Hard, semi hard, and semisoft cheeses should be bought in blocks, rounds, or wedges and grated just before using. Pregrated and pre shredded cheeses are time- savers, although some do not have much taste and are simply shaped oil masquerading as cheese.
Hint: To keep the crust crispy, scatter cheese over the dough before topping with other ingredients. Sprinkle fresh herbs over the pizza just before serving.
Use a box grater, shredding the cheese through the large holes or a hand grater with holes about the same size as the large ones on a box grater. Never shred cheese hours before using it; shredded cheese loses too much moisture if it sits around for more than 30 minutes. Of course, you'll rarely find the exact amount of cheese you need at the grocery store say, 3 ounces of Cheddar.
If you want to be precise, buy a large chunk and use the kitchen scales to determine when you've shredded the right amount. Or find out how much the block of cheese weighs up front (8 ounces, for example), then shred off some cheese, weighing the block occasionally until you get as much shaved off as you need, doing the math by subtraction. For example, if you need 3 ounces, there should be a 5 ounce piece of the 8 ounce block left when you're done. As a third alternative, use the shredding blade of a food pro cessor. You'll need to weigh the piece first and feed as much into the tube as you need. All that said, a pizza is not as exacting as some fancy French dessert. A little more cheese can hardly hurt. You can eyeball amounts and still come up with a great pie.
Hard cheeses like Parmigiano, Reggiano or aged Asiago can be grated into much thinner threads. To do so, use the small holes of a box grater or a small- holed Microplane, a culinary device specifically designed for hard cheeses. Since you need to grate all the cheese finely without leaving little balls and lumps that can result from that last bit slipping over the grates (not to mention peeling skin off your fingers), it helps to buy more cheese than you'll need, then grate only a portion of the block. If desired, use a kitchen scale so you make sure you've grated the right amount.
Hard cheeses can also be cut into paper - thin strips, using a vegetable peeler or a cheese plane, a specialty tool that passes over the block and shaves off a thin strip through a long slit in the plane. You can also use a mandoline, a specialty kitchen tool with a razor sharp blade; but the effort of working with (and washing) a mandoline and grip seems to rule out the point. Failing a cheese plane, you can use the shaving blade on the side of some box graters or the 1mm slicing blade in some food processors.
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