We all know the first law of Pizza-Like Objects: If it's made with some combination of zesty tomato sauce, a wheat-based bready product, and oozy melted cheese with a hint of pepperoni, it's going to taste good. Perhaps not great, but reliably pretty good. And that's the problem with English muffin pizza. It's good stuff, to be sure, but the thing about good things is that they all have the ability to be great.
Inspired by the Filetti pizza at Anthony Mangieri's Una Pizza Napoletana, this pie combines fresh cherry tomatoes with mozzarella, basil, garlic, olive oil, and a couple twists of our own.
Even in California, fig season doesn't last forever, and the specimens I was picking up last week had already lost their figgy luster. The best way to use less-than-perfect figs is to cook them. Not only does this drive off some of their moisture, concentrating their flavor, but it also converts some of their more complex sugars to simple sugars that are sweeter than their precursors. Your figs become jammier and all around tastier. This works especially well on a pizza cooked in a hot oven because that bite of cheese and drizzle of olive oil can go straight on top with the figs.
The first time I had radicchio on a pizza was about a decade ago in the old converted barn that my good friend and food writer Deborah Krasner calls home, up in Putney, Vermont. I still remember her exact words, because I didn't believe them at the time: "The leaves become just wonderfully sweet when they're roasted and charred," she said. In what was, at that point, my very limited experience, charring things always made them more bitter, not less. Luckily, she was right, I was wrong, and deliciousness ensued.
Back in April, I asked this question: What if Andris Lagsdin, creator of the Baking Steel and Al Contarino, inventor of the KettlePizza were to get together to create a model based on their two products that works exactly like my set up straight out of the box? Well, folks, I'd like you to meet the new KettlePizza and Baking Steel joint pizza oven.
It looks like pizza, smells like pizza, it even tastes a little like pizza, but it's not pizza. At least, not inasmuch as pizza is defined by its bread-based crust. The slice you are looking at shares much in common with pizza. It's got gooey melted cheese. It's got a robust tomato sauce that balances zestiness and sweetness with just the right bit of zip. It's got a crisp underbelly and a soft, moist, tender interior. It just happens to be made with noodles instead of dough.
I've waxed rhapsodic on more than one occasion about the combined power of the Kettle Pizza and Pizza Steel. But not everyone has a coal grill. For some folks, the convenience of gas simply trumps the flavor and heat advantages you get from live coals. We tested two models at opposite ends of the price range that promise to produce wood-fired Neapolitan-style results with nothing but a propane tank as the fuel source.
I imagine that if my rice cooker got it on with my Roomba, their offspring might look a bit like the new Breville Crispy Crust countertop pizza oven, a new plug-and-go appliance that promises "professional brick-oven results right in your own kitchen." Considering how poorly our testing of previous countertop pizza cookers has gone, we weren't holding out too much hope of the Breville contraption producing anything but middling results. Happily, I can report that the oven indeed doesperform as advertised, pumping out crisp-crust 10-inch pies in about 7 minutes, crisp bottom crust, decent charring and all.
It doesn't necessarily sound like it's going to be great, but once you try it, the combination of spicy, garlicky, pickled kimchi and ooey, gooey cheese is tough to turn your back on.
It's exciting times indeed in the world of backyard pizza-making. Last year, I tested out two fantastic products that improved the quality of my home-baked pizzas by leaps and bounds. This year, I've combined their powers to produce the ultimate—and inexpensive—home pie-slinging setup.
Back when I was a wee food labber who spent his summers at band camp,* my favorite day of the summer was when the camp's cook, Glen, would make his pesto. We'd have a camp-wide pesto spaghetti eating contest, in which I may have been the only competitor. This simultaneously made me a winner and a complete loser each time. What can I say? I loved my pesto back then as much as I love it now. Today, we're gonna stick it on pizza. But first, a few words to the wise.
French bread pizza doesn't have to be that boring, overly sweet, soggy staple of cafeteria lunches that we all know. Here's how to make a version that's boldly seasoned, well balanced, and perfectly textured.
I don't miss too many foods as a vegan, but... pizza. My first true love. Light of my life and fire of my loins. It will forever rest in that OMG WANT corner. Fortunately, as I found, great pizza is not off-limits to vegans by any means. Here's how to make vegan pizza every bit as satisfying and delicious as a cheese-topped pie.
I've got a confession to make: I love pan pizza. I'm not talking deep-dish Chicago-style with its crisp crust and rivers of cheese and sauce, I'm talking thick-crusted, fried-on-the-bottom, puffy, cheesy, focaccia-esque pan pizza, dripping with strings of mozzarella and robust sauce. If only pizza that good were also easy to make at home. Well here's the good news: It is. This is the easiest pizza you will ever make. Seriously. All it takes is a few basic kitchen essentials, some simple ingredients, and a bit of patience.
Last week, I wrote a piece about a pet obsession of mine: What makes pepperoni slices curl? The final conclusion was that it largely has to do with temperature differentials between the top surface heating faster than the bottom, as well as meat flow patterns inside the sausage caused by the stuffing horn being slimmer than the casing. A few hours after the post went live, I got an email from my friend Evros Loukaides, a research student at Cambridge University studying the behavior and applications of thin morphing structures. Apparently, curling pepperoni falls squarely in the line of his work simulating thin morphing structures.
Today's installment of The Pizza Lab presents what is probably the most important work of my career. Nay, my life. It's a story of such unparalleled importance that it makes pressing international issues like comparative baking surfaces and cold fermentation seem trivial in comparison. I'm talking about pepperoni curl. What it is, what makes it happen, and how to maximize it. It's far more fascinating than you may think.
I first reviewed the Baking Steel a few weeks ago, a new home pizza-making tool that delivered the best crust I've ever made in a home oven, over and over again. Since then, some folks have been asking questions: How does the new half-inch version compare? How does the Lodge cast iron pizza pan stack up? I headed into the kitchen and baked off a dozen pies to see if we could answer those questions.
I came out with the early word on the Baking Steel, a product which at the time was in Kickstarter mode trying to raise enough money for their first run. Thanks to crazy pizza heads like you, they managed to blow past their initial investment requirements by several thousand dollars. By all accounts, founder Andris Lagsdin is in over his head trying to keep up with demand on that first run. This is good news for him, and even better news for home piemakers, because I've got to tell you: This is the most impressive home pizza product I've ever tested.
We've gone through a lot of pizza styles and recipes here at The Pizza Lab, but I still often get asked "what's the best pizza crust recipe you know?" When I'm in the mood to fire up the grill or heat up the broiler, I might take my time and make a Neapolitan-style lean dough. If I want to relive my childhood without stepping out my apartment door, it's a New York-style. Company coming over and I want to feed a crowd without messing up the kitchen? It's Sicilian-style square pie all the way. Here's a brief run-down on the three recipes that every home pie-maker should have in their arsenal to tackle all manner of pizza-centric circumstances.