Samin Nosrat Reveals What Really Makes Great Pizza - Exclusive

It's probably safe to say that most people at least like, if not love, pizza. Everyone seems to have their preference for a certain pizza type, ranging from the thickness of the crust to just how chewy it is (via Slice Life). Maybe you like a lot of meat toppings or maybe you're more of a veggie person. There are tons of things that can impact what makes pizza over-the-top good to each individual, but some things that make great pizza remain constant.

Chef and author Samin Nosrat, who appears on the new culinary kids show Waffles + Mochi, says that it's no coincidence that pizza is so delicious. For Nosrat, the key to good cooking all comes down to the four elements of salt, fat, acid, and heat (via NPR). While explaining how to use salt more effectively, Nosrat revealed that salt, fat, acid, and heat are also largely behind the tastiness of pizza. It's just a matter of having it broken down so that you can see how these elements work together to make food so good. "So you maybe don't speak that language yet, but you actually know this already. So I think part of it is waking yourself up and starting to pay attention," Nosrat said. In an exclusive interview with Mashed, Nosrat discussed precisely what makes pizza as good as it is.

Pizza is all about salt, fat, acid, and heat

The first thing you need to do to understand why salt, fat, acid, and heat make pizza taste good is all about focusing on the food. "One way to do that is just to be a more thoughtful taster and start paying attention to the fact that almost any food that you love is going to be really balanced in salt and fat and acid, because we as humans have evolved to love those tastes," Nosrat explained. 

Nosrat uses pizza as her go-to example of how these elements work in harmony. "The example I always use is if you eat, you already know this [...] If you love pepperoni pizza and you think about it, it's because pepperoni and cheese are salty and fatty and actually a little bit acidic, and so is the tomato sauce, it's acidic," she said. Consider what pizza might be like without any one of these components. 

Your taste buds crave balance

If you were to taste a pizza without sauce, cheese, or toppings, your taste buds will want those elements to balance it out. If the sauce is too sweet, you might crave more acidic toppings. Nosrat gave the example of pizza only consisting of bread: "It would just be plain, it would just be probably a little bit salty and maybe a little bit oily, if it had some olive oil on it, but it really needs that acid."

Nosrat went on to add, "Then the heat, if the heat's not right, then the bread's not going to be browned or the bottom of the pizza will be soggy, it won't be crunchy. So those four elements are what make a great pizza." Heat might be an overlooked but incredibly important part of making the perfect pizza. While many recipes call for a pizza to be baked at 450 F, brick pizza ovens usually get even hotter (via The Kitchn). Nosrat explained, while cooking, "it doesn't matter so much the source of heat as it does the level of heat."

So the next time you make pizza at home, taste it and think about what it might be missing. If you feel like it's lacking, you might just need more of one of these elements.

You can catch chef Samin Nosrat, along with former First Lady Michelle Obama, on this season of Waffles + Mochi, streaming now on Netflix. Also be sure to tune into the Waffles + Mochi YouTube specialWhat's Cooking Tonight, on March 27; a late-night inspired event where you'll see chef Nosrat, along with other celebrities like Jennifer Garner, Anya Taylor-Joy, Jack Black, and — of course — the former first lady herself. It's sure to be fun for the whole family!