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Pizza: Lockeland Style

In our last blog, we talked about the Margherita pizza. If you’ve ever been to Lockeland Table, you know that we have our own wood-burning oven. What guests may not know, is that we not only make our own dough we make our own mozzarella as well. We pride ourselves in being artisanal, if you will.

Many places that you go for pizza may not make their own dough in house. We make ours fresh. It’s a 3-day process, however. We make it, allow it to proof, portion it, and then allow it to proof again. We don’t actually use it until the third day. It’s a daily routine. We always have dough in one of those stages.

After creating the base of the pizza, the dough, we then begin to build up.

We start with tomatoes from San Marzano, Italy. Our extra virgin olive oil is sourced from Georgia and the salt we use for finishing is mined in the great state of West Virginia, of which I am a native.

hal_in_kitchenReally Cheesy
We not only make our own mozzarella from scratch, we smoke it. That’s a process too. One I enjoy very much.

In order to make pulled fresh mozzarella, you must start with curd. We cut it uniformly and place it strategically in a very large bowl. We have a certain recipe of water and salt that we bring to a boil and then poured over the curd.

We then begin to pull the curd towards us with wooden spoons. As we pull, in time, it becomes a beautiful, shiny melty mass. This stage of the production always reminds me of a taffy machine, like the ones you see on the boardwalk of a beach where the mechanical arms pull the taffy. That is very similar to how we pull the mozzarella as we get near to the end of the process.

Once the mozzarella has been pulled, and has reached the proper consistency, we drain off the water and form it into small balls which are placed into cold water. We then store those. That is now the cheese. When it’s time to be used, we tear it and place it on pizzas for service as needed. if you ever happen to be at LT while the cheese is being made, we will often pinch off sample bites for friends and staff. It might just be the freshest mozzarella you may have ever tasted.

I sometimes enjoy making mozzarella between the hours of 5 and 7 o’clock in the evening, before service gets too busy and I have the time for such a project. When I have the proper amount of time for the process, I find myself enjoying it. On days where the clock may be ticking a bit too fast to my liking, making the cheese from scratch can become a time issue and stressful.

mozarellaQuality, Not Convenience.
We have tried to use some high-quality, pre-made mozzarella products and have never found one that we like more than what we can make here ourselves. It’s often the water that leaks out of a pre-bought product that I find unfavorable. Homemade product doesn’t release water the way the store bought versions do.

With that being said, we will continue to make our own mozzarella at Lockeland Table. I have now made it so many times over the past couple of years, that I feel very confident with our procedure and outcome.

At the end of the day, it’s a pride issue. When you’ve had the chance to see the preparation through from the beginning to the end, it brings a sense of pride. Since we get to experience this every week, we have pride in the final product that we’re serving.

Who knows, perhaps this mozzarella process could be an upcoming Saturday morning class hosted at LT. Who’s in?

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