Click the image to watch the video!In this video, Chef Joseph W. DiPerri, an associate professor in Culinary Arts at The Culinary Institute of America, shows us how to make the ultimate Italian dish: Pizza Margherita. The key ingredients reflect the colors of the Italian flag: red tomatoes, white mozzarella, and green basil. The dish is believed to have been created in Naples in the late 19th century to honor Queen Margherita when she was visiting the city. Since the season for the tastiest fresh tomatoes is short, Chef DiPerri recommends using canned tomatoes: San Marzano plum tomatoes are widely considered to be the best (they grow in the rich, volcanic soil south of Naples ). While the most classic Pizza Margherita generally has little more than tomatoes, a little olive oil, basil, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and sometimes oregano and garlic, feel free to experiment with toppings (Chef DiPerri, for example, adds fresh parsley). "Pizza is made for improvisation and brooks no dogmas about its toppings," Marcella Hazan writes in Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.
A few additional tips: You may notice that the chef skips the second rise of the dough that the recipe calls for. As the yeast ferments during each rise, it creates compounds that give the dough more flavor, but if you're pressed for time, feel free to omit this step -- your pizza will still be delicious. When flattening your dough, be sure to press down to squeeze out air bubbles (the "gas") created during rising. You can bake the pizza on a cookie sheet, but for an even crispier crust, heat a pizza stone in the oven and use a pizza peel (paddle) to slide it onto and remove it from the hot surface.
Read an interview with the Godmother of Italian Cooking, Marcella Hazan.
Throw an Italian Easter party with Italian cooking expert Lidia Bastianich!
Megan O. Steintrager is a senior editor at Epicurious.com. She has worked as a writer and editor at Epicurious since the late '90s. Steintrager holds a master's in journalism from New York University with a concentration in Cultural Reporting and Criticism, and has taken numerous cooking classes at New York 's Institute for Culinary Education and the Natural Gourmet Institute for Food and Health. She has worked as a writer and editor for ConsumerReports.org, Restaurant Business magazine, and Spin.com, and has been published in Self, Brides, and Time Out New York, among other print and online publications.
Photo by CIA/Keith Ferris
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