Posts Tagged ‘pizza margherita’

Dead Dough Walking

 

This dough was made on December 13th, at 8 P.M. I put it on the farthest, coldest speed rack in my walk-in refrigerator and forgot about it. It was once a proud, strong dough made with a 60 percent pre-ferment from a naturally yeasted levain, high gluten flour with 14 percent protein, salt and diastatic malt. Now it sat like an old man flopped on a park bench. It’s best days were gone. The yeast had eaten the simple sugars over the past 12 days and the played-out gasses that initially pumped its chest out toward the sun, were gone.

 

 Yesterday, at 9 A.M. on December 26th, I pulled it out. It had been sitting in a state of cold fermentation for exactly 301 hours. I usually use this old dough as a nice “Kicker” to a new batch of ciabatta or batard dough, but as I pulled this dough off the tray, the condensation and extra virgin dribbled off and that beautiful, fruity smell of fermented wheat hit my nostrils screaming, “I’m still good damn it! BAKE ME!” So I did.

              

I gently formed a disc, then microplaned some Parmigiano Reggiano on the dough.

              

Then I dressed it with fresh basil and fresh mozzarella.

                

After the cheeses, I put some San Marzano tomato filets on the cheese for sweetness.

 

Then I got greedy and veered from the traditional path with some paper thin slices of La Quercia lardo that would melt all over this beauty.

Then I put it into a 550 degree oven and baked it for nine minutes. The leapording on the bottom was nice even though I baked it on a pizza screen.

The crumb was spectacular with nice, irregular open cells and a crispy crust with no gumline. Like any old man, it’s rise was slow and predictable unlike the unruly younger doughs, it nevertheless made up for this in complexity as every bit of the grain came out as a forceful wheaty-malty taste deep in the back of my throat and then left a caramel aftertouch in it’s wake.

But best of all, this old man who once sat floppily on a tray in my walk-in turned his twilight years into a treat for me and my staff.

Ain’t life grand?

Asparagus and Chitarra-cut, Mozzarella Linguine Pizza

The best paragraph I’ve ever read about spring goes like this:

 “When spring came, even the false spring, there were no problems except where to be happiest. The only thing that could spoil a day was people and if you could keep from making engagements, each day had no limits. People were always the limiters of happiness except for the very few that were as good as spring itself.”                                

Ernest Hemmingway from A Moveable Feast

With this pizza, I want to celebrate spring as innovatively as Ernie described spring without really describing spring.  I am not going to be a limiter of  happiness with this pie! It’s got the best of spring-aspargus and the best cured pork I’ve ever tasted called “Spallacia” which is from La Quercia in Iowa. It is a shoulder of pure-bred Berkshire pork that has been acorn-fed for months. I will probably make some mad by saying that this is better than any Prosciutto di Parma that I’ve used here in the States. I’ve also used the best Stanislaus Valorosso tomato filets from California, Parmigiano Reggiano and some excellent fresh mozzarella.

I wanted to show you a video of one component of the pizza that won Best Non-traditional Pizza in the Midwest and third in the Non-traditional finals at the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. Here is Patty Nally creating chitarra-cut mozzarella noodles during a very busy lunch rush. She first made the thin sheets from fresh curd. A chitarra is one of the oldest pasta forming devices and is an important tool of the Abruzzi region. It was originally made in 1800 in the town of Chieti. I will take this linguine and wrap my roasted asparagus later.

                                                                        

 Now, lets make this pie.

Take one, seven ounce dough ball from the Easy Dough Recipe on this blog and hold at room temperature to proof.

For the toppings:

                                                         (Following the picture from top left clockwise)

4 thin slices of fatty spallacia

2 tablespoons of grated Parmigiano Reggiano

5 asparagus spears

6 to 10 strands of mozzarella linguine

2 to 3 large stanislaus tomatoes pulled apart

5 ounces of fresh mozzarella

one bunch (5 leaves) fresh basil

sea salt and extra virgin olive oil to taste

Preheat oven to 500 or as close as you can get it.

   

Snap asparagus to fit a 12 inch pizza. Using a vegetable peeler, run it along the asparagus stalk to take the tough outer skin off. Coat asparagus with olive oil and either roast for seven minutes in a 450 degree oven. (I did this and overcooked them as you can see,) or sautee the asparagus for seven to 10 minutes. Cool and wrap with mozzarella linguine.

                                           

Grab a few pear tomatoes from the can and insert your finger into the center of the tomato. pull you finger down to seperate lengthwise letting the seeds and tomato juice flow out. Squeeze gently and set in colander to drain.

   

Make a pizza round, put on pizza screeen, then add the Parmesan, basil, tomato filets and mozzarella chunks. Bake in the oven until crisp and beyond golden (about 8 to 12 minutes.)

  

While still hot, add the spallacia and watch the magic of this fabuous meat depositing the delicious fatty gravy all over the cheese. This is truly an “Oh my…(insert god that you are comfortable with here) moment! Check the above…melting, melting, gone!

Add the asparagus and basil for garnish. Seriously, you don’t have to add olive oil or salt to this pie because the spallacia is enough heaven for one pizza!