Denying pizza its presence in the podium of the most popular dishes in the world it would be absurd. It is difficult to find a country in the world where there is no pizzeria, with more or more success, or, above all, with more or less fidelity to what an Italian would understand by pizza.
Fast food icon -which does not necessarily mean bad food-, photogenic on Instagram and one of the kitchen queens at home, pizza is a win-win culinary that everyone likes. Or at least I have not yet found anyone who does not like, food intolerances aside.
A cereal dough (usually wheat, but there are options with rice, soy or buckwheat), tomato sauce (passata, if we get purist), cheese (mozzarella or fior di latte, this is non-negotiable) and from there raise the building.
Honest, simple, direct and easy to do at home, pizza is as appreciative as it is undemanding to make it right and so attractive that it dazzles at any age. However, improving it has more science than it seems.
We embark on this task today by asking various pizzaioli and chefs italians that have Raised the bar for this product to the place it deserves. Say goodbye to the pizza delivery battles, overloaded with yeast doughs and with half a deli on top. Therefore, today we are going to discover that in pizza terms ‘less is more’.
In the kitchen of Directo al Paladar: How to make the best PIZZA at home with Miguel Ayuso
The four mistakes that weighed down my pizzas (and no longer do)
Make a homemade pizza from scratch not complicated, but laborious If we also embark on the task of the dough, which is not difficult, as we have shown you on more than one occasion, but it takes time.
Just have to take into account a maxim, applicable to everything that has to do with levies. The shorter the fermentation and the more yeast a dough has, the more indigestible it will be. Short fermentations prevent the dough from rising on its own, which is why yeast is abused to make breads, cakes or doughs quickly.
A good pizza dough, whether in the Neapolitan style like that of Grosso Napoletano or Bel Mondo, in the casertano style like that of Fratelli Figurato or a pinsa like those of El Bacaro by Fabio or Premiata Forneria Ballaro, long enough for it to ferment correctly -some more and others less-, making it tastier and also more digestive, although there we also enter the field of flours.
Today we do not pretend that your home ovens become a trattoria, nor that you have wood ovens capable of reaching 400 °, but you do have certain care so that, even with a pizza base from the supermarket, your bite will take you to the Beautiful Italy.
The pork meat dilemma
Let’s diversify into two types of cold cuts: cooked and cured because both worlds are totally opposite when it comes to transferring them to a pizza and it matters a lot when we add them to our base.
“It is not the same to add salted and cured cold cuts than adding cooked sausages, “he explains Angelo Marino, chef and owner of Premiata Forneria Ballaro (Madrid) and Pinsa Mother (Rota, Cádiz). “In any case, there are few sausages that hold up well in the oven,” he continues.
“Those who have a lot of salt or a lot of fat should be tempered and put on the pizza already out of the oven “, he assures leaving some margin for some exceptions.” In our case some products such as a thinly cut chorizo are put in the oven, because it is crunchy, or the nduja “, he clarifies.
“If we add the sausage to the oven the fat dries too much and the pizza is salty“he adds Fabio Gasparini, chef of Fabio’s Bacaro. “Iberian ham, speck or anchovies must always be added out of the oven because if they do not give a lot of taste to salt,” he says.
Something that not only happens to cured products, but also to other more delicate sausages or those with a high percentage of fat. Vittorio Figurato, co-founder with his brother Riccardo from the pizzeria Fratelli Figurato (chosen by Top Pizza as the best in Spain and among the ten best in Europe in 2020) indicates other ingredients that for delicacy or flavor it is better to add later.
“A good prosciutto or a mortadella have to be added later, so that they get a little temperature or the mortadella undo its fat a bit “, he illustrates while he qualifies an element of his pizzas that does go into the oven. so that it sweats a little and takes some crunchiness, “he clarifies.
“The salami should always be added at the end, With some exceptions, such as cooked ham, which does not feel bad in the oven, but when cured should not go in the oven, because it tends to dry out “, Ciro also advises.
Problems with mozzarella
Surely more than once you have wanted to Italianize your pizza and have resorted to the typical supermarket mozzarella and you have seen that the result is far from what the ads advocate. It melts little, releases too much liquid and the texture is far from becoming that elegant base we were looking for. However, it has a solution.
Vittorio Figurato talks about this. “It’s hard to find a good mozzarella but I I recommend using fior di latte [un queso similar pero solo con leche de vaca]It is softer and also the mozzarella leaves a lot of milk. We cut it into strips and let it drain because if it doesn’t release too much liquid, “he explains.
Something that Fabio Gasparini also tells us. “The normal supermarket mozzarellas they have less flavor and a lot of water. Therefore, if we want to make the base of a pizza with them, we have to let it drain. “We can cut it into slices and leave it in a colander for a couple of days in the fridge, so that it loses the water,” he explains.
The cheese war
Three cheeses, four, five, -or whatever it takes-. We know that it is a rich, demanded and quite versatile pizza but it also has its little mysteries. Gasparini reveals a couple of them: “I prefer to add the cheeses cut into squares, cold, before putting the pizza in the oven because then in my mouth I want to feel each different cheese“Taking as an example a pizza in which he uses taleggio cheese and spicy gorgonzola.
The other secret has to do with more mature or dry cheeses. “I use a 24-month-old Parmesan, which we grate before the oven because that way it is easier for it to melt, “he illustrates. Something that Vittorio Figurato also does, although he works different pizzas in which the times of the Parmesan vary, depending on what you want from it.
“In the margarita we put it before the oven, so that it melts, but in the Diego Armando, as we want some texture, we put it later”, he clarifies. However, ** in both cases, use grating Parmesan ** and never add it in pieces or flakes because it is harder and less tender.
All these grating guidelines can be applied to different cheeses, such as grana padano, pecorino, idiazábal or a Manchego cheese, which are Ripe, dry and non-melting cheeses but they do have a lot of flavor. There are exceptions, of course, like the one Angelo Marino mentions when betting on a ricotta.
In that battle it also indicates the need to reduce the intensity of some cheeses, depending on our palates. “We can add a gorgonzola like blue cheese, which is not the most intense, but we can reduce their strength by mixing them for example with a fior di latte“, culminates.
We finish the phase of the details with the cheeses, generally intense or heavy pizzas, with a tip from Vittorio Figurato. “On the cheese pizzas add a few drops of lemon after the oven because the acid contrasts well and lightens them. ”
Ciro also speaks of that battle. “You can’t put a burrata in the oven because its creaminess is lost and the cream would become a swimming pool, “he says, smiling as he confirms that the ingredient that cannot be supported in a pizza is cream:” because of its flavor, it will make the pizza lose its balance. “
“The Neapolitan pizza must be a union between dough and seasoning”, explains Ciro, who works in Bel Mondo a less conventional Neapolitan pizza format, since their doughs rest for a minimum of 30 hours. “On average they are about 36 hours but sometimes we have them up to more than 40 hours,” he exemplifies. A process that allows them to be more digestive and lighter. “A good pizza is one that you eat at night and after three hours you are not thirsty because the pizza has become heavy.” account.
“The quantity of ingredients should not be exaggerated,” illustrates Angelo Marino. “The key is in the balance between quantity and cooking. A small pizza should weigh between 150 and 180 grams, “he adds.
“If we add a lot of toppings, the pizza traps the moisture from the elements and it cooks because it has a lot of water and a lot of weight“, it affects. A problem that is often repeated in homemade pizzas, especially if we use the classic frozen bases that support more weight and are overcooked.
“The pizza has to be light, have a point of crunch and not that sensation of cooked”, Angelo preaches, who also claims in the artisan pizzas to the reviled edge. “The edge well done is the best of a pizza, that is light and crisp. The problem is that people are used to heavy edges, of mass, and not well-worked edges, “he laments.
The nine ingredients to take a pizza to the next level
Leaving the jack, horse and king is not easy but mixing or innovation never hurts. In this case, we asked our interviewees what curious ingredients they like to add to their pizzas or how we can take our homemade pizzas to a higher step.
From using the oven for other purposes to taking advantage of seasonal green leaves, passing through more original sausages, from some greasy touches or to take advantage of the freshness of some products their kitchens are, and surely yours, full.