Posts Tagged ‘Bruno di Fabio’

WOW! Puglian Grano Arso-Black Ash Flour Pizzas

 

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Puglian Arso Nero crust above, (left) with San Marzano sauce, fresh spinach, guanciale, pignoli and Puglian burrata. (Right), the greyish coricione with perfect irregular cell structure and that unmistakable smoky, umami taste…bad ass!

My introduction to Arso Nero, or Black Ash flour all started when I met Chef Antonio Esposito and Alberto Busi of Pivetti flour at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas four years ago. They were cutting up dough balls for a demonstration of Neapolitan pizza and I had just finished preparing for a bread demo.

“Hey Guys, need some help?” I said overly friendly-like.

“Ahhh, no.” Antonio said smiling.

“Are you sure?”

“Yes, we are sure, but we can let you stand there and watch us for no extra charge.” Alberto said. They both laughed sadistically and I instantly liked them. I stood there for the next 20 minutes (more to annoy than anything), asking question after question about their flour, dough, hydration, mixing etc and they were some of the most knowledgeable and friendly Pizza guys around.

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This year I was lucky enough to meet up with them again in Las Vegas and in Columbus Ohio at the awesome RDP Foodservice show. They showed me their new product called “Skura” (by Pivetti). They were cooking pizzas and breads in my all time favorite pizza makers mobile oven from GoreMade Pizza, owned and operated by fellow Ohioan and outstanding pizza maniac Nick Gore. It didn’t take me long to fall in love with this dough. Nicks oven was just over 800 degrees because he had just set up but still this great dough stood out. It had the same oven spring as a typical “00” flour and charred nicely on the bottom leaving some killer leoparding, (spots) but the distinguishing characteristics were the juxtaposed qualities of  a nice light, airy cell structure and a deep, smoky, back-of-the-throat finish.

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Chef Antonio Espisito at work and with Pizza Legend Bruno di Fabio at the exciting RDP Foodservice show in Columbus.

Out of the ashes: The low down on Arso Nero:

In 18th century Puglia, Italy, wheat was first harvested then the fields were burnt to the soil for next years fertilizer. After the burning, the peasants would scour the fields and pick up the arso, or charred wheat berries left behind. They ground them up with semolina to make grano arso or “ash flour” then baked them in bread that produced a toasted flavor. Pivetti has successfully replicated this famed flour by slow-roasting the wheat for the same grey-black appeal.

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Check out the beautiful charred flecks of wheat floating all around the gluten net of my windowpane test, (above).

After repeated begging Chef Antonio sent me a bag of this glorious product and I went to work. I mixed it the way I would any of my high-heat, Naples-style pizzas; with just the dough, salt and water with a little pre-ferment from the Dolomite Mountains. I then aged it for 30 hours under refrigeration.  I just couldn’t wait to stoke my oven up to ultra-high heat and blast some pizza!

Here are some pies I made with Arso Nero flour.

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 First pizza was a San Marzano sauce with fresh spinach, thin slices of my homemade Red Wattle guanciale, pignoli, and some glorious Puglian buratta. Then I made a Teleggio and Portobello pizza with white truffle oil and balsamic.

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I used some aged Piave Vecchio I had and paired it with a ballistic three-year old Brugge Prestige, roasted fingerling and leek then topped with Prosciutto di Parma. For a really awesome worldly pizza, I topped the Arso Nero dough with aged provolone, curry roasted onion and cauliflower, raison, spinach and finished with fresh cilantro and Calabrian Chilies! Wow, not that’s the BOMBE!

Here’s the action packed video from my wrecked phone, (fell into some poolish a while back).

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I finally wanted to bake an ash-flour pizza with a truly Roman flavor profile of anchovy, tomato and garlic. I used salt-cured Sicilian as well as white anchovies as well as some sliced garlic and San Marzano sauce.

 

All I can say now is that these pizza really rock! Thank  you Pivetti and Antonio and Alberto! Now I am going to try to replicate this dough with charred speltberries. (More on that later).

 

 

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face!”

 

Mike Tyson really had that one right. It seems he might have owned a busy pizzeria or bakery because try as I might, I just can’t seem to stay on track as indicated by my weekly menu above. Last week, I dumped all the photo’s I have from my dough-encrusted iphone and realized I really have no plan and no clue. This is the reason why I am always experimenting with foods. Some are winners, some lose and some just weird. Here they are.

Much of the stuff that I bake hasn’t gotten documented on this blog and usually gets gobbled up fast by my fabulous customers like the wonderfully hydrated pizza bianca crumb above!

 

Then there is the Tuscan Crema Paradiso, a ground-up combination of pancetta, white wine vinegar, pepper, rosemary and garlic. Please go here to Pizza Today for the recipe. This little paste used in moderation is the bomb. That’s TWO B’s for Bacon Baby!

 

Now lets progress to the meter-long Turkish Pide, (PI-DAY). Here I have some fabulous parsnip and carrot pide’s with aged provolone and basil pesto and cherry tomatoes.

 

I believe this year marks number four into my obsession with highly hydrated doughs like the teglia, (pan) pizzas left. I love to proof them, par cook them, top them like this one on the right. I salt-cooked the local white raddichio then added finely chopped Calabrian Chilies, shaved turnip, spring onion and kohlrabi to it and tossed it with a smidge of white balsamico for an Italian-style kimchi that macerated for two days. At bake time, I topped the long pizza with mozzarella and some great aged Taleggio and some meatballs made from local King Family pork.

Speaking of white radicchio, my friend, Rick Vest of Vest berries grew this great “Pan di Zucchero”, or sugar loaf radicchio that I wrapped around some local Shagbark Milling polenta that I cooked with ricotta, parmesan and sun-dried tomatoes. I cooled the logs and wrapped the polenta in some quick-shocked sugar loaf then I wrapped the logs tight and set overnight.

The next day, I took the inner core of each sugarloaf radicchio and tossed them with a slurry of anchovy and freshly ground garlic with blended with copious amounts of extra virgin olive oil and lots of lemon juice, (channel Bagna Caulda). I passed them into my pizza oven at 474 degrees until the smell made me cry in anticipation of eating this glorious crunchy heaven. Then I made some schiacciata with 70 percent hydrated dough that had been cold-fermented for three days topped with the tender outer leaves of the sugarloaf with sauteed local apples from Neil Cherry’s orhard, and some freshly shredded Asiago cheese. When done, I placed the polenta roulade on each schiacciata.

 

Speaking of my first love…it has to be my “Flinstone Wheel”, I think of each loaf as a child of mine. Check out the bark on these…deep, dark and crunchy with a creamy crumb from high hydrated, 80-hour cold fermentation and blasted in a steamy 570 degrees…simply the best…well, except the “Leek a Choke” fougasse that I make with roasted leeks, artichoke and Parmesan cheese kneaded into a high protein flour and cold fermented also.

Speaking of meat that I have made this year; on the left are the chorizo meatballs that I just love. I use smoked paprika, cilantro, onion, egg, cooked cornicione, basil, garlic, pepper and local King Family Pork. In the middle is the crunchy orgasmic flavor bomb of a dried Prosciutto di Parma chip. Check out the veins of salt! This is my secret. On the right is a curry meatball that brings the flavors of India blasting onto a pizza! I usually use Gruyere cheese, curried cauliflower, spinach, onion, beans and paneer on a pizza with this meatball…(the secret here is a little bit of cinnamon.)

Don’t forget the simple but fragrant Emmental and Local Harmony Hollow ham schiacciata or the brioche schiacciata with nutella, almond pudding and banana.

Two succsessful fermentation projects I undertook were the “kimchied” apples and pears at left and the kimchied kale stems. I held both for four months in a Kimchi brine. The apple made a great sweet/salty spice to salads and the kale stems was fab in a salsa with japapeno’s and cilantro with a chiffonade of kholrabi and turnip.

Feeling bored, I made some Gnudi that I once had in Florence. This mixture of blanched spinach, ricotta, parmesan and egg is simply balled up and boiled just like gnocchi till it is nice, warm and the egg has set.

Then I took these delectable balls of power and wrapped them in high protein pizza dough with our sauce from Avalanche and some shredded provolone and mozzarella and baked at 475 degrees until browned.

Then I put them on a pizza with some local King Family sausage for a fabulous combination of lumpliciousness.

Speaking of pizzas, here are two that sit atop an airy, proofed crust. On the left is a large Campo di Fiore pizza and a variant on one I had in Rome. This one has Pecorino Sardo down first, then  mozzarella, Peruvian purple potato and zucchini that has been tossed in egg and more pecorino then baked at 500 degrees and finished with ricotta fresca. On the right we go back to the new world for a Detroit Red-Top pizza. When par-cooking the proofed raw dough, I took a handful of aged white cheddar around the edges of these awesome heavy-gauge pans to act like glue so the dough stays close to the pan. Then with the final bake, the toppings are hidden under the cheese which forms a jagged, razor bark of flavor around the red sauce that sits on top.

Of course, the fun never ends here. I’ve learned never to let a jar of methylcellulose sit around too long with my young staff before the name gets changed. And also to never underestimate the power of a Christopher Walk-in!

Because we get whole, local wings and raw ground pork, I decided to take the chorizo meatball filling and fill a chicken wing with it by lifting up the skin carefully, stuffing and baking the bird part until crisp. Yes, fairly high-maintenance but talk about juicy!

I cannot talk about obsession without the word “baguette” coming up. Enough said. Luckily I now have a great baker in Jacob Seidel that makes the best around.

During the spring of this year, the Japanese cherry trees blasted giant pink puffballs around Athens. I decided to sneak into a neighbors yard and grab buds like the devil and run like hell. With these, I made “Sakura no Shiozake” or pickled cherry blossoms. I salted these until they sat in their own juice, then drained them and added rice wine vinegar and sugar. I then let them sit another week and a half until draining them and putting them into my dehydrator for a very light dry. When I needed them, I re-hydrated in water and popped ‘em on pizza for a great “wow” garnish.

Spring also brings in buckets of asparagus for my ricotta-whole grain mustard-parm-pistachio-asparagus-cheddar stuffed fougasse. (Freight-train writing intrigues me.)

My fave this year was the massive amounts of ramps I was able to pair with morels, asparagus and pizza!

Left is ramp pizza al metro, middle is a ramp-almond pesto pizza al metro and pizza Siciliana on the right.

 

Asparagus is fabulous on a croissant tart like above but lets not forget those deeply colored roots like the beets in what I call a “Tromba Paradiso” with fresh chevre, mandarin orange, mozzarella, walnuts and spinach.

I don’t want to beet this ingredient to death but because getting people to buy any food item is just like bass fishing, the colorful beetroot is to customers what the Texas-rigged plastic worm is to bass. Just look at the schiacciata I made with direct-method, (very young dough) and some local chevre, ramp pesto, spinach and those purple beauties!

 

I cannot seem to keep away from the pickle jar. On the left is Shiozuke, or Japanese salt-cured pickles that I squeezed then put to sleep in a blanket of red and sweet miso with chopped garlic. On the right was a great project of kimchifying Belgium endive. Both were stellar!

I also had four huge bags of daikon from the Amish in Chesterhill to pickle. Turned out nice also.

Finally, with my new oven, some steam and up to 670 degrees to work with, I baked into the sunset with my large Pizza al metro and the blistered heaven of a crusted boule. From there I left the States last summer for Europe…

…where I had some great foraging adventures with my greatest friend, Bruno di Fabio and a Dolomite mountain man named Farro! But more on that later.