Unlike the vast majority of eaters out there, I don’t go wild over pizza. In fact, it takes a lot for me to really crave this ubiquitous mealtime staple. And I live in New York, too, arguably the next best pizza city after Naples (and the rest of Italy).
It’s funny. When I get to thinking about the breakdown of a good pie, I can’t even understand why I don’t find myself dreaming in pizza. Bread? Check. Cheese? Double check. Tomato sauce? Check. Assorted veggies? Check. More Cheese? Please!
But somehow, as I combed through my own personal eater archives, I realized the last time I had pizza, like sat down for a meal of pizza, was in my own kitchen two months ago. The last time I ordered pizza out….well that was a year ago…in Italy.
Luckily this man has whetted my pie-eating appetite. Jim Lahey of Co. and Sullivan Street Bakery, arguably the best American baker and a pretty serious pizza creator, has just published a cook book that will change the way I do things in the pizza department for good and for ever. My Pizza, his new manual for his no-knead dough technique, is every bit as accessible as it is inspiring. Page upon page of pizza topping combinations, informative basic technique spreads, and a splash of personal anecdote, this is what a cookbook should be. I read it cover to cover then began a kitchen/pantry list for the beginning of my za career.
For all you skeptics out there (pizza is not easy….no knead dough, you’re crazy….) I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Lahey in his apartment in Hells Kitchen for a Serious Eats shoot. Watch the exciting video here…NOW. He is zany and full of life (I blame the pizza!) just like his foods. I watched him demo from his book and am now a new no-knead convert. I witnessed the process, and I tasted the result, oh did I taste that result. You don’t have to be a born and bred Italian with a huge coal oven to churn out restaurant quality pies. You just have to have a lithe patience, a few quality ingredients, and a hearty appetite. The book won’t hurt either! The pizza Lahey’s recipes yield is the perfect thickness, not crackery but not over-sized. Each piece folds slightly when pressure is applied but can withhold a straight-on eating approach. The slightly charred and incongruent edges sing harmoniously with the smear of toppings. As a fan of no-sauce pizzas, like Lahey, I am especially drawn to the ample array of white pizza recipes he catalogs, most of which highlight fine cheeses and well-done vegetable toppers. I sampled the broccoli rabe pie and was literally rendered speechless. All I could muster was a “mmmmm” because words would have done no justice to that taste that is a Co. pizza.
I’ll be sure to post some of the pies I create as soon as I lay my hands on a pizza stone and some quality cheese. Until then I think I’ll make a reservation to Co. and head down to Sullivan Street Bakery for more Lahey-labored eats.
**Thanks to Serious Eats and Mr. Lahey for the fabulous video and photos, and experience!**