Sep 22, 2017 @ 9:00 AM
If you love pizza as much as we do, you’ve probably heard of Pizzeria Bianco, the legendary Arizona-based pizza mecca founded by the James Beard award-winning chef Chris Bianco, and its sister restaurants Pane Bianco and Tratto, all located in Phoenix. Bianco’s pies are known as arguably one of the best in America—Zagat even declared him as one of the six chefs who have changed this signature dish. This summer, he invites us into his kitchen with his first ever cookbook, BIANCO: Pizza, Pasta, and Other Food I Like ($35, amazon.com).
In this fully illustrated, colorful cookbook, Bianco not only walks us through how he makes his famed pizza and everything that makes it special—from the basics of flour to the perfect crust—but also features recipes for sides and desserts that pair impeccably with it. And for those of us who can’t get to Phoenix ASAP, Bianco shares a behind-the-scenes look at his signature dishes, taken straight from his beloved restaurants and provides techniques for simplifying his methods for your own kitchen.
One of Bianco’s favorite things to eat since he was a child (and soon-to-be yours) is focaccia. To make this tender Sicilian pizza he starts with the same homemade dough that sets the foundation for his popular pies. This version, topped with lemon, pecorino, and red onion, is reminiscent of the flavors he loved growing up in New York and is sure to satisfy any pizza craving.
Read on to learn how you can make this zesty, heavenly focaccia at home. And if you don't have the time or patience to make own dough, then visit your local pizza shop to pick up some dough. It probably won't have quite the same tang as Bianco's recipe, but hey, it's a start.
Pizza Dough, taken through the 3-hour rise
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil Coarse sea salt (optional)
Chopped fresh rosemary or another topping of your choice (optional; recipes follow)
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 cups warm water (105° to 110°F)
5 - 5 1/2 cups bread or other high-protein flour, preferably organic and freshly milled, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons fine sea salt
Extra virgin olive oil, for greasing the bowl
SHAPING PIZZA DOUGH
Hold the top edge of a piece of dough with both hands, allowing the bottom edge to touch the work surface, and carefully move your hands around the edges to form a round of dough. You have to find your own style, but I usually just cup my hand into a C shape, turn my hand knuckle side up, and drape the dough off it, allowing gravity to do its work, so it gently falls onto the floured table. Imagine you’re turning a wheel. Hold that dough aloft, allowing its weight to stretch it into a rough 10-inch round. Don’t put any pressure on it by pulling or stretching it, just let gravity do the job— you want that aeration and cragginess. Keep it moving, and it will start to relax— like we relax when we are on a sofa.
At this point, you’re ready to make a pizza. Lay the dough on a lightly floured pizza peel or inverted baking sheet. Gently press out the edges with your fingers. You will start to see some puffiness or bubbles now. Jerk the peel to make sure the dough is not sticking. If it is, lift the dough and dust the underside with a little flour (or, if no one is looking, blow under it very gently). Tuck and shape it until it’s a happy round.
Top the pizza as per the instructions in any of the recipes that follow.
In the Bianco Pizza Dough recipe, you proof the dough for 3 hours, then divide it into balls and let it proof for another hour before you bake it. It tastes good. No problems. But what happens if you proof it for 7 hours? What if you let it go for 24 hours? It will be different, and that difference might be more to your taste than the basic dough. At 3 hours for the first proof, you will have a dough that will brown more quickly than a dough that's proofed for 14 hours, because the yeast will not have converted as many of the sugars. The longer the dough proofs, and the more sugars are converted, the more it will have that alcoholic smell of fermentation, and the more the sour flavors will develop. Many people love those flavors—l ike a good sourdough bread— but here I don't necessarily want too many of them, because I don't want them to dominate the flavors of the pizza toppings. That said, there is no wrong way to go here. Make the dough a few times, following the recipe, until you feel comfortable. Then start to play with it. Determine how long a proof you like.
Bear in mind that where you are in the world will also play its part. If you’re making the dough in Iceland, it's going to be different from making it in Phoenix. The climate is different, so it may need to proof for a little longer than 3 hours to start. Your water will be different, and it will affect the flavor of your dough. Never forget, we’re only dealing with four ingredients, and each one brings its own flavors and qualities to the pizza. So record the process as you go. Work with your sense of taste and your broader sensibility of the things you like. This basic dough recipe is only an early survey of a journey you get to finish yourself.
From BIANCO by Chris Bianco. Copyright 2017 Chris Bianco. Excerpted by permission of Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.