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Pizza Chef Answers Pizza Questions From Twitter

Chef, author, and Razza owner Dan Richer answers the internet's burning questions about pizza. Why does pepperoni curl? What are the best cheeses for making pizza? What is the most important part of a pizza? Does a calzone count as a pizza? Are San Marzano tomatoes really that great? How much does it cost to open a pizzeria? Dan answers all these questions and much more! Director: Justin Wolfson Director of Photography: Rahil Ashruff Editor: Shandor Garrison Expert: Dan Richer Producer: Justin Wolfson Line Producer: Joseph Buscemi Associate Producer: Paul Gulyas Production Manager: Eric Martinez Production Coordinator: Fernando Davila Senior Casting Producer: Nicole Ford Camera Operator: Cloud Audio: Brett Van Deusen Production Assistant: Ryan Coppola Post Production Supervisor: Alexa Deutsch Post Production Coordinator: Ian Bryant Supervising Editor: Doug Larsen Assistant Editor: Andy Morell

Released on 03/28/2023


I'm Dan Richer, chef, restaurant owner, and author.

Today, I'm here to answer your questions from Twitter.

This is Pizza Support.

[upbeat music]

First up, melissa_dorman says,

The real question that makes up life.

Why does pepperoni curl?

Pizza bakes from the top down

but also from the bottom up.

And there's a differential

between the pepperoni that's cooking from the top

and the pepperoni on the bottom,

touching cold cheese and sauce.

So as the heat from top down bakes it,

the casing kind of shrinks it a little bit

and the edges start to pop up.

Next up, NiftyNormo asks,

People making a big deal out of eating pineapple on pizza,

but what about the folks eating anchovies?

Ham and pineapple pizza originated in Canada, of all places,

not in Hawaii.

If you grew up eating pineapple on a pizza,

you just go right ahead.

Don't listen to them.

Anchovies are great on a pizza.

Filled with salty, savoriness, it's umami.

I personally don't like a mouthful of anchovies,

so what I do is I take my anchovies

with some olive oil on the stove

and just let it cook for about 45 minutes

until they're completely melted into the oil,

and then I drizzle that on top of the pizza.

That's like the gateway for people to like anchovies.

Next up, nomnommtl asks,

Any good cooks out there know what the best cheeses

for making pizza are?

Google's no help.

If we want to bake the pizza with the cheese on it,

I always recommend good melters.

Young cheeses like fresh mozzarella are great.

Swiss cheeses, Raclette, Fontina, phenomenal for pizza.

Other cheeses like goat cheese that don't melt.

Parmigiano Reggiano, it's a great cheese for pizza.

Put them on after you bake the pizza.

Cheese is a combination of fat, water,

and it's all held together with protein.

We need that fat and moisture to be in balance

and held together by those proteins.

So when it hits the oven, it melts and flows onto the pizza.

So we have two Margherita pizzas here.

Same cheese, but this cheese was made yesterday

and this cheese was made about 10 minutes ago.

This one flows more.

We're gonna have nice, long cheese pulls.

The cheese is gonna be tender and creamy.

Whereas this one, even though it was made 24 hours ago,

the cheese kind of stayed put,

clear lines where it stopped flowing and melting.

For mozzarella cheese, you want to use the freshest cheese

that you can possibly find.

Next, Important question for pizza Twitter,

mushrooms on pizza, cooked or raw?

Always cooked. It's super important.

Mushrooms have a ton of liquid in them,

so as they bake they release a lot of liquid.

We want that liquid to release

before we put them on a pizza.

Next question.

EricVBailey asks,

What makes a pizza sauce a great pizza sauce?

Great tomatoes make a great pizza sauce.

We want to use whole peeled tomatoes that taste delicious.

Once you have those tomatoes,

treat them as simply as possible.

Pizza sauce is pretty much never cooked in advance.

We take the tomatoes, maybe a pinch of salt,

we adjust their viscosity

by either straining them a little bit if they're too loose

or adding just a touch of water to loosen them up.

This is called a Bostwick Consistometer.

This is what tomato canneries use to control their viscosity

and keep their product very consistent and reliable

from can to can and from year to year.

They put a sample of their sauce on here,

specific amount at a specific temperature,

[consistometer clacks]

and then they time it to see how far and how fast it flows.

We want to use whole peeled tomatoes

'cause that's typically the best in show

for each tomato manufacturer.

Next question, Evansemola asks,

What's the most important part of a pizza?

Is it the cheese, sauce, or dough?

There's no one right answer here.

What are you trying to achieve in your pizza?

I actually came up with a list

of 60 different characteristics about pizza

that I loved and that I wanted to create.

And those are my product specs.

It's also my training manual

for our kitchen team here at the restaurant.

This pizza evaluation rubric,

everything from the build of the pizza, the bake,

the structural integrity of it, how caramelized the rim is.

We're looking for big open holes in the crust,

separated by thin pearlescent cell walls,

flavors of fermented wheat.

The cheese has 10 characteristics.

Tomatoes have eight characteristics.

When you make pizza,

you want to have your end product in mind.

There's no way you can build a house

without a set of blueprints.

Next up, Allan4023 asks,

What is the best type of oven for cooking a pizza?

The best type of oven for cooking pizza

is the oven that you have access to.

I have access to this beautiful wood-fired oven.

This is my preferred method for baking a pizza.

And it's not because of how hot it is.

Everyone thinks it has to be 900 degrees

to make great pizza.

That's not the reason why we love wood-fired pizza.

The reason we love it is because it's huge.

Since it's such a large oven,

we have so many areas to move the pizza as it bakes.

We can actually put the pizza in a spot of the oven

where that pizza just wants to be.

As long as your oven reaches a minimum of 475 degrees,

you can make great pizza.

Cooking a pizza below 475 degrees,

you're not going to get that oven spring

which is that rapid rise of the pizza dough as it bakes.

You're also not gonna get great caramelization

and I like crispy pizza.

Next up, ohwilduk says,

People who make pizzas at home,

how necessary are pizza stones?

Pizza stones are vital to making great pizza

in your home oven.

You can use a pizza stone, a pizza steel,

or just some fire bricks that you can get for $2 each

at any big-box hardware store.

I buy pizza steels, which is just a thick, quarter-inch,

half-inch plate of steel.

I don't ever take it in or out of the oven.

It just stays in the oven, making my oven more efficient.

So when I launch a pizza into the oven,

the pizza has direct contact with this very hot surface

and that's what's gonna cause the pizza to rise,

that oven spring.

The thermal mass is crucial

to getting your pizza dough crispy

and fully baked from the bottom up.

Next up, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,

Most underrated pizzas topping?

I'd say corn.

I was traveling in Japan about 15 years ago

and I saw a pepperoni and corn pizza.

And a few years later,

when New Jersey was having a great corn season,

I remembered it.

And now it's our biggest selling seasonal pizza all year.

Next up, homowendy asks,

Anyone have any ideas on poolish dough?

This is our pizza dough.

Pizza dough is made up of flour, water, salt,

and yeast of some sort.

A poolish is what we call a pre-ferment.

That means before we mix our final pizza dough,

we actually take some of the flour, water, and yeast,

and we mix it together the night before,

and we let it sit at room temperature,

fermenting and getting gassy, and bubbly,

and filling with flavors.

So poolish is one type of pre-ferment.

There's also biga and there's also sourdough.

I wish you guys can smell this. It is so flavorful.

Look at that gas. Oh, my God.

The flavor that this is going to introduce

into my pizza dough today

is the essence of pizza.

Next up, ChaddyCampbell says,

Do pizza makers have to toss the pizza up in the air

or is that just a fun little thing they like to do?

You certainly don't have to toss your pizza dough

up in the air.

I certainly don't.

If you are too aggressive with it,

you tend to knock out all the gases

that were built up through fermentation.

You need the gas to create a lightness and a crispiness,

and an airiness.

Next up, ham__salad asks,

I'm getting better at making pizza dough.

But how do you make it less bready?

Does it need to proof longer? More kneading?

You know, it doesn't look bad.

But actually, cheese needs a little bit of help.

We have a little bit too much browning

and it's not flowing and melting very well,

so I would turn the oven temperature up.

I would also increase the hydration of the dough

to help the heat transfer more efficiently,

and you definitely have to use a pizza stone.

Next question, SodasAtSundown asks,

Just a random question, but do you know how to cook pizza?

I do. Let me show you.

First, we need our pizza dough.

We're gonna dust a little bit of flour on top,

flatten it out, and then we're gonna start to extend it.

You can just pick it up in the air and let it hang,

and let gravity do the work.

Or you can pick it up on the back of your hands

and use your knuckles.

Keep stretching it until it's about 10 inches.

I'm gonna have a little bit more flour over here.

The main thing is to keep the dough nice and dry.

One drop of water underneath this pizza crust,

it's gonna make it all stick.

Then we're gonna add our sauce.

[ladle clacking]

Less sauce is always better.

So we have fresh mozzarella here.

Extra virgin olive oil, tiny bit,

and I like a little bit of coarse sea salt.

Now I have my pickup peel and now we're gonna launch it in.

[pizza peel clacks]

So once I see the first signs of caramelization,

then I'm gonna start to rotate the pizza.

You can see a little bit of caramelization

starting to occur on the bottom.

And that is a fully baked pizza.

Next up, simonmckellar asks,

Does a calzone count as a pizza?

A calzone is basically a pizza folded in half

and then baked in the oven,

so it's kind of like a pizza pocket.

No, it does not count as pizza, but it's pizza's cousin.

Next up, luceletics says,

How can you ever have too much cheese on a pizza?

It's very possible.

Pizza is a flatbread with condiments baked onto it.

Now if you overload your pizza with condiments,

there's not gonna be enough strength in the dough

to keep it supported.

We need structural integrity in our pizza

if we're gonna pick it up with our hands.

TimMiessler asks,

Should I order two medium pizzas or one large?

Here's the math.

Extensive algebra.

Yes, you're right.

There is more surface area on one 18-inch pizza

versus two smaller pies.

Good work.

Next up, ___tairxa.

Can I put a pizza box in the oven? Will it burn?

Do not put a pizza box in the oven, please. Fire hazard.

From stinkythinktank.

Best way to reheat cold pizza?

I like the toaster oven.

You can also use a cast iron skillet

on a medium-high flame on your stove top.

Just please, whatever you do, don't use the microwave.

The way that the heat waves are transferred to the pizza

is just not good for any bread products.

Next up, aultimate says,

What's the best style of pizza?

Detroit, New York, California, Chicago?

I don't know what the best style of pizza is.

I like them all and you should try them all.

But let's take Detroit-style.

It's a rectangular pizza baked in a pan,

cheese goes all the way to the edge,

tends to get a little crispy.

New York-style pizzas are big.

Pick 'em up with your hands, cut in a triangle, folded,

they're a little bit pliable, a little bit crispy.

I love when they're super hot

and they burn the roof of your mouth.

California pizza, local produce.

They're surrounded by farmlands

and they kind of just run with that.

Plus they're also not bound by authenticity, tradition.

Chicago deep dish pizza is baked in a pan.

There tends to be a lot of fat,

it's really heavy, it's very rich,

kind of a fork-and-knife thing.

It's called pizza but it's it's own unique individual thing.

UnwinderH asks,

It's always driven me crazy that people say

the pizza in New York is so much better

than the pizza anywhere else.

Why can't it be replicated?

Is there something

in the New York City municipal water supply?

That's one of the most frequently asked questions

that I get.

It is not about the water.

There's always little corrections that we can make

for the minute differences

in the mineral content in the water.

If you understand the ingredients and the techniques

behind New York-style pizza,

you can make it anywhere in the world.

The water has very little to do

with the quality of your pizza.

Next up, coreblogs says,

I don't get oil on pizza. Does it, like, add flavor?

But oil doesn't taste good.

If you use the right oil, it absolutely tastes good.

Some flavors are fat-soluble,

so you need fat for your brain to be able

to really pick up those flavors.

We would never use a neutral oil

like vegetable oil, canola oil, grapeseed oil.

Those are meant for high-temperature cooking.

For pizza and salads,

we like high-quality, extra virgin olive oil.

Stuff is liquid gold.

PhilWillis says,

Are San Marzano tomatoes really that great?

Or is it just a way of flexing your knowledge

of cooking trivia?

You do not need San Marzano tomatoes.

San Marzano is a small region in Italy,

just outside of Naples.

They're known to have amazing volcanic soil

and really delicious tomatoes,

but they can't possibly produce enough tomatoes

in this very small region of Italy

to meet worldwide demand.

Line up five different tomatoes

that are in your supermarket.

Taste it and find what you like, and use that tomato.

Next up, ChiSox_History,

How much would it cost to open a pizzeria?

Well, that depends on how much money you got to spend.

I've seen people do a food truck for 30, $40,000.

You can open a pizzeria for $150,000

if it has preexisting restaurant infrastructure

like the proper plumbing, the proper permits,

the proper electricity,

or you can spend $10 million to open pizzeria.

There's no right or wrong here.

Next up, jeanmare_gag asks,

Best pizza dough recipe?

Please share right now

because I need it to rise before dinner time.

There's no best recipe for pizza

but here's a very simple one.

1,000 grams of flour, 750 grams of water,

20 grams of salt, and two grams of yeast.

And I can show you how to make pizza dough right now.

Before we start mixing the flour and water,

one of the most crucial parts of the process

is to control our temperatures.

Fermentation and the activity of the yeast

is determined by the temperature.

We want our dough to start fermentation

at 75 degrees today.

So we do 75 times three, which is 225,

and then we're gonna subtract out the room temperature,

which is 82.

We're gonna subtract out the temperature of our flour,

which right now is 75 degrees.

And we're gonna subtract out the amount of heat generated

by actually sticking my warm hand in here and mixing it.

That's called the friction factor.

Now for hand mixing, maybe one or two degrees of heat

is generated by friction.

If you use a dough mixer,

it could be 40, 50 degrees of heat generated.

So I'm gonna build in one degree.

That spits out my water temperature to use.

If I use that water temperature for this dough,

I know my dough is gonna start fermentation at 75 degrees.

This part of the process is so crucial.

Don't even mix flour and water together

unless you know your temperature of water.

We're gonna add the yeast to the flour

and give it a little stir,

and then we're gonna start adding our 67 degree water.

Then we're gonna wait 20 minutes

and this part is called the autolyse.

There's an enzymatic reaction that starts occurring

where amylase, naturally present in flour,

starts to convert starch into simple sugars

that the yeast can then consume.

We're also allowing the flour to fully hydrate.

Gluten development begins.

All right, so we just let our pizza dough rest

for 20 minutes.

And we're gonna mix in the salt

and we're gonna begin kneading.

And I'm just doing this scooping and digging motion.

It's strengthening the gluten

and it's also incorporating a little bit of air

into the dough, which is a good thing.

It's creating these little micro bubbles

called nucleation sites.

And those little tiny bubbles are gonna fill with gas

that the yeast produce.

We're gonna do this for five minutes.

Okay, then we're gonna let it sit.

Next up, Kieraplease asks,

What should never go on a pizza?

If you can dream it, it should go on a pizza.

isalyssaokay asks, Does pizza in Italy hit different?

Yes, it does.

Italy is a different place

with a different history of pizza,

different local ingredients,

different local traditions, and different styles.

There's Neapolitan-style pizza

which is 12-inch pie baked in a very hot oven.

There's Roman Pizza Tonda,

which is a round, thin, crispy pizza

baked in a lower temperature, wood-fired oven.

There's pizza alla pala.

In bakeries, there's pizza al Taglio.

There's so many different styles of pizza in Italy.

It's such a special thing.

Blue_Dog_Pizza asks,

Eating pizza with a fork and knife.

Is it A-OK or a pizza faux pas?

I think it's perfectly okay to eat pizza any way you choose.

All right, that's it. That's all the questions.

Hope you learn something and until next time.

[chill music]

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