Friday, January 28, 2011
I promised myself that I would wait at least a week before blogging again about pizza. But...I just had to share one more niblet of information gained during my Bonci pizza class at Tricolore last week.
I’ve told you how to make the dough. And how to top the crust. Now, two more nifty pizza tricks that Bonci pulled from up his sleeve, for you to try at home.
Pizza Stuffed with Spinach and Mortadella
If you’ve been to Rome, you’ve probably had pizza bianca. This is the plain pizza crust that is sold in most bakeries. The best, in my humble opinion, is to be found at Roscioli and - of course - Pizzarium. While most people buy a chunk, still warm from the oven, wrapped in paper to nibble on as they stroll, another way to enjoy it is sliced open and stuffed with anything from Mortadella to stracchino.
Well, to brutally assault a perfectly good piece of pizza bianca, by slicing into its heart, was just too cruel a fate according to Bonci. So he invented a way to bake the pizza, so that it separated in two layers naturally, while it was baking. This way preserving all the precious air bubbles that form during the rising of the dough.
Oil the pan and carefully lay the dough down. Pile high with fresh, raw spinach, which has been dressed with olive oil and a bit of salt. Really pile it on.
Gently lay the top layer of dough over the spinach, pinching down the edges so that the dough forms a seal at the edges. Drizzle with olive oil, and then poke a few holes in the dough, to let the steam escape. Cook in oven till done.
When pizza is done, take out of the oven and open it up like a book. Some spinach will stick to each side, and the halves will come apart easily.
Add a layer of mortadella to one side of the pizza, on top of the spinach.
Flip the other side back on top of the bottom, cut into slices and serve.
Bonci invented this next trick pizza while preparing pizza for 3000 people in Spain. Yup. 3000. He arrived to find that he had at his disposal one smallish mediocre semi- professional oven. While his wife counseled him to get the hell out of there, he took it as a challenge. But there was no way he could churn out enough traditional pizzas, with a crust that he was going to be happy with, since the oven wouldn’t get as hot as he needed it.
So he decided to flip things around. He layered eggplants and other veggies on a tray, seasoned them, and then covered them tightly with a thin layer of pizza dough. This way the eggplant, trapped with its juices beneath the dough, steamed and cooked on it’s own, turning velvety. And the crust, which was exposed to upper heating element of the oven above, cooked fast enough to turn crispy crunchy. And since the toppings were, well, bottomings, they didn’t get the crust all soggy. When finished, the tray was flipped over, and the whole thing topped with a grating of provolone.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scatter raw, sliced onions, that have been dressed in olive oil and salt. Then place a layer of thinly sliced eggplant, so that it covers the tray completely.
Season with olive oil, salt and red pepper. Crumble some steamed potatoes on top of the eggplant.
Prepare the dough and carefully lay it atop the prepared vegetables, pinching down the edges to form a tight seal. Top with oil and bake in oven
When the pizza is done, take out of the oven and flip the tray over. Top the pizza with a grating of provolone, cut into slices