Posts Tagged ‘fresh mozzarella pizza recipe’

Liquid Pizza

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Of all the lame-brained ideas I’ve obsessed over, this is the top of the top. That said, I just had to go with the idea of taking the raw ingredients of a beautiful pizza and building the flavors up from scratch to actually taste like a pizza but only in its purest, liquid form. (Above is my two-week labor of love which, my wonderful wife who is my harshest critic said, “…tasted exactly like a fabulous…pizza.”)

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Many chefs are breaking certain iconic dishes down only to built them back up using cooking methods, chemicals and faux ingredients to re-create said dish in another, wacky way. This is especially true for challenges in cooking shows to test the flexibility of a chef. It is great to think of any dish in a different way by throwing out the visual, historical and textural preconceptions by interpreting a culinary item on taste alone. This fun and challenging concept for a pizza was done without the use of gels, chemicals or fancy kitchen machines. I also made a promise that for the sake of your sanity and what’s left of mine, I promise you that I will, at no time use the term; DECONSTRUCTED.

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The pizza I targeted is a Neapolitan style pizza topped with Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano Reggiano. I cooked the pizza above at 800 degrees and it demonstrated that perfect Neapolitan taste. (Dontcha just love how that Prosciutto melts.) I now had to replicate the wheaty char of grain, the sweetness of tomato like the San Marzano’s above, followed by the ultra-umami found in Parmigiano Reggiano, the salty-fat-fruit of Prosciutto di Parma, the vegetal kick of fresh basil and the milky mozzarella.

First, the Tomato:

Every year at the height of tomato summer, I get the largest, juiciest locally grown, heirloom tomatoes and freeze them. Then, in the depths of winter, I take them out and just put them in a bowl to defrost. Letting gravity and warmth transform these beauties is amazing and quite simply the best way to get tomato water from these beasts. I then create a a winter gazpacho with fresh herbs, diced vegetals and crabmeat.

For this project the tomato water came from three distinct heirlooms; Sweet Azoycha Russian yellows , Green Zebras and Cherokee Purples, all organic and locally grown by Green Edge Gardens in Amesville, Ohio.

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When each tomato started leaching the almost colorless water, I drained each tomato group a separate bowl and let gravity continue to push the liquid out more.

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Then I was ready for just a little salt and a few days flavor-meld in the fridge.

For the Parmesan:

This may seem to some cooks as particularly wasteful but I gotta tell you, its worth it!  You’ve not lived until you do a shot of Parmigiano Reggiano water! The simple act of separating the fat and solids by grating the parmesan and throwing it in boiling water, turning off the heat and letting time and temperature pulls the strong flavor out of the solids and opens a whole new culinary dimension for this king of cheeses. You can take this liquid and make ice cream, gels, “Cheetos-like” crackers, dashi or even make parmesan caviar with the help of sodium alginate and calcium chloride.

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I placed about eight ounces of grated parmesan, including the rind, into four cups of just-boiling water then turned the heat off to let it cool while stirring constantly.

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When the mixture cooled enough, I placed it in the fridge for three days to meld the flavors and separate even more. After a final skim, it is ready.


For the Crust:

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Finding a wheat taste in liquid form was my toughest challenge so I opted to start with the grain in a harvested berry form. The local spelt berries are grown twenty-two miles away in Chesterhill, Ohio were a perfect start. The Amish grow copious amounts of this deep-tasting grain and they harvest it with horses. My plan was to first toast the hard outer shell it under high heat then braise it to cook the grains, or berries. This released the earthy, chocolate-tea-toastiness so prevalent in this spelt. After toasting, I covered them with water and boiled them over medium high heat for three hours until the endosperm popped through the hard husk of each kernel.

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The vision I had in my head compared to what was happening in reality was very different while rendering the spelt into liquid,The plump endosperm that popped through the bran and charred outer shell of each kernel was magnificent and bloated exposing the white glutinous heart of each kernel. I had to concede that this gluten was an integral part of the fluid I was making and no washing or straining would get rid of the gravy-like liquid. Even though this was not what I had envisioned but the taste was magnificent and I knew I had nailed it. (I even made a killer salad out of the berries.)

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So I added water to it and blended it again then reduced the liquid for thirty minutes, straining again with a finer and finer sieve. After cooling, the presence of the gluten and bran made a thicker liquid but still had the taste of a hearty, toasted wheat. I was finally there.


For the Basil oil:

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I took a handful of basil then cut and mashed it, adding extra virgin olive oil. I then held it to macerate for five hours then strained it. I could have made it more bright green by shocking the chlorophyll in the basil with heat and ice water but I had to get the kids from school.


And for the Prosciutto di Parma:

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I usually make some great cracklings out of the shank product that I get from each prosciutto leg but I also make a killer reduction of this, the king of hams. I first took the shank and cubed it then sautéed it on medium high heat with a tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to brown each chunk. Then I added a mirepoix, (celery, onion, carrot).

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When all the flavors melded at medium high heat, I turned the heat down and added one cup of chicken stock and two cups water to cover the mix. I left it to gently simmer and breakdown for 20 minutes before extracting all the solids. This left me with a liquid which I reduced on high heat for 10 to 15 minutes until it was thick and tasted like the purest essence of Prosciutto di Parma!

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My first few attempts at placing this flock of liquids on a plate, in a soup bowl and even in a shot glass failed miserably until I found the right layering. I am no freakin’ scientist but I soon found that each liquid had certain weight and density that pushed downward from gravity.

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So after many trials, (massive fail on left), I found that the placing spelt on bottom followed by Prosciutto di Parma gravy, then the Parmesan water followed very gently by the tomato water and topped with basil oil was the way to go. Because of the strong flavors in the Parmesan and prosciutto liquids, I added more of the nuanced tomato water for a better balance.

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Finally, I turned the mozzarella into the most luscious liquid of all. Just by melting it in a pan, it liquefied and completed this wonderful shot of pizza with a blanket of goo. (As I proudly introduced this liquid to my employees, they asked where the vodka was- maybe next time!)

Miso Madness (Part 2 of the Yakitori Pizza Chronicles)

The best thing about yakitori is that it encompases all the tastes and textures I remember from Japan. First there’s that caramel-like tang of soy and sugar, a sweet and salty assault. Then comes the sour char of those sugars as they are put to the fire, released with a nominal crunch when you bite into the flesh. When you chew, the meatiness of the chicken and the cabbage-textured leek (or scallion) reveal yakitori’s true depth of tare, or concentrated sauce.

Let me get started on what challenges I face, making a pizza version of yakitori.

Question: What the heck type of cheese should I use, or should I use any at all?  It’s either got to compliment the taste of the chicken without overpowering the subtlties of the reduced sauce, or act as a foil without ruining the damn pie.

Goonish answer: The best cheeses I’ve found to compliment umami qualities are Parmesan, Gruyere, and Roquefort. I’ll use Parmesan and some creamy chevre atop  fresh mozzarella.

Question: What type of sauce should I use? A reduction of the tare? Tomato? Seaweed? Anchovy?

Goonish Answer: I made a broccoli-stem pickle the other day with red miso. I love the salty-sweetness of this stuff so I will schmear (deli term)  a little on the dough after mixing it with a quick splash of water.

So whatta we waiting for? Here’s the Yakitori Chicken Pizza.

1 seven-ounce dough ball from the Easy Dough Recipe

For the Tare:

Bones from one whole chicken, or 4 or 5 chicken backs, or even wing bones from a previously cut chicken (enough to fill a large saute pan)

3/4 cup sake or dry white wine (not Vermouth)

1 cup Japanese soy sauce (not Kikkoman)

1/2 cup Mirin (Japanese cooking wine) or sweet wine

2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 cup chicken stock

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the bones in a large heatproof saute pan and put in the preheated oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, turning once. You want to roast the bones to release the deeply browned flavor. A liquid should start appearing at the bottom after 30 minutes and will turn more brown with time. Pull this out before it gets black.

When the bones have browned properly, put the pan on high heat and add the sake. Turn the heat to medium high and scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release what Anthony Bourdain calls the “Nasty Bits.”

After 7 minutes, and once the bits from the bottom of the pan are incorporated, add the soy, mirin, sugar. Simmer on medium-low for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, the stock thicken slightly. Turn the bones and scrape the pan again, ensuring all the crusty flakes are free. This is when the flavors will come together into what chefs call a fond. Add the chicken stock and simmer for another 30 minutes.

Strain the stock and throw the bones out. This is your tare. You may reduce a little more or add more chicken stock if it is too thick. It may not seem too thick but as it cools, it will thicken. Some fat may rise to the top depending on how much skin you initially put in the pan. (I like to keep some fat in the tare- it’s killer flavor.)

For the yakitori chicken:

2 skin-on, bone-in, chicken thighs (Throw another one in for yourself; otherwise you’ll end up eating them all.)

4 spring onions

Grab the thigh bone from the middle of the thigh. Using a very sharp boning knive, cut down and scrape the meat from the bone. When you get down to the joint, use a series of cuts around the bone and cartlage to free all the meat. Take your time.

You will end up with two boneless, skin-on thighs, ready for the grill.

Turn your grill on high. When the tempreature is at 450 to 500 degrees, place the chicken thighs on the grate skin side down. (This will oil up the grill, so when turned, the meat doesn’t stick). After 4 minutes, turn the chicken over and cook, flesh side down, for 4 more minutes. If the fat from the chicken flares up, move the chicken. When the outside of the chicken looks cooked overall, dip it into the tare and return to the grill. Continue to dip for 3 or 4 times. (NOTE: Yeah, I know this is not how the yakitori masters do it, but we are making pizza, for chicken’s sake.)

After 12 to 16 minutes, the thighs should be cooked through and the sugars in the tare should have carmelized on the skin, causing the heat to blacken it in some places. This is what you want. Keep the grill on and throw the onions on, turning once after 2 minutes. Apply the tare with a brush. Wait 2 more minutes and turn and apply the tare again. Cook of  an additional minute. Remove. Cool slightly, then cut into strips.

For the Pizza Assembly:

1 tablespoon red miso, stirred in a small bowl with 2 tablespoons water

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan

1 large ball fresh mozzarella

scallions cut into quarter inch segments

3 tablespoons creamy goat chevre

For garnish: cilantro leaves, enoki mushrooms, julienned carrot

Preheat pizza stone in your oven to 475 degrees.

Form the round of dough and place on a pizza peel with semolina or cornmeal. Brush the red miso on the dough and place the Parmesan on top. Arrange the fresh mozzarella on the Parmesan, then the chicken slices, followed by the onion and goat cheese.

Finish the pizza with another two tablespoons of tare, then slide pizza onto your preheated pizza stone. Or use parchment paper on an upturned heavy cookie sheet.  This is my Emile Henry pizza stone and no matter how hard I cut on it or drop it, heat it, it stays hard and clean and unchipped.

Cook this pie for 14 to 16 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the bottom is dark golden brown.

Here’s to you, yakitori masters of the world!  By the way, if you are ever in Athens, Ohio, stop by for our yakitori pizza at Avalanche Pizza.