias use the screens, too.  I have seen people in pizzerias assemble the pizza on the screen and put the screen in the oven.   After the pizza is about half way cooked, they sometimes choose to remove the screen and place the pizza directly on the stone.   You can do that, too, although it is not necessary to make New York Style Pizza.

To see my New York Style Pizza secrets in action, watch this video:

The secret to making this New York Style Pizza in your oven at home is to get the stone hot enough.   That is where people mess up.   The Baker's Pride oven gets much hotter than your oven will bake.   How do we achieve that high temperature in your home oven?  By putting the stone on a high rack and pre-heating it with the broiler.   That will get your stone really hot, definitely higher than the 500 degrees that is probably your maximum baking temperature.

After pre-heating your stone with the broiler, shut off the broiler and switch over to baking at 450 degrees.   The stone will retain the heat at above 500, toasting the bottom of the pizza.  The pizza will have a nice crispy crust on the bottom, not soggy.  But it will not be like a cracker, either.

Another question I get asked a lot  is what kind of flour to use.   Simple All Purpose Flour!   Most of the pizzerias in New York get Pilsbury's Best All Purpose Flour.   Not bread flour, not cake flour.  Now, since I like to cook with organic ingredients, I get organic all purpose white flour when I can.  I have used standard white flour with great results, too.

Sauce is another place people go wrong.   Most of the time, the put too much.   Moisture is not a good thing when it comes to making pizza, so too much sauce can make a soggy pie.   People also put too much oregano or other spices in the sauce, too! 

Try this:  Get yourself a can of organic diced tomatoes and drain them in a colander to remove excess fluid.  Instead of sauce, put the tomatoes on the pizza. You don't have to cook them first, trust me!  Add some chopped garlic and fresh basil and you will have the best pizza you ever had.   Sprinkle some Parmesan or Romano cheese and some Mozzarella and forget about it!  You get the idea.

I hope that the tips that I presented here help you get awesome results making New York Style Pizza in your home, regardless of where you live.    If you watch the video and do what I did with quality ingredients, you will have great results, too!