Italian Chef Secrets: How to Make Perfect Thin Crust Pizza | Nick Anderer | Skillshare

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Italian Chef Secrets: How to Make Perfect Thin Crust Pizza

teacher avatar Nick Anderer, Executive Chef / Partner, Marta & Maialino

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
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Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Making Dough, Roman Style


    • 3.



    • 4.

      Rolling the Dough


    • 5.

      Dressing Your Pizza


    • 6.

      Cooking Your Pizza


    • 7.

      Getting Creative With Ingredients


    • 8.

      Pizza Steel (for Crispy Crust at Home)


    • 9.

      Let's Eat!


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About This Class

Love thin-crust pizza? Eager to learn how to make it yourself? 

This mouthwatering 50-minute class with Nick Anderer, Chef/Partner of Marta and Maialino — two Roman-inspired restaurants that are part of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group in New York City — walks you through how to make authentic Roman style pizza like the pros. 

Watch Nick's step-by-step process:

  • formula and techniques for making dough 
  • ingredients to dress your pizza, before and after the oven  
  • and finally, cooking your pie to perfection 

Once you learn the basics from Nick, you can put your own creative twist on it and start making your own custom pizzas at home! You’ll leave this class with a newfound appreciation for Roman-style thin crust pizza, and the skills you need to wow your guests at your next dinner party.

Meet Your Teacher

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Nick Anderer

Executive Chef / Partner, Marta & Maialino


Nick Anderer is the Executive Chef and Partner at two NYC restaurants, Marta and Maialino.

Following his year in Italy, Nick landed at Gramercy Tavern where he cooked for six years (initially under Chef Tom Colicchio and then for Chef Michael Anthony). During his time at Gramercy Tavern, Nick reinvigorated the pasta program and developed a deep and lasting respect for ingredients and the farmers who grow them.

In 2009, Danny Meyer appointed Nick as the opening Executive Chef of Maialino where he later became a partner in 2012. This Roman-inspired trattoria overlooking Gramercy Park captures the warmth and comfort of a true neighborhood restaurant, with a menu that celebrates the team's meaningful relationship with its local family of farmers and suppliers. Since opening, ... See full profile

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1. Introduction: Hi, my name is Nick Anderer. I'm the chef partner of two Roman-style Italian restaurants here in New York City. One is Maialino, on 21st and Lexington, and the other one is Marta, a Roman-style pizzeria, on 29th, between Park and Madison. I've been working with Danny Meyer for about 14 years now. I worked at Gramercy Tavern. Also works in the Kitchen at Maialino, opt opened up Maialino. I also spent a lot of time in college studying art history in the city of Rome. So, thus began my love affair with that city and everything about the food there. Today we'll be focusing on pizza, and one particular kind of pizza, which is one of my favorites, which is a thin crust Roman-style pizza. We're going to go over the techniques that it takes to make pizza, which I think are pretty easy. Nothing is too complicated. I'm talking about mixing flour and water, when to do it, how to do it. Then we're going to be talking about making sauces, and the ingredients that go into making good sauce. Then, after we talk about sauce, we're going to talk about the other things that go on pizza, whether it's olive oils, cheeses, meats. Then we'll be talking about cooking, which I think really is the easiest part. Especially at home, you're going to drop that pizza in the oven and forget about it, and you'll see how we do that. It's very very simple. So, I say that this class is really for anybody that loves pizza, whether you're a professional cook, and you've been doing this for a long time, you just want to learn more, or if you're a home cook who's never made a pizza once in your life. If you like eating pizza, then, you should know a little bit about making pizza, because I think that it's a fun process to go through. Anybody can learn this. I think that you can teach this to a 12-year-old kid, you can also teach it to a 35-year-old experienced cook. So, if you like pizza, you're gonna like this class 2. Making Dough, Roman Style: So, today we're going to be making Roman-style pizza, but what exactly does Roman-style mean? In Rome, there are two basic styles of pizza that I'm at least aware of, and one of them is called pizza al taglio. It's a thicker style pizza, and I think in the States, people often refer to it as Sicilian sometimes. It's not exactly the same as you see it here, but it's basically a square pizza that's baked in pans and has a higher rise to it. Then there's the second kind called pizza tonda, which basically means the round pizza, and we're going to be making that style today. It's a round, thin crust style pizza that you actually take a rolling pin to, and I think a lot of people in the pizza world would see that almost as a sacrilege, that you've done all this work to a dough, and made it nice and airy, and then you're popping out all that air. But to be quite honest with you, it's a style that I really like. There are so many different kinds of styles of pizza out there. Regionality is huge in Italy. You go from one region to the next, and each one is going to have its own way of doing things, and they're going to be super proud and say, "This is the right way to do it." There's Sicilian pizza, there is Neapolitan pizza, there's Roman pizza, they make pizza up North, pizza al metro. There's all different styles: long, skinny, square, round, thin, thick. So, we're focusing just on one style and hopefully today, when you walk away from this lesson, you have that same sort of love affair with this thin crust round pizza that I have. So, all you need to know to make good pizza, whether you're doing Roman pizza, Sicilian pizza, or Neapolitan pizza, is three things: water, flour, and some form of yeast. What makes it special or unique is the ways in which you combine those things in terms of the ratio, and that's the one secret I can't give away today, but I'm going to show you how you can come up with your own recipe. So, for my money, I think there are two basic steps to making a good pizza dough, and one of my tricks is that I like to make what I call a preferment, and what that means is that I take my pizza ingredients and I mix them one day prior to making the pizza and let them sit out at room temperature for the entire evening, hopefully for a full 24 hours, but I'd say at least 12 hours. So, 12-24 hours, you want to make this preferment. Go have some beers with your friends, go sleep, just make sure that you have it done the day before. All of this is done with just your hands. All you need is hands, and ingredients, and nothing else. So, you're taking flour, you're taking water. That was my bread flour. This is the water. This is the whole wheat flour that's going in, and then I'm going to opt to use this mother yeast that we make here. Like I said, if you don't have the mother yeast, you can always use commercial yeast. So, when you're mixing this flour and water together, all you want to make sure of is that there's no dry clumps. So, I'm getting into the corners, onto the bottom of the container, and just moving around the edges to make sure that all that flour is incorporated. It's not rocket science, it's just making sure that there's no dry flour, that everything is fully incorporated. I know at this point, it doesn't look like much. It just looks like a sloppy slurry in here, but over time and overnight, what you're going to see is this thing is going to bubble up a little bit. It's going to increase in volume, it's going to start to look airy, and then it looks like you've done something pretty significant. But right now, it just looks like a mess. So, this is the process by which you're introducing a lot of flavor to your pizza dough, and you're also making it more digestible because it's breaking down all the sugars in that flour, and it's going to make it delicious and digestible at the same time. So, you want to rest this at room temperature overnight, and by room temperature I mean roughly 60-80 degrees, anywhere in that window will be fine. If you're a few degrees lower than 60, a few degrees higher than 80, then you're okay, you just don't want to have it in a very hot area so don't put it right next to an oven or a heater, and don't put it right next to an air conditioner or definitely don't put it in the refrigerator. So, as you can see, this is the preferment that we just made, and then this is what it looks like the next day. As I said, it starts to bubble up, it almost triples in volume, so long as your yeast is doing its job, and so that's why I recommend that you try to use commercial yeast at home first, because I don't want you to be discouraged by, "Hey, my mother yeast wasn't doing its work." We've been working with mother yeast for a long time, so we know how to feed it, when to feed it, and making sure that it's constantly bubbling and constantly alive. But this is what you want, and you'll end up with this if you just use the dry powdered yeast that you buy in the store. This, right now, as you can see, is very alive and if you smell it, it's got like a kind of funky sour aroma, and that's a good thing. It's kind of the basis of making sourdough bread, so I often tell people that if you know how to make pizza dough, you also know how to make sourdough bread because that's essentially what it is. We're going to take this now and we're going to mix it with some more flour, so this was just the process that we administer to give the dough some really good nuanced flavor and to make it super digestible. Now, we're going to finish the process of actually making the dough itself. So, we're going to take this beautiful living creature that's been sitting on our counter overnight, and we're just going to use our hands here as much as possible, and get it all out into a bowl, and the whole process of making pizza dough can be done easily by hand, as you're about to see. We're just going to feed this now with some more water, some salt, and some more of that bread flour, and what you're looking for here is a pretty wet dough. Contrary to what you might think, it's a little bit counter-intuitive that if you want a crispy pizza, and something that's going to have a good crunch to it, the wetter the dough, the more crispy it's going to be. Because if you're cooking pizza in a pizza oven or at home on a pizza steel, you need to have the dough wet enough so that it can spend a lot of time on that oven floor before it burns, and that's how you achieve a crispy dough. If you take a dry piece of dough and then you put it onto a hot floor, what's going to end up happening is that it's going to burn before it gets crispy. So, you want to develop a good layer of crunch on the bottom. We refer to it as the up-skirt of the pizza because oftentimes, you'll see a pizza cook lift up the pizza and look underneath to make sure that bottom is completely and evenly charred, and you achieve that good up-skirt by having a nice wet dough. So, once this mass is starting to come together, it doesn't need to be fully incorporated, you turn it all out onto a deck and that's just the word that we use for tabletop. If you don't have a fancy marble table top at home, this'll work on stainless steel. It'll work well on a nice big butcher block as well. But really, any flat dry surface. The key is to have it nice and dry so you're not introducing any foreign moisture to it, because as you're working and trying to figure out what moisture level works best for you, you want to make sure that it's all measured and then the recipe that you're working with will provide you with a recipe that is a good basis for starting a basic pizza dough. But like I said, sometimes you might find, "Hey, I want to try one that's a little bit more wet, and I want to see what that's going to do to the dough." So, you measure it, you add it, and then make sure that there's no foreign moisture being added on the table itself. So, at this point, what I'm doing is I'm just trying to bring it all together, and as you can see, it's very sticky, it's sticking to my hands a lot. That's a good thing, it's going to look like a mess for quite a while until it starts to look like something that looks more like pizza dough, and that's perfectly fine. Now, as sort of a speed scratch, if you wanted to make this process go a lot faster, you can use a KitchenAid mixer if you have one of these mixers at home, with a dough hook, and you throw it in there, put it on high speed for about ten minutes, and you can accomplish this in about half the time. But I'd say that if you want to use your hands, and I think it's fun to use your hands, especially if you're making pizza for the first time, that you do it this way and you work it for 20 minutes because that's going to give you a sense of how this dough feels, and what you're looking for in terms of moisture content. You'll notice that as it gets worked, it's going to dry up. It's not really drying up, but what's going to happen is that it's absorbing the flour and it's getting worked, the gluten is being developed, and you'll end up with a smooth texture on the outside. So, at this point in the kneading process, while it's really still very wet and not completely formed, there's really no way you can mess this up. You just want to keep attacking it, and keep working it in and out. I generally like to use the palms of my hands because you get the most force there, and just pushing it through. As you can see, it's still sticking to my fingers quite a bit, and that's why I've recommended that if you don't want to get messy, you can use this machine and it'll do it for you, but I think it's a fun process to learn about how a dough feels the first time you do it. So, go through this process, it's going to feel like you're messing it up, but you're learning about moisture content in flour and water, you're seeing how they react together. So, as you can see with this dough after about 20 minutes of some good work on the counter top, you can see how it's now pulling away easier for my fingers, right? It's much less messy, and what you have is a much smoother exterior, right? So, this is kind of what you're looking for. When I stretch it, it doesn't have those grains anymore. It's much, much smoother. It's beautiful. You can still see those little specks of the whole wheat that I was talking about, which add a lot of flavor and texture to this dough. From here, we're pretty much ready to portion up our dough. I think that one of the important things about making pizza, or any kind of dough product at home, is to know the size of the portions that you're working with. With pizza in particular, you want to make sure if you're having some friends over and you're going to want to cook for them, it's okay if your pizzas are different shapes, but you don't want one person to have a tiny little pizza and another person to have a really big pizza. One of the only ways you can make sure that everybody's got the same portion is with a scale, and I encourage every home cook to have one of these scales because I think it has so many uses when you get into baking and cooking at home. So, we've discovered that working with this dough, that if you get it to 170 grams, that's the perfect size for a 11-to-12-inch pizza, which is for me a perfect personal pie. Now, if you're eating a 12-inch pie of Neapolitan dough, maybe you're going to be a little more full, but the beautiful thing about these pizzas is that they're going to be super thin crust, and you'll see that using just 170 grams, which in my estimation is a relatively small pizza, you're going to have a pretty wide circumference. If you're doing a Neapolitan dough, you probably are going to be up in the 200's like 250 or 260 for the same size pizza. So, just to give you a sense of how much less dough is going into making this Roman style pizza versus a more traditional Neapolitan pizza. So, I'm looking for 170, like I said, I'm going to cut off a piece, and it's okay if they're in a couple of little pieces because they're all going to come together at the end. This is another handy tool: a bench scraper. This is a very handy tool to have if you're making any kind of dough at home, but particularly pizza, and nothing fancy, you're just cutting straight into the dough. So, now that we have our portioned doughs, we're going to take these guys and we're going to form little balls. All you're doing is you're just forming your hand like a cup so that it is not flying away from you, and then just rolling it around, and by doing that, you've accomplished a nice round ball. Then you just want to tighten up that skin a little bit by taking your hand and you're going to have your pinky on the bottom, always in contact with the counter top, and just pulling. You want to make sure that as you're pulling that you're going quickly because if you go too slowly on the pulling technique, then you're going to stick to the dough because it's very, very moist. So, the great thing about this dough, the way that we've made it, is that since we've done that beautiful preferment, we've gotten a head-start on flavor and fermentation. So now, we could use this dough today if we wanted to, and if that were the case, we just leave these at room temperature lightly covered for about another hour or so, until they have a chance to proof and then we're ready to work with the dough and make pizza. If we wanted to as well, though, we could put it into the refrigerator and that retards the proofing process, what it means it just slows it down because it's continuing to ferment right now. If you put it in the refrigerator, because it's cold, the bacteria, it's going to slow down the process by which the dough ferments and rises. So, we can use this tomorrow, even up to two days, it could be in the refrigerator perfectly fine. If you're going to put it in the refrigerator, you want to take it out a half hour before you're going to use it, just so it has a chance to come up to room temperature before you roll it out. 3. Ingredients: So, the doughs are going to need rest whether you're putting it in the refrigerator overnight, or if you're going to be just resting it at room temperature, because you're ready to use it today. You're going to need a couple of hours to wait, at least. So, during that time, you're going to work on some ingredients to make this pizza really same. So like I said sourcing ingredients for pizza is super super important, finding the things that you like the best, and for me, I think the major building blocks for making great pizza have to do with tomatoes, olive oil, and cheese. Then, there's other flavoring ingredients that we're going to talk about a little bit, cured meat in particular for today. But then, that could range into vegetables, raw and cooked. We'll talk a little bit about when to cook things, when to keep them raw, when you're topping pizza. So, let's start with the basics, tomatoes and tomato-sauce. It's a popular misconception that tomato-sauce for pizza needs to be cooked before it goes onto the pizza, and I'm going to tell you that you should never do that. If you're going to be cooking pizzas with tomato sauce, it should be completely raw tomatoes. These are plum tomatoes or peristyle tomatoes, they have a lot of different names for them. Often times you'll hear people talk about San Marzano tomatoes. You don't need to use San Marzano tomatoes. In fact, finding San Marzano tomatoes can be very difficult. You'll often notice that, as a marketing ploy, what people will do, is they'll put San Marzano style tomatoes on the can, because actually finding real San Marzano tomatoes can be tricky, and I don't think it's 100% necessary to find those specific tomatoes. I think that they become very popular for a reason because they're good, but there's also great other tomatoes on the market. So, we're using actually tomatoes that came from California. These are peristyle tomatoes from California. They're canned, and that's perfectly fine, because what happens with most tomato producers, is that they can all of the tomatoes in the peak of season. So, when the tomatoes are best, they're harvesting them, they're canning them, and they end up with a great product. It's the same thing they do in Italy. If you go to any great pizza shop in Italy, very, very rarely will you see anybody making tomato sauce from fresh tomatoes. They're popping tomatoes out of a can because they are always guarantee that they're going to be in-peak season. Then, all you're doing is you're going to puree this, and you're going to pass it through a strainer. That's all that it takes to make good sauce. So, the way we've developed our sauce, is just by tasting different kinds of tomatoes, and seeing which ones we really liked. We like these, they have a good balance of sweetness and acidity. Maybe you like a tomato that has more acidity to it. So, keep tasting until you find that one that really makes your lips poker, and it's got a lot of acidity to it. I like a good balance of sweetened acidity. I will never add vinegar or sugar, or even salt to our base pizza sauce. Cheeses, that's another very important topic. You have all kinds of cheeses here for making our pizzas. Our workhorse cheese is a lower moisture Mazzarella. I say lower moisture, because all Mazzarella has a level of moisture in it. So, whether you're working with buffalo Mazzarella versus what they refer to as fior di latte, which is essentially what this is, it's a lower moisture Mazzarella that melts very well on pizza. If you were to use a wetter cheese, like a buffalo mozzarella, or I have here a house made stracciatella that we do, which is as hand pulled cards. It's almost like the inside of a burrata, if you've ever tried buratta. Very moist, it's in a cultured cream. So, it has stangy beautiful flavor to it. So, if you're working with something like stracciatella, or buffalo mozzarella that's very wet. I tend to want to put that on a pie after it comes out of the oven, meaning that this is the cheese that I choose to cook with, and this is the cheese that I choose to put on after cooking. I think it's very unique and fun to have a margarita style pizza, a classic tomato, and cheese pizza of that is topped after it comes out of the oven. I'll show you how we top those style pizzas in a little bit. Then we have drier cheeses. I love using Pecorino Romano, and especially since we're working with Roman pizzas today, it's a staple of the Roman diet. You see pecorino in so many dishes. I mean, there's the very famous casual peppe pasta dish that has this mix of black pepper and spaghetti. I'm going to show you a version of Carbonaro today too, which is a classic pasta sauce with pecorino black pepper and this beautiful Guanciale. What we're going to show you how to do a unique spin on a white pizza using this cheese. I think that using these cheeses again best when the pizza comes out of the oven, rather than cooking with it. This is a finished product that has been aged for a long time, and it's dry, and it's beautiful. There's no reason to manipulate this with heat, it should go on after the the pizza comes out of the oven. To talk just a little bit about olive oils, I usually like to work with a couple different kinds of olive oil: One for cooking, and one for going on raw after the pizza, and you'll see there's a theme here that there are certain things that I like to cook with, and certain things that I don't want to introduce at an intense heat too. Because, when you're cooking with pizza, you're working with very high heat. So, you're going to denature things, you're going to change flavors in that hot oven, and so, I use a much less expensive, much less nuance. It's not that this is a bad olive oil by any means, it's a delicious olive oil. But I'm not going to break the bank using an olive oil that I cook with. So, we found a great domestic olive oil from California that tastes great on its own, raw. It should taste good raw, but it's not going to make me nervous about using it in a cooking process and wasting unnecessary money for something that you're really are not going to taste all the nuance and the flavor of that olive from. Then, when I really want to taste that nuance flavor of olive, and I want to get that fruitiness, that grassiness, then I go to something that is a little more special, and that we do spend a little bit more money on. Here, we have an Olio verité. This is a Sicilian olive oil. I love it because it has a braininess to it almost like a sea saltiness to it, and it adds a great finishing punch to the pizza when it comes out of the oven. So, when I'm building pizzas and particularly when I'm building Margarita's, which is the basic pizza, to learn first, I really think this goes on before cooking, and this goes on after cooking. Then there's salt, and you might say okay, salt is salt which is generally true when it comes to flavor, but in terms of texture and how you apply salt to ingredients, and especially to pizza, I think that it's important to use the salt that has a texture that falls off your fingers very nicely. As you start working with pizza, you're going to see that your hands are going into cheese to sprinkle on top of things, and then you end up with moisture on your fingers, and when that happens, if you're using a kosher salt, or any sort of fine salt, that's going to stick to your fingers, and clump up, and it's not going to distribute evenly. But if you're using a course or sea salt, and I love using molten salt for this, it has beautiful, light, gentle flakes. So, you don't get big clumps of salt in any one area and it distributes very evenly. So, I think that's a cool trick to work with at home, not just for pizza but especially with pizza to work with molten salt to season things when you're going to have your hands dirty. Then, there's this beautiful piece of Guanciale. This is a domestically produced Guanciale from La Quercia in Iowa. They make delicious Italian style cured meats. It's very difficult sometimes to find somebody that's willing to import Guanciale from Italy. So, we're working with a domestic product. As a substitute at home, if you can't find Guanciale, you can use pancetta, you can even use bacon. I've made a lot of pizzas using bacon, and it comes out beautifully. Guanciale essentially, is, I call it face-bacon, and it's where you take the cheek or the jaw of a pig and you cure it with basically salt, a lot of pepper and some herbs, and then your heat it until it gets this beautiful crust, and a really developed robust porky flavor to it. It has a funk to it that I really like. So, if you can find Guanciale, by all means use it. It is a staple of the Roman diet, it is the backbone for a lot of pasta sauce as I mentioned carbonara, but it's also used and Amachi Ichana, which is a spicy tomato sauce based on pasta sauce. But, we're going to use it today for our Carbonaro pizza which you're going to see in moments. While we're on the topic of cured meats, there's all sorts of different kinds of cured meats that you can use on pizza. I mean, obviously pepperoni is a classic. I love pepperoni. Instead of using pepperoni here, at the restaurant, what we do is we take spicy Soap Rosada, and we slice that really thin into functions, and taste once it's cooked just like pepperoni. Depending on what kind of cured meat you're using, you have to make the choice, whether it's going to be cooked or raw. For example, when I use prosciutto, which is amazing prosciutto di parma, prosciutto San Daniele. I don't like to cook that in the oven, because I think again, that's a beautiful handcrafted product that is finished, it has been aged for a year, and it's got such a great texture. So, I like to put prosciutto on pizzas after they come out of the oven, and just gently melts on top of that crust. When I'm working with something that's a little bit more sturdy and robust like a piece of Guanciale, or pancetta, or sope Rosada, peperoni. Those I tend to want to put in the oven, and sometimes, depending on the piece of meat. Like for instance, with this Guanciale, I'll cook it even before it goes in the oven, so that it can get some crispiness to it. So, you'll see that if I work with Guanciale or bacon, I'm going to cut it into small pieces, render it until it's not completely crispy, but almost there. That way, those half rendered pieces will go into the oven and finish and become really crispy when they come out. So, generally speaking when you're making pizzas at home, you have to access your ingredients and ask yourselves, "Is this going to be something that's going to cook in three minutes in a very hot oven?" If the answer is no, then obviously you have to cook it ahead of time. So, when you're working with vegetables, like if you have big mushrooms that need some breaking down, you might want to roast those a little bit ahead of time before they go into the oven. If you're using thin sliced mushrooms that don't need a lot of breaking down, then they can go on raw when it goes into the oven, and they cook perfectly fine. So, we have our canned tomatoes here, and the way we're going to make our sauces simply by pureeing them. You can do this in a blender, but I find it's much easier, and often times neater to do it with an immersion blender, or a stick blender. These are pretty easy to find in any kitchenware shop. So, all you're looking for with this tomato sauce, is to make sure that there's no big clumps left in it. We're going to strain this through a strain to make sure that we've caught everything in there, because we don't want to have any big lumps especially on this Roman style pizza, because it's such a thin crust that it's very delicate. If we had big chunks of tomato, would weigh down sections of the dough more than we'd want. So, next we're going to strain our sauce and it's important that you have a strainer that has relatively big holes. If we were using a very fine mesh strainer, then we'd lose a lot of volume in the sauce. We want to get a strainer with relatively big holes in it, so that we're just catching any big chunks or any big seeds that might not have been caught by the blender. So, now we're pressing all these tomatoes through these big holes using a ladle. So, any big chunks that were left in there, if there are any, you're using the back end of the ladle to push it down to the base of the strainer. This can also be done through a vegetable mill, if you don't want to puree, and pass this way. A vegetable mill is one of those tools that you often use for making mashed potatoes. You might be asking yourself, "Why not just buy some pureed canned tomatoes? Why go through all this trouble?" The reason is, it's just going to taste so much better if you get the whole peeled tomatoes as opposed to the deiced or the pureed. Because, even if they're coming from the exact same producer, it's going to taste not as fresh if you're using something that's already been processed. So, the freshness is really key here. You want a very fresh vibrant tasting tomato sauce, and that's accomplished by doing this. The last thing I like to do before I know that my sauce is ready, is I check out the viscosity. Sometimes, you're working with tomatoes that are very thick, and depending on the brand that you use, if you have a very thick tomato sauce, don't be afraid to add a little bit of water, and the reason why that's important is that if you end up with a pasty substance on your pizza after it cooks, it's not going to taste as good, it's not going to taste as fresh, and it's going to leave you with some indigestion. 4. Rolling the Dough: Okay. So, the basics for rolling out this Roman thin crust pizza are here. You need a rolling pin, and this is something that you'll never see happen in Naples. The kinds of pizza they make there is always hand stretched, because they want that airy dough, that bubbly crust, a thicker style of crust. What we're looking for here is a very thin crust. We also need some bench flour, and regardless of what kind of pizza you're making, you always need some bench flour, and Bench flour is just a fancy word for the extra flour you use to put on top of the table top surface. If you have a marble table top, awesome. It's the best kind of surface to use for rolling a pizza. But if you don't, just make sure you have a dry clean surface whether it's a wooden butcher block or a stainless steel table. Then you have your dough, which we were talking about has doubled in size almost, and takes about 24 hours in the refrigerator to get to this stage, because the refrigerator slows down the proofing time. If you were doing it at room temperature, it would take about three hours to get to the stage. But in the refrigerator, I'd say about 24 hours. It's important that the rolling pin that you select is a flat rolling pin, not a tapered rolling pin, so that you get a nice even flat crest. So, the first thing we need to do before we turn our pizza doughs out is we want to flour the bench. So, we do that with a sprinkling motion. The reason why you want to do it this way as opposed to putting flour down and moving around with your hands, is when you move flour around with your hands, you end up with lots of blank spots. So, the best way that any baker, or any pizza person can make a nice evenly flowered bench is by sprinkling and throwing as opposed to spreading out with your hands. A nice even spread. Then we're going to take our scraper and just shimmy it underneath, very gently. Then turn it out the other way. The reason I've turned it out the other way is so that I can get some flour on the other side, so that both sides are well floured, so we can begin rolling them out. So, I like to think about the rolling process as a two stage process. We're going to roll them out until they're halfway where they need to be, and then let them rest again because there's a lot of elasticity in this pizza dough. We've developed a lot of gluten from the time that we've worked it, either the 20 minutes of knidding or the 10 minutes machine. Whatever you chose, you've added a lot of elasticity to this dough, so you need to make sure that you're not over- you're only working too hard if you don't do this two stage process. So first, by hand. I'm just going to pat it down flat. Then using the rolling pin, I'm going to work from the center out. So, from the center outwards this way, from the center down towards me. Likewise to the sides. Then after each go round of those four directions, front, back, side, side, I'm going to lift the dough up and make sure that it's not sticking. You'll see I'll repeat that process. Front, back, side, side. You want to apply a decent amount of pressure, but always making sure that you're going from the center out, because you don't want to roll over the same part twice because all you're doing is encouraging that elasticity to come back to the center. So, front, back, side, side, with good pressure. Then at that point, we're going to set this aside, and let it rest for a second. At this point of the process, this first stage, it's not so important what size it gets worked out for you. You just want to work it out to roughly halfway to where it needs to be, because all that you're doing here is starting the initial flattening out process, and letting it relax. Once we go into the second stage, then I'm going to show you exactly the size that we're looking for. You'll see if you get up close here, that there is some air bubbles that are forming up here. If you were making a Neapolitan style dough, having air pockets like that is desirable, and so you want to keep those. So, you would hand stretch it and very gently, so that you have all that air in there. But for us, and for the kind of pizza that we're making today, this Romans style pizza, we're actually trying to knock that air out. A lot of people would say, "Oh, that's not what you're supposed to be doing." But who's going to tell a Roman pizza maker that he shouldn't be doing it that way, they've been doing that way for 100 years, and I think it's pretty delicious. So, this is stage one of the rolling process. As you can see, they're not perfectly round, nor will they be perfectly round when I'm finished with them, because I'm not a perfect pizza yolo, and that doesn't bother me at all. But they are going to be delicious no matter what shape they are, but the size does matter because we want to get the thickness right. So, if we get it to 12 inches, we know the thickness is going to be just right for this particular crust. So, we have right here a 12 inch pizza plate. We can see that it hasn't come all the way out there. It's maybe about three quarters of the way there, but doesn't quite fit. What we want to end up with is a pizza dough that comes all the way out to the edges of these, and even just a little bit past. Because when it cooks, it's going to retract just a touch. So, stage one of the rolling is complete. The doughs have been resting for just about three to five minutes not too long. Then we're going to flour our bench again. We're going to finish these off and get them to that perfect 11 or 12 inch size that we're looking for. So, we flower the bottom of the bench, flower on the top of the pizza crust as well. The same process. Just a little bit more aggressive with the pressure now. That was just a few rolls like that, we should be just about the right size, and what we'll do is we'll take this pizza plate just to be sure. We see that it's just coming out beyond the edge of the pizza plate, and that means that we're going to be perfect. Because it's going to retract just a little bit once it goes into the oven. Then when you're transferring your dough, always be sure to use the backs of your hands and not the tips of your fingers, because if you use the of your fingers, you're going to pierce right through the pizza dough. So, when you're moving the dough around, lift it up gently and use the backs of your hands. 5. Dressing Your Pizza: So, once you have your dough at this right size, it's just coming out beyond the edge of this plate, then you're ready to dress. I would recommend that for the first few pies you do, it's like if you've ever made crepes before, the first one might not be perfect and so it's nice to have a few throwaways instead of throwing these away there you're probably going to eat them. So, it's nice to work with just a little bit of basic tomato sauce and to get used to that saucing technique. So, this is the sauce that we've made just by pureeing canned tomatoes and the ladle is a very important tool. For me, I like using a nice round ladle and anywhere from two to three ounces depending on how much sauce you like. This is a three-ounce ladle, so we're going to use this for a slightly more heavily-sauced pie. So, the technique is just to drag it out of the container and then whatever container using, it's always smart to use the side of the container to just wipe the back of the ladle before you transfer, so you just minimize the amount of mess that's going onto your bench. You always want to keep a nice dry bench whenever you're making pizza. So, scraping on the back of that table, straight over to the pizza, dump everything right in the center. That's the first move, is to dump right in the center and then using the bottom of your ladle, you're going to push from the center outwards, making sure that all of the sauce is getting pushed to the edges and there's not a big clump of sauce in the middle. So, the technique is just to make circles, getting bigger and bigger as you go out and as you can see I'm forming small little rings that go all the way around. For this Roman-style pizza, we like them dressed very far to the edge. So, not so much crust showing without sauce. Allright, and then we spoke about olive oils before. We're going to dress this with a little bit of our cooking olive oil and this makes a big difference because the way that tomato sauce cooks with a little bit of this fat is very different than this tomato sauce will cook without any fat at all. It comes out looking dry and pasty without this but with the olive oil and the fat, it adds not only flavor, but it gives a nice sheen to the sauce and it keeps it nice and runny. Then we're going to add a little bit of salt. We don't have any salt in the sauce yet, and so like I said we have our pans that have been flowered, everything's messy. So, it really helps to have this course morton salt. It ss very easy to sprinkle. Just a light sprinkle. 6. Cooking Your Pizza: So, one very essential tool for making this Roman-Style Thin Crust pizza is this perforated, very thin pizza peel. There's a lot of different kinds of pizza peels. There's thick wooden ones. There's thicker steel ones. There's ones without perforations. It's very important that you get a thin one that is perforated because it's the most delicate. It's going to be able to sweep underneath this very thin dough. And it's going to release, also, a lot of flour that's been on the bottom of this bench because usually, when you're making pizzas, you don't need as much bench flour as you do for this Roman pizza crust because of how thin and it is, how sticky it can be. So, this releases some of that flour. So, you don't have an excess on the bottom of the pizza when it goes into the oven. This is the only part that requires some level of technique and finesse. But after sometime, it becomes very very simple to do because it's a very thin tool and gets under that pizza very well. So, as a sweep, you want to keep the pizza peel at an angle, almost 45 degrees on the table. And then, just push it pretty quickly under the dough and you don't need to get all the way under, you can get about halfway first. And then, take the other half when you get there. I'll show you exactly how that's done. So, I got about halfway and then to push it again and push it again until it sweeps onto the cross. I can show you that one more time. Get under halfway, halfway. You can see it's wrinkling up and that doesn't bother me at all because I can always pull it back and straighten it out. Just by shaking like that, you can straighten out the dough. And once it's on this peel, then you can just tap it gently and that releases some of the flour from underneath and then we can get transfer it right into the oven. Now, I'm working with a wood-burning oven. At home, you can use a pizza steel that you heat into the oven for 45 minutes before you go in there and it's so much easier because you don't have to be worrying about spinning the pie over and over again. For about five minutes, the pizza should be done. You check it after five minutes. But if a pizza steel has been heating in your oven at maximum temperature, and most home ovens get to about 550 so if you can get it to 600, even better, just jack it all the way up and then have that hot pizza still waiting for you. But I'm going to throw into this wood-burning oven and we're going to have to spin it a few times to make sure that doesn't char too much on one side versus the other. So, when you're working with a wood-burning oven versus a home oven, the flame is built on one side. So, that means that you're getting side heat hotter on one than on the other. You have to make sure that the pie spins a couple times. Usually, it's two spins so you can get three sides of the pizza evenly charred. In a home oven, that's a lot easier because the heat is circulating all the way around the dough in an even temperature so long as your oven is working properly. You don't ever have to worry about it. I would keep the oven door closed the entire time and check it after three minutes to make sure that you have good, even charring. If it needs a spin, if you feel like the back of your oven's hotter than the front, then you can give it a spin but, generally speaking, with home cooked pizzas in a home oven, on top of a pizza steel, you don't have to spin them. So, one other essential tool that's a little restaurant trick for making a great crispy pizza, whether it's a Roman thin crust or any other style, is to have one of these perforated resting racks. And what this does is, when you pull the pizza out of the oven and you lay it on top of this, it gives a place for the steam and the heat that's being generated by the bottom of that pizza crust to escape. Rather than it going directly on a flat surface where that steam is trapped and starts to make the crust a little bit soggy. So, that initial ten seconds when the pizza lands, if it's landing on a resting rack, you're going to end up with a much crispier crust because you allowed that steam to escape. And when our pizzas done, we're going to take the same pizza peel and just gently sweep it off the floor. And then, transfer to a rack. You're going to be able to pick the pizza up and it should be very sturdy and you should be able to see on both sides, right. You get a nice, even charring on the bottom and nice, even charring around the crust, as well. And, this is just a classic red pie, a marinara. It's a great way to practice and to get good at your technique of sweeping and pulling out of the oven. And you can see that it's kind of crackery on the edges. But then where it sauced, you still have some bend to it. It can bend without cracking. But on the edges where it's not sauced, it has that crack to it. And that's the key to me for a good Roman thin crust pizza is having both the crack and the chew present in the dough. 7. Getting Creative With Ingredients: All right. So, when you're making a pie that is not a red pie, in other words, a pie that is not going to be sauced, you have to treat it a little bit differently. Because when you're putting sauce on a pie, you're putting weight on top of it and that weight is keeping everything from bubbling up. Right now, since I'm not going to have sauce on it, I will have bits and pieces of things that are going on top of this pie, but no particular sauce. So, in order to compensate for the lack of sauce, we need to use a fork or a docker to poke holes, definitely around the crust, very aggressively because that will not get any sauce and then a few throughout the center as well. What that'll do is just prevent it from bubbling up on you and then having all the toppings fall off because there's no sauce to hold it into place. So, that's step one of making any white pie that does not have any sauce on it, whatsoever. Here, we're going to get a little creative. We're going to play with a Roman dish called carbonara, which is a pasta sauce made from eggs, black pepper, pecorino and guanciale which is that delicious cured pork jowl. You can substitute bacon or pancetta, but I love using this guanciale if you can get your hands on it. So, I've lightly rendered the guanciale first so that it's almost like halfway crispy, but not quite there. Then, I have the fat saved right here in the squeeze bottle, okay? So instead of using olive oil, I'm going to use guanciale fat to dress this pie, which I think add so much cool funky flavor to it. You can get really playful with this stuff now. When we first made this pizza, we were just making a potato pizza and we were saying, "I'd love to have crumbled potatoes and olive oil on top of pizza." We add it, it was delicious, but not as delicious as we thought it could be. So, we kept playing around and said, "How do we make these potatoes more delicious?" So, we started adding things like pepper, pecorino cheese and then we added guanciale, and then we said, "Wouldn't be cool if we threw egg on top of this?" All of a sudden, we have all the makings for carbonara and it happened by accident. So, I would encourage you at home to go through that same process. Talk about ingredients that you guys like to cook with at home and say, "Would that taste good on a pizza?" Pretty much, no savory ingredient that I've encountered that doesn't work well on a pizza. We've played with all different kinds of things. So, taking this crumbled potato and all we did with this is we just boiled potatoes, skins on in heavily salted water. We left the skins on and just crumble them up. So, if you have leftover baked potatoes or some sort of boiled potatoes or roasted potatoes the night before, you can totally use this for this because it's nothing fancy. It actually looks like a complete mess, right? It's just crumbled bits of potato that are not fancy in any way. So, we're going to sprinkle those all across the top of this pie, scattered above. You don't have to be too meticulous. If it's not completely perfectly even, that's totally fine. Pizza shouldn't be a super serious thing, have some fun with it. Then, we're going to take a big chunk of this guanciale and scatter these bits around. I love this stuff. It has a super, like I said, funky robust flavor. It's more interesting than using just straight up a pancetta or bacon, but pancetta or bacon will work just fine. I mean, who doesn't like bacon on pretty much anything? But, if you can find this guanciale, it's a very special ingredient. It's something that is very close to any Roman's heart. Then to top this all off, we're going to take some of this rendered guanciale fat and give a generous sprinkle all across the top of this pizza and that's it. The other ingredients are going to go on after like we've talked about with the dry cheeses. Dry cheeses you want to put on after the pizza comes out of the oven and likewise with this egg. That's sort of unique thing, a little twist that we put on things. Just take some raw scrambled egg, whip it up, put it in a squeeze bottle and then when the pizza comes out of the oven, right when it comes out of the oven, it's still very hot, hit it with that egg and it's just going to barely set that scrambled egg right on top of the pie which is the residual heat from the pizza oven. So, right when it's out of the oven, you want to hit it with this egg. Then, to make it true carbonara, we're going to add some pecorino and black pepper to it and a couple of good handfuls of pecorino. What that does is it melts kind of into that egg and onto the dough. It becomes sort of like the glue that's holding the egg onto that pizza dough. As you can see, it's bubbled up quite a bit more because this was a sauceless pie, went into the oven without any sauce, so you get all these big bubbles. So, in some ways, you might say, "Okay, that's not super thin crust." But all that's in there is air, that's only air in there. So, it's still a super super thin crust, very crispy, and then top it with black pepper. Then this is like a breakfast pizza. It's like your bacon and egg pizza, Roman style. If we're going to slice it, do it right when it comes out of the oven. You can see it has great texture to it. I can hold it in any point of the dough and it's not breaking on me. That egg is just barely set on there. Slide that right onto our plate, carbonara pizza. So, this is like a bacon egg and cheese pizza, Roman style, so it could totally be served for breakfast, although I eat it all times a day. If you're afraid of runny eggs and maybe this pizza is not for you because it definitely has that runny egg quality to it, but do keep in mind that when this pizza comes out of the oven, it's about 600 degrees, so you are setting those eggs quite a bit and cooking them essentially when they hit that pie and then topping it with that pecorino that helps make this beautiful creamy sauce right on top. 8. Pizza Steel (for Crispy Crust at Home): So, the chances are that you don't have a wood-burning oven at home like we have here. So the best thing you can do for yourself is buy one of these pizza steels, and it's a great tool for making pizza at home. It retains flour temperature very well which is key. Super key to making especially this Roman thin-crust pizza is to have flour temperature hot hot hot for a long period of time so you can get that nice upstart, that beautiful crust, and the crispy texture. So, you get that crack and chew in the Roman style thin-crust pizza. So, I would recommend when using one of these pizza steels, that you just crank your oven all the way up, if it can go to 600, great. A lot of home ovens only go to 550, and if that's the case, it'll still work. But just crank it as high as it can possibly go, and put the steel in there for an hour to ensure that's it's going to be as hot as possible before you put your pizza in. When you're transferring to it, it's so easy. Because when you're working with a wood-burning oven like we have at the restaurant, it takes some skill and some know how to play with the fire, and you got to keep spinning the pizza. But with these at home, they hold a very even heat and very even temperature in a home oven, and so you hardly ever have to spin it. You check it after three minutes and then see if it needs one spin, but that's the maximum that you'll need to do. So, you don't need to play with the pizza a lot. The technique, again, is you're sweeping it at 45-degree angle underneath, tapping that flour off, and then you open the door to your oven. Keep it on the top rack, because when it's on the top rack, you're getting the top heat from the ceiling of the oven, and you're getting the bottom heat from this peel which is very important. Then, sliding it on. This pizza should fit perfectly onto the steel. Slide it right off. Then, you close the oven, and you forget about it. 9. Let's Eat!: So, I've showed you some basic techniques on how to build pizzas the Roman thin-crust way, showed you some specific tools to use, but I think it's important to remember that there really are no rules. The great thing about pizza no matter what style you're doing, but particularly with this Roman style, is that you can get playful with it. Use different kinds of ingredients, use things that you would've never thought to put on pizza before like the egg that we showed. Have fun with eggs, do other kinds of breakfast pizzas with eggs. Use different kinds of vegetables, raw greens, cooked greens, really anything that you like eating on a normal basis for dinner or for lunch or even for breakfast, you can find ways to make that fit on a pizza. That's what I love about this, it's not a super serious food. It's not something that ever is served on a fancy table with linens or fancy service. It's something that's done kind of like the way a New Yorker would treat a hot dog. So, we try to treat it a little more intentionally. We put a lot of thought into the ingredients that we bring into the restaurants to make sure that we're serving the best possible version of Roman pizza that we can, and I would encourage you at home to do the same. Find things that you think are super special in your hometown, or from your local farms, or from your local market, and then apply them to this sort of Roman canvas, this thin-crust pizza and I think you'll have a lot of success with a lot of different kinds of ingredients on top of it. So, let's talk a little bit about the best part, which is eating the pizza and just digging in. Once you've cooked the pizza, I think it's very important to play with all those toppings, the oregano, the cheeses, the chili flake, all those kinds of things that you like to play with, do them right when it comes out of the oven. So, my only real rule is that once the pizza hits the table, all you should be doing is eating, all the playing happens in the oven, and right when it comes out of the oven. Then you have to make the decision, are you going to pick up the pie and eat it with your hands or are you going to use the knife and fork? I always opt for using the hands. I just think it just is such a more intimate experience to be able to fold the pie up like this and get a bite. Now, some people will opt to not fold their pie and leave it flat and open. The reason I like to fold it up is I feel like it holds everything in there really nicely if you can pinch a little bit and so that you know that the cheese is being pulled away. It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me to use a knife and fork, it just feels wrong with such a rustic piece of food like this. Now, we've sliced this pie up right when it came out of the oven into six pieces like this with a pizza cutter, but you don't need to do that. You can serve it whole right away, and you still don't even need to use the knife and fork, you could totally just tear apart pieces of it and just go to town like that. But if you insist that you have to use a knife and fork, go for it. That's your prerogative. So, thanks so much for joining me for this pizza lesson. Hopefully, you picked up some cool techniques on how to build your own Roman thin-crust pizza. Play with these techniques, have some fun at home. Can't wait to see what you come up with. I'm going to go eat this pizza.