by Jim Baugh
July is our Neapolitan Pizza month and boy is there nothing better. Here I will cover the basics and refer you to our galley blog for more details at http://jimsgalley.blogspot.com/2010/10/jims-neo-ny-style-pizza-with-kaf-sir.html
You will need an oven that will be able to heat to temperatures from 800 to 1000 degrees. Fortunately now there are several pizza ovens on the market for outdoor use that do the trick and they are not very expensive. There is also the DIY solutions and what I use is a modified pizza kettle. Basically I added and baking steel and two stones. I like the pizza kettle because I can use wood. My preference is a mix of cherry wood and brick charcoal. What you want to be able to achieve is a higher temperature on top (dome-900+ degrees), the lower floor or stone ( 700+ degrees). These pies will bake anywhere from 60 seconds to 2 minutes.
Dough: I use 00 flour, a must for these high temps. Also I use a sourdough culture, but you can use commercial yeast. Make a LEAN dough, meaning only flour, water, and salt. I do around a 70% hydration. That is it. Mix accordingly and cold bulk ferment for three days in the fridge. On bake day, take out in the morning, divi the dough into balls, and let rise until bake time.
Sauce: Simple. Use San Marzano’s, canned and hand crush them. Add some sea salt, fresh basil, and you are done.
Cheese: Use fresh Motz, I make my own but as long as you use a soft high moisture motz you will be good to go.
Prep everything in advance then start your fire. My grill\oven takes about 40 minutes to get up to 900+ degrees. Quickly make the pie on the peel. Use very little sauce and sparingly on the motz cheese. With Neapolitan Pizza, less is more. Once the temp is right, use a pizza peel to launch the pie. Once you bake your pie (usually under 2 min) remove and drizzle a little olive oil on the pie. Now you are ready to serve. Have some fresh parm and or Romano to sprinkle on the slices at the table.
That is basically it. You can check out our galley blog for more details or google recipes on you tube. This truly is a great experience and something that really makes a summer party. I usually will also do seafood versions of this by simply using a cream sauce and fresh crabmeat and scallops for the toppings.