Pizzas (cont’d)

April 16, 2009

Now that the basic dough has been mastered, it is time to assemble. Pizzas and calzones are rather simple creatures once you get the drill. But to reduce any unnecessary anxiety and enhance the pie making experience, it is crucial that the ingredients be prepared in advance with most all mise en place before dressing those yeasty doughs. Having the components neatly arrayed before you in bowls creates a sense of empowerment. Isn’t the kitchen really about controling chaos anyway?

When arranging the toppings, the dough should be rolled out on a pizza paddle which is sprinkled with a thin, but consistent, layer of cornmeal.

Be original, and think seasons, color, harmony, and design—almost feng shui. Please exercise restraint, remembering the cardinal rule that less is best.

Each recipe below uses the basic pizza dough recipe found in the preceding post (Pizza & Calzone Dough), which does not bear repetition.

LEEKS & PANCETTA

3 leeks, most of top trimmed off, well cleaned and sliced
2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
1 C pancetta, cut into lardons, 1/2″ square or so
8 ozs fresh mozzarella, shredded or thinly sliced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
A large pinch dried thyme

Extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano reggiano, grated

1 pizza dough, rolled out

Preheat oven to 500 F with pizza stone inside for at least 30 minutes.

Sweat sliced leeks in olive oil and butter until tender. Season with salt, pepper and thyme while cooking; set aside and cool. Cook pancetta in a drizzle of olive oil until crisp and lightly browned; drain on paper towels. Brush pizza dough with olive oil, using a pastry brush. Spread mozzarella over dough, leaving the border uncovered. Strew leeks and pancetta over the dough. Bake the pizza, until browned, about 10-12 minutes. When cooked, immediately garnish with a drizzle of olive oil and a healthy dose of grated parmigiano reggiano.

PISSALADIERE

Pissaladière, a classic onion marmalade, olive and anchovy pizza has its origins in southern France. This tart derives its name from pissala, a Provençal anchovy paste.

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
3-4 yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced
3 plump, fresh garlic cloves, peeled and minced
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 t fresh thyme, minced

10 high quality olive oil-packed anchovy fillets, drained
1/2 C whole Nicoise olives, pitted

Extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano reggiano, grated

1 pizza dough, rolled out

Preheat oven to 500 F with pizza stone inside for at least 30 minutes.

In a large heavy skillet or sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onions, salt, pepper and thyme and lower the heat. Cook slowly, stirring occasionally, until cooked down and nicely caramelized, 35 to 40 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1-2 minutes more.

Brush pizza dough with olive oil or garlic olive oil, using a pastry brush. Spread the onion mixture evenly over the pizza, leaving the border uncovered. Arrange the anchovy fillets in a criss cross or diagonal pattern over the onions. Bake the pizza, until browned, about 10-12 minutes. When cooked, garnish with olives, a drizzle of olive oil and a grating of parmigiano reggiano.

PIZZA MARGHERITA

3 C chopped fresh tomatoes, seeded, coarsely chopped and well drained
8 ozs fresh mozzarella, shredded or thinly sliced
Sea salt
12 fresh basil leaves, shredded (chiffonade)

Extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano reggiano
Whole basil leaves

1 pizza dough, rolled out

Preheat oven to 500 F with pizza stone inside for at least 30 minutes.

Brush pizza dough with olive oil, using a pastry brush. Spread tomatoes uniformly over the pizza dough, leaving the border uncovered. Distribute mozzarella evenly over the surface of the tomatoes. Lightly salt, then strew basil over the mozzarella. Bake the pizza, until lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. When cooked, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a grating of parmigiano reggiano and ribbons of basil leaves for color.

*Chiffonade: stack 4 or 5 basil leaves flat on top of one other. Roll the leaves tightly. Cut thinly with a very sharp knife which will create ribbons.

MUSHROOM

2 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T unsalted butter
1/3 C ruby port
1 T fresh thyme leaves, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 lbs assorted mushrooms, such as porcini, shiitakes, chanterelles or morels, sliced
8 ozs fresh mozzarella, grated
4 paper thin slices of proscuitto or serrano, then sliced again lengthwise (optional)

Extra virgin olive oil
Parmigiano reggiano, grated
Several sprigs of fresh thyme

1 pizza dough, rolled out

Preheat oven to 500 F with pizza stone inside for at least 30 minutes.

In a heavy skillet over medium high, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the mushrooms, port and thyme and cook until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper during the cooking process. Set aside. Brush pizza dough with olive oil, using a pastry brush. Strew mozzarella evenly over pizza dough, leaving an uncovered border. Distribute mushroom mixture evenly over the top of the mozzarella.

Bake the pizza, until lightly browned, about 10-12 minutes. When cooked, garnish with a drizzle of olive oil, a grating of parmigiano reggiano and some thyme sprigs for effect.

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