With his essential Dallas pizzeria Cane Rosso, Jay Jerrier has made a name for himself as something of a Neapolitan pizza fanatic. And while Jerrier is an expert on that thin crust style, he's also known for taking risks and creating pizzas that he calls "a little out there." Case in point: The Delia, which is topped with mozzarella, arugula, and bacon marmalade and is named for one of Jerrier's rescue dogs.
One of Cane Rosso's top sellers, the Delia has been on the menu from the beginning. Jerrier was inspired by the flavors of a classic BLT, and had played with the idea of putting crispy prosciutto or pancetta on the pie, but it wasn't enough of a creative leap for him.
He says the Delia is a good reflection of the philosophy of his shop: "Neapolitan dough is a good canvas, a way to showcase interesting ingredients. Delia is one of our [recipes] where really we take some interesting ingredients, put it on our pizza, and cook it in the a traditional method."
Eater Dallas editor Whitney Filloon explains the impact Jerrier has had on the Dallas pizza scene:
"Jay Jerrier's Neapolitan phenomenon Cane Rosso helped redefine the way Dallas eats pizza — that is, without a side of ranch dressing. The dining scene is all the better for it, and Dallas no longer content to gnaw on cardboard-y crusts slathered in commercial mozzarella. Cane Rosso's pies have inspired many an imitator, and the crown jewel of the menu is arguably the Delia. The sweet-and-meaty bacon marmalade combined with the slightly bitter bite of arugula on a perfectly chewy, charred crust makes for a damn fine breakfast eaten straight from the fridge, if you can somehow restrain yourself from eating the whole thing at dinner."
Below, the elements of the Delia pizza at Cane Rosso:
1. The Dough
With the traditional Neapolitan pizza dough recipe he uses for other pies at the pizzeria, Jerrier combines Cuputo or San Felice double zero flour with a little bit of salt and yeast. He says he uses a very tiny amount of yeast, so small in fact that he had to buy a drug scale to measure it to the milligram.
Jerrier notes that while most Neapolitan pizza dough recipes are similar, what makes each unique is the level of hydration and how long the dough proofs. Jerrier keeps his dough at 60-63% hydration. He mixes the dough in a Mecnosud fork mixer because it's gentle and slow, so it doesn't heat the dough. Jerrier then proofs the dough in bulk for about 12 hours. He then portions it into balls, and the dough proofs for an additional six to eight hours, with the goal being that each batch is proofed for a full 24 hours. Jerrier proofs the dough at room temperature, which allows the flavors of the yeast to remain subtle but bready. The long, room-temperature proofing process also encourages the dough to form large air pockets, which result in a "crisp, light, and airy crust."
2. The Cheese
In a labor-intensive choice, Jerrier uses house-made mozzarella cheese on the Delia. Jerrier decided to go with mozzarella because it melts nicely and gets brown spots in the oven. Finding pre-formed mozzarella balls insufficiently creamy, Jerrier and his team make their own from Grande Fine Italian Cheeses' whole milk mozzarella curds. Making "hundreds and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of pounds" a day," Jerrier's team breaks down the curd by stirring it in hot salted water with a wooden paddle. When the curd stretches and gets bright white and "elastic-y," the teams balls them up and then drops them into an ice bath for up to 24 hours. Jerrier says that the cheese-making job has the highest turnover of any position in his kitchen because it requires the cook to have his hands in 180-degree water for hours at a time.
3. The Bacon Marmalade
The ingredient that gets customers the most excited about the Delia pizza is the spicy bacon marmalade, Jerrier explains. The recipe was inspired by a bacon marmalade he sampled from Seattle's Skillet truck. While he changes up which kind of bacon he uses depending on whether he can get some from local chef friends, Jerrier often uses Wright Brand bacon. In a pan, Jerrier combines the chopped bacon with shallots, garlic, sugar, chili flakes, sherry vinegar, and Calabrian chilis. Over the course of about 20 minutes, the bacon and shallots render and the sugars caramelize. (Jerrier adds that in contrast to the physically taxing cheese-making job, being on marmalade duty is a well-loved task at the restaurant because it smells so good.) Because the marmalade gets better the longer it sits, Jerrier leaves it for about four hours to cool down before putting in the walk-in overnight and serving it the next day.
4. The Vegetables
Wanting to evoke the idea of a BLT without being too literal, Jerrier tops the pie with slow roasted grape tomatoes and fresh arugula. Before assembling the pie, Jerrier roasts grape tomatoes with olive oil, salt, and garlic at 200 degrees. He leaves the tomatoes whole, wanting the diner to experience them popping as they bite. Jerrier decided on arugula for its peppery flavor. That bite, Jerrier explains, is important to balance out the sweetness and spice from the bacon marmalade. Although flavor-wise it "holds up well against other toppings," arugula is also delicate, so Jerrier adds it only after the pie is out of the oven.
5. The Assembly
The foundation of the Delia pizza is its thin crust. Jerrier takes a ball of dough and uses his fingertips to thin it out and push the air pockets towards the edges until it is eight to nine inches round. The dough is soft and sticky, so the process of stretching it out can be challenging. Once on the peel, Jerrier gives the dough a final stretch, bringing it to 13-14 inches.
Jerrier then adds about 80-90 grams of mozzarella and scatters a handful of the roasted tomatoes onto the pie. Jerrier says that when it comes to adding bacon marmalade to the pie "everybody likes as much as possible," so he uses a generous three to four ounces. While not a listed ingredient, basil is on almost every pie at the shop and Jerrier sometimes adds it to the Delia from force of habit. Before it goes into the oven, Jerrier gives the pie a squirt of Academia Barilla 100% extra virgin olive oil, which he likes for its mild, fruity flavor.
The pizza then goes into Cane Rosso's custom oven, which was designed by Italian oven guru Stefano Ferrara. The oven burns Texan white oak wood at a staggering 900 degrees. Jerrier chose white oak because it is abundant in Texas and it doesn't produce too much smoke. Jerrier explains that a wood like mesquite would impart its smoky character to the pizza, whereas he wants the wood in his oven to burn more for heat than for smoke.
Jerrier moves the pie once in its 75 second cooking process, rotating it 180 degrees to make sure the pie is cooked evenly. Just before taking the pizza out of the oven, Jerrier "domes" it by using the peel to lift the pie up into the top region of the oven. Doming the pizza gives the pie quick exposure to the fire, which finishes melting the cheese. Once the pie is out of the oven, Jerrier adds the arugula and a final swirl of olive oil. He estimates that the entire assembly process, from unstretched ball of dough to finished pie is only three and a half minutes.