A little pizza my heart
Pizza is in the eye of the beholder.One of my favorite episodes of “Seinfeld” shows Kramer in a kitchen, learning to make pizza from Poppie. When Kramer tosses a handful of cucumbers on his pizza, Poppie goes berserk, leading the two to argue about what makes a real pizza.”It’s not a pizza until it comes out of the oven,” Kramer says.”It’s a pizza the moment you put your fists in the dough!” Poppie retorts.But the passion is real.Ask people what the definition of a real pizza is and you might as well be asking them what their political leanings are.Some are staunch supporters of huge, cheesy, foldable New York-style slices, while others will say that the only true pie is deep dish, Chicago-style. Then there’s the healthier, new wave California-style lovers, who will top a thin crust with anything from barbecue chicken to fresh lettuce and call it a pizza. New Haven-style pizza has a crispy-chewy, almost burnt oblong crust.Thinking outside the pan, Europe has come out with another style: pizza in a cone. It’s exactly what it sounds like – crust wrapped like a waffle cone and filled with sauce, cheese and various toppings. According to Kono, the makers of Pizza Cone, it’s the next big thing. Ugh.But no matter what one’s personal definition of pizza is, it’s likely to be strongly defended.My co-worker Charlie says pizza has to have a thick crust.”I don’t know why you would make a pizza if it doesn’t have a thick crust,” he said. “For the same reason I don’t understand why people leave their crusts behind.”Yet Denver Chef Jennifer Jasinski, of Rioja, likes hers crispy.”My definition of pizza is a thin crust of yeast-raised dough that is baked in a stone oven with almost any topping,” she said. “I sometimes call these things flatbreads also. Currently I have a pear, caramelized onion flatbread with truffle honey and basil on the menu. I also have a Smoked sturgeon flatbread with horseradish crème fraîche, chives and caviar.”That’s some classy pizza.Another renowned Denver chef, Kevin Taylor, echoed Jasinski’s requirements for yeast raised dough and a hot stone oven. But Taylor also notes that to him, a pizza should have sauce.Italians are probably the most serious about pizza. In 2004, they drafted a law that limited what could legally be called pizza.”On the whole, the pizza must be soft, elastic, and easily foldable in half to form a ‘libretto,'” the draft states.The three-page law then goes into defining various styles of pizza. It decrees that a Neapolitan pizza must be round and no more than 35 centimeters across. The center cannot be higher than 0.3 centimeters and the crust cannot rise over 2 centimeters.It even specifies what kind of flour, salt, yeast and tomatoes have to be used.Pizza is serious business.Domino’s doesn’t stand a chance in Italy.Gabrielle Devenish is the food editor at the Post Independent. She’s always wanted to order a pizza and then quote the pizza guy scene from “Home Alone”: “Keep the change, ya filthy animal.” Contact her at (970) 945-8515, ext. 535, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Basic Pizza Dough1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F) 1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast 1 teaspoon honey 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil 3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt Yellow cornmeal, for sprinkling the baking sheet In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, honey, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, stirring to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add 112 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 14 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky. You might not need all of the flour. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes. Oil a large mixing bowl with remaining olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, free from drafts until doubled in size, about 112 hours. – Emeril Lagasse, Food Network Pizza Margherita1 cup crushed tomatoes 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 12 cup fresh basil leaves, coarsely chopped or julienned 12 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano 12 pound mozzarella, sliced 14-inch thick Basic pizza dough, rolled out for 2 (12-inch) pizzas Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and, if you have one, place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of the oven. In the bowl of a food processor, combine tomatoes, olive oil, and salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and process until smooth. Divide sauce between the 2 pizzas and smooth to spread evenly, leaving a 12-inch border along the edges of the dough. Sprinkle basil leaves on top of sauce and then top with Parmigiano-Reggiano. Finally, divide mozzarella slices between 2 pizzas, and bake for about 8 minutes, or until cheese is bubbling and the edges are golden brown. – Emeril Lagasse, Food Network
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