2010 April: Ask Chef Jeff

Q: We sell a lot of subs and sandwiches. We use sub rolls, whole-wheat sub rolls, wraps and Ciabatta bread for panini. We really want to add a hamburger to the menu but don’t really want to add another bread like a hamburger roll. Is there anything we can do with what we already have!

 

 

 

A: My simple solution for you is to offer hamburger subs. You can use two 2-ounce burgers on a small sub, three on a medium and four on a large.

We switched from using sheet pans and plastic wrap to stackable dough trays. Every aspect of storing dough this way is better, but the dough seems to start rising in the dough trays and is causing them to grow into each other. Do we need to cut down our yeast?

If your pizza dough formula works well, then don’t lower your yeast — that will change your end product. The problem is air circulation in the sealed dough tray. Here’s what I used to do to eliminate the dough from growing. Fist of all, I would make my dough with cold water using instant dry yeast. As soon as the dough was mixed, I would ball and tray it up. Then I would crisscross the trays in the cooler for about 30 to 40 minutes. At that point the dough will be cold enough to stack the trays and seal them. This step will eliminate the dough from expanding on you. This is also a cold fermentation process where you don’t use that dough until the next day. You should have a good three-day shelf life on that dough. Make sure you rotate your dough every day, putting the new dough on the bottom.

We’re thinking of adding international pizza to our menu, incorporating other cultural foods baked on a pizza. Is this even possible?

It’s definitely possible, but you need to be careful about how you utilize your sauce and cheese. You’ll obviously use a different sauce and need to make sure that you don’t over-sauce your pizza; otherwise it will be too sloppy. I created an Amazing Bangkok pizza that is fantastic. It features a coconut curry sauce and other wonderful toppings. The cheese was a creative blend, but I only used about half of what I normally used on a cheese pizza. Go for it, get creative, and test them out on your customers first to get their feedback.

I have an employee who is really good most of the time, but seems to stretch or break our rules and policies. I hate to fire him. Is there any way to get him to conform?

I understand your frustration. Here are some options: a demotion with a decrease in pay until consistently better performance occurs, or a one- or two-week suspension without pay. Everyone has a certain threshold of learning. Sometimes sit-downs and write-ups with threats aren’t enough. If they don’t get it after that, it’s definitely time for them to go. ?

Jeffrey Freehof, owner of The Garlic Clove in Evans, Georgia, is Pizza Today’s resident expert. Send your questions to: Ask Chef Jeff, c/o Pizza Today, 908 South Eighth Street, Suite 200, Louisville, Kentucky, 40203.