Posts Tagged ‘prosciutto di parma 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!)

Ramp Salsa Pizza with Spring Watercress and Applesauce!


I love ramps sometimes more than people. Encounters with both can be pungent, stinging and fleetingly aggressive but unfortunately, its against the law to put humans on a pizza.

“What’s a ramp?” The well dressed man asked as he pointed at the long pizza al metro I was selling at the Athens Farmers Market last Saturday.

 This monster had 40 diagnally placed ramps atop crumbled Parmigiano Reggiano and sharp Sicilian Caciocavallo. I had also placed some fat Amish asparagus at intervals along the pizza also topped with four large islands of ramp salsa, Stanislaus Valorosso tomatoes and local Shagbark popcorn coated with Gruyere cheese. It was huge,gorgeous, greeny green.

“It’s a wild leek.” I explained loudly to counter the irritatingly tappity, tap, tap of the cold rain against the roof of my tent.

“What’s a leek.”

“A large version of a green onion.”

“So lemme get this straight, you gotta pile of large, wild onions on a pizza?”

“Yep.” I shivered as the 47 degree breeze made my damp clothes harden.

“Hmmm, I don’t know if I should take a chance on a slice of tha…whooaa now, is that popcorn?”

“Yea, it adds a wonderful textural counterpoint and its blanketed in Gruyere cheese…”

“Kinda freakish if you asked me. What’s that green stuff under the counterpoint popcorn?”

“Ramp salsa.”

“Pretty redundant, don’t you think?” He said as he popped another free bread sample in his pie hole.

“Redundancy is a state of mind sir.” I explained horribly. 

“Not when you’re dealing with stinky onions, gotta sample of that pizza?”

“No, I’m sor…” I said as the side of his mouth went up and he shook his head from side to side just before he turned to leave.

“Onion pizzas usually suck.” He mumbled as he walked away.

I looked at the pizza and smiled. It was my only friend around here.

Unlike that conversation, ramps are more predictable and much less annoying.  They sneak in quickly in the cold of spring, wave thier floppy flags under the shade of the forest and spread thier wonderous oniony stench into the wind, then they are gone.

Here’s a great ramp pizza and thanks to Shews orchard, I have some great wild watercress that grows near thier spring and some of thier fab applesauce. I will pair these ingredients with just picked asparagus, gruyere, lemon and some Prosciutto di Parma cooked till nice and crispy. This pizza, while not the one described above was devoured by me and my Jake…hence the smiles.

For the Pizza:

One seven ounce dough ball from the easy dough recipe on this blog.

Ramp salsa recipe (below)

Prosciutto di Parma crisps recipe (below)

3 ounces of Gruyere cheese

2 tablespoons of apple sauce

One small bunch of fresh watercress

 For the Ramp Salsa Preparation:

9 whole ramps, washed

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Juice from half a lemon

2 teaspoons salt or more to taste 

One stalk of spring garlic (please do not use bulb garlic if you cannot find, just use one tablespoon less oil.)

5 or 6 fresh asparagus spears

1.5 tablespoons honey


Cut the roots off of the ramps. Put all ramps and oil  in a blender or bucket with an immersion blender and blend on high until liquidy. Add the juice from the lemon half and salt.


Cut the root off of the green garlic then in long matchsticks. Cut the length of each matchstick once then twice. Turn the long ribbons and cut crossways producing a small dice. Add garlic to the ramp pesto liquid.


  Cut asparagus three quarters up the stalk from bottom. Cut down the stalk without the bud in half then turn the cut stalk and cut across to produce a small dice. Add chopped asparagus and 1.5 tablespoons of honey. Taste and add extra salt or honey to taste. This should be a fairly chunky salsa so you can always add more asparagus if needed.

For the Prosciutto di Parma Crisps Preparation:

1.5 to 2 ounces Prociutto di Parma

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 quarter cup white wine or Appalacian deglazer- (water)

reserved asparagus tips


Cut the prosciutto in strips and in a bowl, add extra virgin olive oil (add more if you have very lean prosciutto.) Place in a pan under medium heat and saute’ for 5 to 10 minutes. Turn heat down and toss frequently because the meat will stiffen and crisp up very fast. (Needless to say, do not walk away from this process.)


When the prociutto is crisp, pull from the pan on a paper towel. Keeping the medium-high heat on, add one quarter cup of white wine or water to deglaze the pan. As the liquid bubbles, scrape the pan unhinging all the gnarly bits. Add the asparagus tips to cook in this wonderful flavor bath for only three minutes. Cut each spear legnthwise and reserve with the prosciutto. Keep the liquid reducing until you have only 2-3 tablespoons. This will be brushed on the pizza crust as a

For the Pizza:

Pre-heat oven to 495. Using the easy dough recipe in this blog, take one dough ball and bang out into a round disc. Place on a pizza screen or some parchment.


Brush the reduced Prosciutto di Parma sauce directly onto the dough and then the gruyere. Add the asparagus spears in a sunburst pattern then the ramp salsa. Place in oven for 12 minutes or until done. In a seperate bowl toss the watercress in the applesauce and place on the cooked pie. Sprinkle the crispy Prosciutto di Parma on top and enjoy like mad!