I first ate New York-style pizza in 1978 in my local mall. But I didn’t know it at the time.
In fact, that was a treat (as was going to the mall — my how times have changed). In our small northeast Texas town, we had Pizza Hut, Pizza Inn, Shakey’s (the place with the piano player) and Pizza King, which was a local joint with pizza made similarly to the way the homers do it in St. Louis. Naturally, Pizza King was our go-to place, since it was cheaper than the chains.
Fast-forward to my 1990s move to New Jersey, where the mass-produced stuff was rarely available and mom & pop dives were the places that specialized in big slices of Heaven. Nope. These local joints didn’t produce a cracker-style crust like the pizza I grew up on, but … wow. What works of art!
The thin crispy-chewy crust of a true New York-style pie is a veritable canvas on which fresh tomato sauce, house-made cheese, raw vegetables and artisan (nowadays anyway) meats complete the masterpiece. As I’ve mentioned before, I prefer mine with eggplant — fried, grilled, marinated — it doesn’t matter. But no matter how you slice it, the New Yorkers have the upper hand over the fine folks from St. Louis — and any chain — when it comes to foldable melty goodness.
A note on stones and steel
I used a baking stone for New York-style pizza for years until recently, when I switched over to carbon steel. Why? Well, most of the science aside, carbon steel transfers heat more effectively than stone in a home oven. The result: a crispier crust with a chewier interior, and nice char — similar to the pizza you’d get from a good pizza parlor. I still use my stone for other baking purposes, but steel is now my pizza making thing. You can find either online or at cookware retailers.
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New York-style Pizza
- 1 recipe – Homemade pizza dough (or 14-inch pre-made crust)
- 1½ cups – Pizza sauce (recipe below)
- 2-3 cups – Shredded cheese (I prefer three parts shredded mozzarella to about one part each of smoked provolone, Asiago and Romano)
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Your choice of toppings
- 1½ cups – Canned crushed tomatoes
- 1 tsp - Dried Oregano
- 1 tsp - Red pepper flakes
Combine ingredients. No need to cook.
- Preheat oven to 500F. If using a stone or carbon steel sheet, preheat about an hour before you bake your pizza.
- Make the dough. Roll out to about 14 inches round. Allow rolled dough to rest for about 15-20 minutes.
- Place dough on a peel that's been dusted with cornmeal, or place in a pizza pan.
- Brush entire crust liberally with olive oil; add sauce; then add cheese and your favorite toppings.
- If you are baking on stone, carefully slide uncooked pizza onto it. Otherwise, place pizza (in pan) on middle rack of preheated oven.
- Bake until crust begins to char and cheese is browned and bubbly – about 10 minutes. Enjoy!
Thinly-sliced eggplant, brushed or sprayed w/ olive oil
Torn Basil, about 3 leaves per pie
Garlic, roughly chopped
Traditional meats – pepperoni, Italian sausage, ham, ground beef, meatballs, etc.
Traditional veggies – Onions, sweet peppers*, black/green olives, etc.
*Sweet peppers tend to hold a lot of water and it will not evaporate effectively unless sliced super thin (lunch meat-thin).
Pizza Margherita (pictured)
12 oz - Fresh Mozzarella, sliced
3-4 - Fresh Basil leaves, torn