Posts Tagged ‘arugula pizza’

Local Pancetta, Rouqefort and Chardo-Paw Pizza

When was the last time you ate an entree, sandwich, pizza, soup, salad or bread that can be traced to the people and places you know? Last week?  The week before that? Never perhaps? Our modern world, with all our mega-mart grocers, has made it very hard to complete the cycle of local consumption. We’ve thrown out familiarity and support for our local farmers in our great quest for easy pickins’ with waxy tomatoes picked by slave labor packaged in deceptive red netting and “All Natural” pork from pigs that haven’t stepped more than three paces their whole lives. Most folks don’t really see a problem with this “from afar” food chain of giant trucks rolling into town all day and night; after all, if you haven’t tasted a real, unsprayed grape or local heirloom pork your whole life, you just wouldn’t know.

Because I sell breads at the Athens Farmers Market, I constantly have “Oh my god!” moments when I bite into some of the best produce and meats in this country. Years ago, I bit into an apple grown by Shews Orchard and blurted, “That’s like no other apple I’ve ever tasted!” This was because I was used to buying produce from my the large grocery store. I just didn’t know. Now I do and constantly try to integrate local, organic ingredients in my pizzas on this blog.


This pizza rocks on so many of those levels because all of the toppings are produced, grown or foraged by people I know. The motivation for curing the pancetta fresca (pork belly, a.k.a. fresh side) on this pizza came from the fabulous new book “Salumi” by a writer and chef I greatly admire: Michael Ruhlman (left) along with chef Brian Polcyn.


The cheese is a wonderful Rouqefort made at Integration Acres by Michelle Gorman and Chris Chmiel (check out last blog entry.)


The pancetta fresca (fresh pork belly, or “fresh side” they call it here) is from Rich Blazer and Harmony Hollow Farms.


The chardonnay grapes were given to me from Neal Dix of Shade Winery in Shade, Ohio and the arugula was growing in a pot in my backyard near a small and very gnarly cherry pepper.


The paw paws were…a pain in the keester! Check out my almost-unsuccessful paw-paw forage where I was only able to get three.

This is going to be a great pie! The local goat rouqefort is not as salty as the stuff from France so its a perfect match with the salty pancetta. The sweet paw-paw-chardonnay jam is a fantastic counterpoint to the piquant and savory cheese and pancetta. The nuanced spice from the pepper is a great suprise and the arugula is a refreshing and crunchy end to every bite!

Using the Easy Dough Recipe on this blog, make yourself a seven ounce dough ball and reserve in the refrigerator for the next day.

For the pancetta quick cure: Variation of recipe from “Salumi” (Ruhlman, Polcyn)

One large baton (8-12 ounces) of pork belly. This is cut across the belly and is usually sold at Farmers Markets in inch-wide strips for making lardon.

1/4 cup sea salt

20 turns of a pepper mill


Place the pancetta baton in a bag and toss with the salt and pepper. Place in the refrigerator for 20 to 24 hours until stiff.


After the salt has absorbed and the baton is stiff, rinse well with cold water and dry with paper towels. Slice in half (to fit the pan) and sear on high for 10 to 12 minutes until the outer edges brown nicely. Reserve for the pizza topping.

For the paw-paw-chardonnay jam: (be ready to get your hands messy with this!)


Break the paw-paws apart with your hand and let the loose pulp fall into the bowl. The amount of seeds will vary with various paw-paws so take each seed between your thumb and other fingers and roll hard to get the pulp off of the seed. Discard the seeds. Draw you finger against the inner wall of the skin to peel away what pulp you can.


Place 1/2 teaspoon of lemon juice (or quarter of a lemon) into the pulp and mix. Take the chardonnay grapes and squish (is that a word?) with your hand. If you are a traditionalist, you can do this with your stinky feet. Place the seeds and skins aside.


Strain the juice and pour into a hot pan. Reduce by half.


Cool the grape juice in the fridge then add to the paw-paw pulp. Refrigerate until topping.

For the Pizza:

1 pancetta baton

bowl of paw-paw, chardonnay grape jam

half of a hot cherry pepper

5 to 8 ounces of roquefort cheese

Handful of arugula


 Preheat the oven to 475 degrees and place a pizza stone or upturned and heavy cookie sheet on the middle deck. Chop up the hot pepper and use as much as you can handle. Slice the pancetta on the bias.


Form the pizza dough ball into a disc, place on a pizza screen and top with the cheese, pancetta and diced pepper.


Place in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes until nice, brown and crispy.


 And enjoy like crazy.

Roman Pizza Bianca

Well, it’s that time of the year again. It’s Halloween season and my business is in the throws pizza madness. The late season crops are booming and I am gearing up my strategy to win the International Pizza Expo’s Pizza Challenge in Las Vegas in March. I’ve dusted off my pizza thinking cap and thought that I just might make a pizza bianca. (or not…think I’m stupid? I’ll not give away my soon to be winning pizza to anyone!) Either way, everytime I make these pizzas, it takes me back to Rome.

The thing I miss most about Rome besides drinking espresso and puffing on a Cuban cigar in the sunshine at an outdoor cafe on Via Margutta, is sampling all the different types of Pizza Bianca. Just last year my good friend Bruno di Fabio and I found a little panificio near the Vatican which had the best zucchini, egg and parmesan pizza bianca as well as numerous other pizza bianca that just blew me away.

Last week I found the time to kick out some P.B’s. I made these with a pre-ferment made with a 70/30 mix of high protein flour and local spelt flour. To this I added a biga, salt, yeast and organic malt syrup. I then mixed it with a hydration of 65 percent-(not “ciabatta sticky” but just this side of annoyingly sticky,) then retarded for four days under refrigeration. This gorgeous baby, (above) has all my favorites and I bake it here at Avalanche often. I started with Bellwether Farms Carmody cheese, late season heirloom tomato, panchetta, onion, Calabrian chili’s and arugula.

Normally, the Italians from Rome would mix a batch and let it proof for up to five or six hours depending upon the time of the year. Then they cut and formed into a football shaped loaf about two feet long and left to proof again for upwards of 20 minutes for the gluten to relax. The it is formed into a five to six foot loaf using the piano method of lightly jabbing fingertips into the soft dough after being brushed with olive oil. I proof my dough in specially made pans, (above.)

My formula for the dough is different (of course) and I will give you a peek at that later this week as well as the recipes for these pizzas.

Most Romans find solace in eating the pizza bianca plain and hot out of the oven, (above) or stuffed with a miriad of items like a pita… (oops, I just made a few thousand Roman enemies.) I like a protein like prosciutto and arugula with pear and balsamic but shredded zucchini, mint, arugula and tomato is a big hit here in Athens, Ohio.

 Here is my stuffed pizza bianca with Genoa salami, roasted zucchini, mint, tomato, arugula, spinach and some olive oil and salt.

I made four pizzas using the goons pizza bianca dough.

A Sicilian Sfincione with the incomprable Stanislaus Alta Cucina tomatoes, onions, anchovies, oregano, pecorino and bread crumbs. This fit perfectly atop the puffy rise of the bianca dough.


Then I baked an organic zucchini pizza bianca with mint, pecan, local goat cheese from Integration Acres, parmesan and those same stellar Stanislaus tomatoes. (In fact my modis opperandi is to open the can, then select the biggest, juciest tomato and gobble it down over the sink before any of my staff catches me in my secret guilty pleasure.)

Next was a spinach, gorgonzola, pear and walnut pizza bianca which was particularly “Nad-Pumping” (a great gutteral term a chef once was fond of saying. Should I stop now? Heck no.

Last was a fabulous P.B. with sea salt and rosemary. 

“Holy crumb Batman! any way you slice it, Pizza Bianca is a hit!” I’ll try to find time to throw some of these recipes your way this next week, (as soon as I get done with this dang pizza making business of mine!)