Posts Tagged ‘bellweather farms’

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!)

The Pizza Olympics in Italy, 2011

                         

My “Schiacciata alla Lombardo,” highlighting the cheeses and food of the Lombary region placed 4th in the U.S.A. I slathered wonderful Bellweather Farms Crescenza on the whole thing, then topped in thirds (1) Gorgonzola Dolce, Gorgonzola Piccante, sliced pear, Bresaola (air dried beef) and arugula. (2) Teleggio, wild mushrooms and truffle oil. (3) Vallentina Casera cheese with pancetta fresca (fresh pork side, marinated with salt, herbs and balsamic) and braised raddichio. My dough consisted of a wild yeast 24 hour levain with 50 percent local spelt flour and a 16 hour cold-retarded biga, then mixed with a 50/50 mix of 14 percent protein flour and caputo tipo “00″ flour to a 70 percent hydration.

World Pizza Champions

Not long ago, I had the pleasure of being invited to the pizza olympics, held in Salsomaggiore Italy. My team, The World Pizza Champions ruled the day with fantastic culinary scores as well as the silver and bronze medals in pizza acrobatics.

                            

This fabulous pizza made by Tony Gemignani won “Best Pizza in the U.S.A.”  The”cornicione” (Korn-e-Chon-A) or end crust has a terrific open crumb and airy cells obtained by pre-ferments, the perfect amount of hydration, patience and a little pizza love. Tony named this “Pizza Fortura.”  It consisted of  100% organic 12-grain  flour from Central Milling with a 93 percent hydration, Anchor Steam starter, triple malted, La Quercia prosciutto, blackberry honey, Sierra Nevada mozzarella and white cheddar with arugula. 

The fabulous Tony Gemignani, owner of Tony’s Napolitana, Tony’s Coal Fired Pizza and Slice House, Pizza Rock in Sacramento and Pysano’s Pizza in Castro Valley  won “Best Pizza in the U.S.A.” for his score in the Pizza Classico category (damn- I came in second.) Tony also rocked the “Pizza Teglia” category, coming in 4th in the World followed by Bruno di Fabio who finished 8th in the World. Bruno has just opened “Re Napoli” to rave reviews in Greenwich CT.  and is opening a spectacular pizzeria called “900″ in the East Village, Manhattan. (These guys are on FIRE!)

Here are the sights of the competition.

                       

Eric Corbin, Pat Miller and Jay Shuurman exploded with great tricks in the Freestyle Acrobatics and Largest Dough Stretch.

                         

    Some great pizzas were made in the Teglia, or pan pizza category where alot of Italians let them rest for over 10 minutes. 

                          

Tony and Bruno saying, “If we gave you 1000 Euro, would you make sure the judges give that goon from Ohio a lower score?”

                         

                     Lotsa French Chefs showed up this year. Here a chef creates a red Mullet pizza with spring vegetables.

                    

Pat Miller, Owner of A Slice of New York in Columbus Ohio was spectacular in all events but really shined in largest dough stretch.

                          

Contestants from all over the world competed in “The Fastest,” or pulling 5 small doughs out onto 12 inch screens in record time.

                           

                               The Japanese team scored third place in the team acrobatics. Here they are with Miss Italy.

                             

Three pizza legends; Tony Gemignani, Antonio Manzi (He won first place, freestyle acrobatics) and Bruno di Fabio.

                         

                                                                               Did I mention the French were there?

                                     

                                                                                  Eric Corbin helping a nice old geezer cross the street.

                        

                                                                                          Presentation to the judges is everything.

                                

                                            The non-gluten category was held in a seperate area and featured some great pizzas also.

                         

                                                                                                     The World Pizza Champions.

                           

              Nancy Puglisi, (center) herself a master at the pizza business, acted as our interpreter, coach and friend.

                                            

This pizza place forth in the world in “Pizza in Teglia” or pan pizza and was made by (who else) Tony Gemignani. It is called the “Pancetta Porcini” using a 72 hour maturation with a poolish, porcini marsala cream sauce, wild mushrooms, smoked pancetta, smoked scarmoza, truffle oil, sea salt, roasted red peppers, fresh thyme, and mache.

 

                              

Jay Shuurman, Eric Corbin and Alberto Pavolo shared the stage in victory for thier freestyle actobatic dough tossing.

                          

                                                                 Here is Tony Gemignani picking up his trophy for Best Pizza in the U.S.A.     

                           

This was an exciting and exhausting trip, these guys are some of the best and most dedicated pizza people on the planet and it was an honor to accompany them. Next year, even though they are my friends, I will crush them with a stellar pizza and win Best Pizza in the World because, like Bruno says “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometime.”

Semper Pie!

the goon

( I’ve had some problems attaching videos to posts but hope that soon I can show them to you.)