Posts Tagged ‘spinach pizza’

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).

 

 

Roman Pizza Bianca

Well, it’s that time of the year again. It’s Halloween season and my business is in the throws pizza madness. The late season crops are booming and I am gearing up my strategy to win the International Pizza Expo’s Pizza Challenge in Las Vegas in March. I’ve dusted off my pizza thinking cap and thought that I just might make a pizza bianca. (or not…think I’m stupid? I’ll not give away my soon to be winning pizza to anyone!) Either way, everytime I make these pizzas, it takes me back to Rome.

The thing I miss most about Rome besides drinking espresso and puffing on a Cuban cigar in the sunshine at an outdoor cafe on Via Margutta, is sampling all the different types of Pizza Bianca. Just last year my good friend Bruno di Fabio and I found a little panificio near the Vatican which had the best zucchini, egg and parmesan pizza bianca as well as numerous other pizza bianca that just blew me away.

Last week I found the time to kick out some P.B’s. I made these with a pre-ferment made with a 70/30 mix of high protein flour and local spelt flour. To this I added a biga, salt, yeast and organic malt syrup. I then mixed it with a hydration of 65 percent-(not “ciabatta sticky” but just this side of annoyingly sticky,) then retarded for four days under refrigeration. This gorgeous baby, (above) has all my favorites and I bake it here at Avalanche often. I started with Bellwether Farms Carmody cheese, late season heirloom tomato, panchetta, onion, Calabrian chili’s and arugula.

Normally, the Italians from Rome would mix a batch and let it proof for up to five or six hours depending upon the time of the year. Then they cut and formed into a football shaped loaf about two feet long and left to proof again for upwards of 20 minutes for the gluten to relax. The it is formed into a five to six foot loaf using the piano method of lightly jabbing fingertips into the soft dough after being brushed with olive oil. I proof my dough in specially made pans, (above.)

My formula for the dough is different (of course) and I will give you a peek at that later this week as well as the recipes for these pizzas.

Most Romans find solace in eating the pizza bianca plain and hot out of the oven, (above) or stuffed with a miriad of items like a pita… (oops, I just made a few thousand Roman enemies.) I like a protein like prosciutto and arugula with pear and balsamic but shredded zucchini, mint, arugula and tomato is a big hit here in Athens, Ohio.

 Here is my stuffed pizza bianca with Genoa salami, roasted zucchini, mint, tomato, arugula, spinach and some olive oil and salt.

I made four pizzas using the goons pizza bianca dough.

A Sicilian Sfincione with the incomprable Stanislaus Alta Cucina tomatoes, onions, anchovies, oregano, pecorino and bread crumbs. This fit perfectly atop the puffy rise of the bianca dough.

 

Then I baked an organic zucchini pizza bianca with mint, pecan, local goat cheese from Integration Acres, parmesan and those same stellar Stanislaus tomatoes. (In fact my modis opperandi is to open the can, then select the biggest, juciest tomato and gobble it down over the sink before any of my staff catches me in my secret guilty pleasure.)

Next was a spinach, gorgonzola, pear and walnut pizza bianca which was particularly “Nad-Pumping” (a great gutteral term a chef once was fond of saying. Should I stop now? Heck no.

Last was a fabulous P.B. with sea salt and rosemary. 

“Holy crumb Batman! any way you slice it, Pizza Bianca is a hit!” I’ll try to find time to throw some of these recipes your way this next week, (as soon as I get done with this dang pizza making business of mine!)