The legendary pizzaiolo from Pizzeria Bianco shares his favorite recipes in a new book.
At Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix, Arizona, chef Chris Bianco has been holding the attention of America's food critics for almost 30 years. The awards and media accolades are almost too many to list, and frankly, don’t adequately represent his contribution to pizza in this country. People feel very, very strongly about this pizza.
Since he announced his first cookbook, Bianco: Pizza, Pasta, and Other Food I Like, in 2013, the culinary world has been eagerly awaiting the project, which hits shelves today. Inside, you’ll find delicate small plates, classic desserts, as well as plenty of the understated and incongruous pizzas that made the restaurant famous. And, of course, the holy grail of the pizzamaking practice: Chris Bianco’s recipe for pizza dough.
“Before you make the dough for the first time,” writes Bianco, “I want you to pour yourself a glass of the water you’ll be using and drink it.” For a master of Bianco’s particular craft, details like this become paramount. In the realm of pizza dough, water isn’t neutral—“It is going to rehydrate the flour, and its warmth will bring the yeast back to life.”
He applies this same attention to all the ingredients in his dough, of which there are only four. Work with a yeast you trust—Bianco uses active dry yeast—and be sure not to skimp on the fine ground salt (“It’s rare to see someone muck up a bread with too much salt.”)
Flour, of course, is the most important component. Bianco recommends flours that are higher in protein, one factor that contributes to that elusive “chew.” Find a flavor you like—Bianco suggests that, “if you’re lucky enough to have a good mill near where you live, pay them a visit and ask them about their flour.”
Bianco betrays his sentiment for the pizza process in his loving instructions for making and shaping the dough, from the “happy yeast-y smell” of the first step to the way the dough “will start to relax—like we relax when we are on a sofa.” He emphasizes that dough is, for him and for everyone, a deeply personal process. In his words, “this basic dough recipe is only an early survey of a journey you get to finish yourself.”
Bianco: Pizza, Pasta, and Other Food I Like by Chris Bianco, $24 on amazon.com.