Let me start, once again, by thanking all of you who voted for me to move on to Round 5 of Project Food Blog! I am amazed to have made it this far, humbled by all the kind and encouraging comments, and so grateful for all your support! Thank you all so much.
This week the challenge is titled Recipe Remix:
One recipe, 100 variations! We’re challenging each of you to put your own spin on the same recipe. How you do it is up to you. Will you try out some molecular gastronomy techniques? Share a super-secret trick? Or re-envision the dish from a different perspective? You’ll be asked to put your own spin on Pizza.
I could have gone a million different directions with this challenge, from non-traditional bases to exotic toppings, but after a lot of thought I decided to make a traditional pizza, and in fact it is MY ultimate pizza. If I am going to have pizza, I want to have the finest pizza I can with all my favorite toppings.
Pizza is one of those things that is either done very well or done very badly. I don’t waste my time on bad pizza. Honestly, there is no excuse for gummy crust, plastic cheese, and manufactured toppings when fresh, wholesome ingredients are available. With that in mind I went on a little shopping spree for toppings, and I’m ashamed to admit I went a little overboard – about $50 overboard! – on toppings and exotic cheeses, but trust me when I say it was totally worth it!
As I said, this is my ultimate pizza. Of course, you can add whatever toppings you like, these just happen to be my favorites and let me tell you why. For me this pizza has the perfect balance of smokey, spicy, sweet, and savory all on a crisp and chewy crust. The secret of this pizza is not loading it down with toppings and cheese. Each topping packs a lot of flavor so a little goes a long way. My rule of thumb is to add enough so each slice gets a little of the love! This is also a good place to break out some good cheeses, none of that ready-shredded business. Last, and by no means least, is the crust. My crust is made with a Texas beer, Shiner Bock. A lot of pizza recipes have you proof your crust for a day or two in the fridge to develop flavor. Using beer rather than water gives you that long proofed flavor with out the actual long proof. Like I said, this is my ultimate pizza, and so far no one who has tried it has complained!
Sweet, Smoky, and Spicy Pizza on a Bock Beer Crust Yield 4 medium or 2 large pizzas
For the Bock Beer Crust:
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast (or 2 teaspoons instant yeast)
1 1/2 cups Shiner Bock, or any bock, beer
1/4 cup water
Olive oil for brushing
For the herb sprinkle:
1/2 teaspoon dry oregano
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dry thyme
For the cheese blend:
2 – 6 ounce Fresh buffalo mozzarella, sliced thin
1 cup smoked young cacioavallo, or smoked provolone, grated
1 cup fontina fontal, grated
1/2 cup grana padano stravecchio, or Parmesan
For the toppings:
2 cups Simple Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)
1/2 cup caramelized onions
4 strips Candied Bacon, cut into 1″ pieces (recipe follows)
3 ounces hard Spanish chorizo, sliced thin
1/2 pound button mushrooms, sliced and browned
4 – 1/2″ slices of fresh pineapple, grilled and cut into 1″ pieces
Fresh basil for garnish
In the bowl of a stand mixer, with the hook attachment, combine the flour, semolina flour, baking powder, and salt.
In a small bowl proof the yeast, if using active dry, in 1/2 cup of beer. Once foamy, about ten minutes, add it to the dry mixture along with the remaining cup of beer and the olive oil.
Mix on low speed for three minutes. The dough should be fairly sticky but form a smooth ball. If the dough seems dry add the water one tablespoon at a time until no dry flour remains. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 5 minutes.
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface and form it into a smooth ball. Place in a greased bowl, turn once to coat, and cover with plastic until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.
Heat the oven to 500 F with a pizza stone on the lowest rack of the oven for thirty minutes before you are ready to bake.
Once fermented turn the dough out on a lightly floured cutting board. Gently press the dough to degas then divide into four equal pieces. Round the pieces and let rest, covered, for ten minutes. (You can place any dough you don’t need in a freezer bag and freeze for up to two months at this time.)
Once rested form the pizza crust to your desired size and thickness by picking up the dough and gently stretching in a circle. Transfer the dough round on a semolina dusted square of parchment on a pizza peel or the back of a baking sheet. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with the herb mixture.
Bake for two minutes, then remove the crust from the oven, discard the parchment.
Spread 1/4 to 1/2 cup of tomato sauce evenly over the pizza, then spread 2 tablespoons of the caramelized onions over the sauce. Add 4 or 5 slices of the fresh mozzarella, 1/4 cup each browned mushrooms, and 1/4 cup grilled pineapple chunks. Next add 1/4 cup each of the smoked young cacioavallo and fontina fontal. Add 5 or 6 pieces each of the chorizo and candied bacon. Finish with freshly grated grana padano stravecchio.
Bake the pizza for an additional 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust is crust is brown. Garnish with fresh torn basil, if desired.
Simple Tomato Sauce Yield 2 cups
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 – 28 ounce can whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
1 large red onion, peeled and cut in half
1 clove garlic, minced fine
Salt to taste
In a medium pot over medium heat melt the butter until it foams. Add the tomatoes, garlic and onion and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour. Remove and discard the onion and simmer, stirring often, for another hour. Taste the sauce and season with salt as desired.
Candied Bacon Yield 6 strips
6 strips thick cut, smoked bacon
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
Heat the oven to 375 F and line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire cooling rack on top.
In a small bowl mix the spices with the brown sugar.
Place the bacon strips on the wire rack about an inch apart. Top each slice of bacon with the spice mixture.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the bacon is crisp and the sugar is bubbling. Cool on the rack for 5 minutes before serving.