Posts Tagged ‘guanciale’

Pork Heart Pizza Pie

One of the most underused items in the porcine library of protein is the pork heart. Rich in iron, vitamin c and that irresistible mild offal flavor. This is one of those proteins that you have two choices while cooking; really fast or really slow. I chose the slow method and knocked this pie into the bleachers at Flavor Field!

My local pork heart was obtained by my friend Rich Blazer of Harmony Hollow Farms here in Athens.


I trimmed these hearts and tossed them with fresh garlic cloves and extra virgin olive oil. Then I packed them in foil and threw them into my bread oven that was cooling down from Jacob Seidels baguette baking regime here at Avalanche. The temperature was 275 and cooled on down to 250  for four hours. After taking the foil out, I let it rest for another hour on the counter. The result was a beautiful, tender heart with the infused nuance of garlic.


I decided that this heart would benefit from the smokey, umami laden goat feta from my friends at Integration Acres. I took chunks of this almost a month ago and coated them in High Desert bee pollen then wrapped them in Hokkaido kombu that was re-hydrated in dashi.


The result is fee-nom! The salt from the kombu and dashi had crystallized and the bee pollen lent a sharp medium sweetness to the salty feta whose texture broke down with a smokey mouth feel as I bit down. This was gonna be perfect on a pigs heart pie!


So, I formed a dough from my Easy Dough Recipe and pre-heated an oven to 485 degrees. I laid the feta and some sharp (12 month old) Belgium Bruge Prestige cheese (above, left),  that I had been aging for six months extra for an ultimate taste of tang.


 I then took some fatty Red Waddle pig cheeks from Neil Perin at Arcadian Acres and cured them with salt and tad bit of maple sugar for four days then rubbed it with my secret spices smoked them over sassafras. This was sliced thin along with a few slices of La Quercia lardo.


I chopped some of the last great heirloom tomatoes from my friend at Vest Berries that he picked green and ripened in house. tomatoes with cilantro, one teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of sea salt the drizzled this sauce on top of the heart, cheeses, and guanciale, (That’s right Chumly, some pizza sauces are better served on top!) I did use some slivers of the tomato on top also.


It was time for baking so I placed a few Castelvetrano olive halves on the pie to impress the meaty heart with some Sicilian saltiness. Then I tossed the pizza in the oven. (not literally.)


When hot, I rubbed the thinly sliced lardo all across the piping crust for a great slick pork crunch on the cornicione!

Brining and Curing Anchovies for Pizza Metro il “Gilda”

I’ve been to Italy 6 times in my life and have never experienced the kind of friendship, comfort and down-home hospitality as in Holiday House Gilda in Positano. Giuseppe, Gilda, Daniella and Rosa are amazing in the way they welcome you and see to your every need as you relax at this cliffside slice of paradise.

I have this small thought that they must be terribly annoyed by us, the spastic small business owner pizza freaks, constantly talking about the pizza that is gonna win the World Pizza Championships and take the world by storm in Salsomaggiore, Italy.

Today, I’ll finish preping for a marinated anchovy pizza with asparagus, mozzarella, Parmesan and fresh cherry tomatoes finished with chopped roasted almonds. I tell Giuseppe and Gilda my goal of destroying all competitors at the pizza competition and after several minutes of giggling, they said they are happy to help.

Eating my way though Positano with fellow American restaurant owners Mike, Bruno and Tom.

Yesterday, I blasted the whole mountainside with the fatty-sweet smell of sauteed guanciale (pork jowl) that I sweated in the kitchen in my room. (You have to cook this stuff or your pizza will be way too greasy.) I heard Gilda talking and instantly thought she was mad at the amount of pork smell this process produced. As she entered my room, and I turned into the 5 year-old I really am inside, she smiled, and asked for a bite. “Beautiful” she said, and walked out. What a class act!

My three great friends who helped me time and time again; Bruno, Rosa and Mike .

Bruno went to Naples and got owners of famous pizza places to let him throw pizzas. Today he went to Trianon, one of the oldest and respected pizzerias in the world. (pictures to follow). I stayed with Giuseppe today foraging for fresh veggies, then descended the steps to the secluded beach for a cold swim.

Last night, Bruno, our travelling companions Mike and Tom, and I made 2 bigas. A biga is a pre-fermented dough we add to another batch of dough to make the final product more digestable, taste better and perform better in any pizza compeitition. Bruno’s looks much better.

Right now, check out how Giuseppe and Gilda showed me the right way to brine and cure fresh anchovy. These are the freshest anchovies I’ve ever encountered and are a totally different taste than the flattened, salted fish-leather we are all used to in the States.

Now, here’s the goon totally screwing it up. (What a know-it-all.)

After the overnight cure of salt, vinegar and lemon juice, Giuseppe rinses the fish twice and pats them dry. He adds them to a marinade of salt, extra virgin olive oil (crushed from the trees outside our window), small thin slices of garlic, and peperoncini (hanging on the wall after being grown from the garden outside).

After a double-flushing of cold water, Giuseppe drains the anchovies for a few minutes before patting dry.

Now is time for Giuseppe’s final flourish of olive oil, salt, garlic and pepper flakes.

Tomorrow we leave for the 8-hour trip to Salsomaggiore. After covering Rome for a day and staying down south here in Positano, it will be nice to “Get to it”. Earlier today, we went to a grocery store in Sorrento. As we walked in, Bruno pointed at me and exclaimed very loudly, John, the compeition starts NOW!” Then he ran to the back of the store. You could have heard a pin drop as I stood there, trying to  find the things I needed through the stares of the locals. Bruno was right. This was gonna be a tough competition.

See you in Salso.