Sunday, November 28, 2004

what we in new york call a sicilian

here in new york, we have basically 2 kinds of pizza: the usual, often sold by the slice -- except famously at john's and grimaldi's, where you don't even ask for anything less than a whole pie -- and the sicilian. the usual is often called a thin crust, which it isn't.

compared to the really thin, almost cracker-y pizza crusts of rome or the chewier thin crusts of naples, the new york "usual" is denser, thicker, and contains more oil. again, john's, grimaldi's, patsy's: these are usually cited as the epitome of the new york pie.

the sicilian is less discussed. i think the best new york sicilian pizza is at di fara's in midwood, brooklyn, off avenue j. the sicilian is a very thick, chewy, bready crust, is always made on a rectangular sheet pan, and has a heavier layer of cheese.

of all the pizzas i've made here in new york -- every sunday for oh, 6 years now, before i even started this dopey blog -- i've never made a sicilian. until today. however it was rather unintentional. ..

i wanted to try the hamelman pizza recipe, which is 68% hydration and based in a biga that sits overnight. his baguette was so amazing i had to try the pizza.

it's interesting in that you make the biga, cut it into the mixing bowl with the remaining flour (i used a mixture of durum and first clear that comes out to 13% protein), water, yeast, and salt. then after the first mix is done, you drizzle the oil into the mixer as the dough hook kneads.

his mixing and folding process gives you super-tall, super-springy balls of dough.

i heated the pizza stone to 550 degrees f, spread the dough out as i usually do, and laid on a thin layer of sauce and fresh mozzarella. bake for 6 mins.

and what comes out? i couldn't believe my eyes: it was a sicilian crust! the edge (what most people call "the crust" proper), not being weighed down by ingredients, rose to an astonishing height.

it mean, it was literally a good 1-1/2 inches high! light as a feather, lovely, deliciously browned, crispy, and chewy.

altho' the center was fine, that edge was thick, thick, thick. . . not because i patted it out thicker than usual, but because . . .i don't know, i suppose because all of hamelman's recipes give you lofty, mile-high results.

hamelman lives in vermont, so perhaps that counts as great pizza there. and it was quite tasty, a real pleasure to eat. and yet!

new yorkers are a stubborn lot. mr. right wanted a usual new-york-style pizza; he's no sicilian fan!

but if you are, the hamelman recipe is what you're after. me, i'm still in pursuit of the perfect new york usual pizza crust. . .

posted by fortune | 7:19 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 0 comments

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