Friday, October 25, 2013

Ugly Pizzas

My friend Vanessa may have created a monster by introducing me to the 101 Tastes of Ottawa List from Ottawa Magazine. I don't plan to try the whole list (I'm not going to pay for a whole meal at The Whalesbone Oyster House on the off-chance that they will serve browned butter, which I can make at home.) and a lot of it is stupid (Kale?!) but it's a handy guide for narrowing down a lot of things to those worth trying.

Meanwhile, my friend Lucia recently gifted me some smoked ricotta that her parents brought back from Italy.

Sooooo delicious.
Number 92 on the 101 Tastes list is Pingue's Prosciutto (not from Ottawa, but whatever) that can be purchased at a great deli/butcher/grocer/baker called The Piggy Market in Westboro.

I don't know about you, but to me ingredients as delicious as these scream "Pizza!"
Like tomato sauce, I've decided that pizza is the best when you use high quality ingredients and don't overcomplicate it. And like tomatoes, the uglier the tastier.
(At least that's what I'm telling myself. I can't toss a pizza crust. I think they're cute!)


Rustic (ugly) thin-crust pitas.
makes two pizzas to serve 2-3

Crust
6 oz lukewarm water
1/2 Tbsp active dry or instant yeast
10 oz flour
1/2 Tbsp salt

Dissolve yeast in water and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes. Add flour and salt and mix into a shaggy dough. Knead dough and remaining flour until smooth and elastic, adding a bit of flour at a time if the dough starts sticking.

Form dough into a ball, cover with a damp tea towel and allow to sit in a warm spot for about an hour to 90 minutes, or until dough has doubled in size. While dough rises, make sauce and prepare toppings.

Sauce
2 cups canned San Marzano tomatoes
4-6 cloves garlic (depending on size)
1/2 Tbsp your very best balsamic vinegar
big pinch salt
small pinch red pepper flakes
10 leaves fresh basil

Put all ingredients but basil into a food processor and puree until smooth. Add basil leaves and pulse until they're finely chopped and incorporated. (You will have lots of extra sauce, but it keeps well frozen.)

Deliciously ugly and ready for the oven!
Toppings
3 oz prosciutto, very thinly sliced and divided in half
4 oz smoked ricotta (or more to taste), coarsely grated and divided in half
2 tsp your very best extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1 large beefsteak tomato, thinly sliced
15-20 basil leaves, torn or thinly sliced
freshly ground black pepper

(I have a tomato shunner in the house, so the second pizza subbed out tomatoes for green peppers. He claims it was good, but I can't imagine it being better than it was with tomatoes.)

45 minutes before cooking, preheat oven to 500 degrees. You want it to be hot well before you put in the pizzas. (If you have a pizza stone, you should put it in to preheat, unless I'm totally wrong about how pizza stones work. I don't have one. *cough*Christmaswish*cough*)

Cut dough in half with a pastry/bowl scraper and, working one half at a time, stretch into a (roughly) pizza-shaped, thin crust and place on its own piece of parchment paper. Brush each crust with 1 tsp olive oil and spread as much sauce as you'd like, but not too much or it will be soggy (I added 3-4 Tbsp per crust). Scatter cheese over sauce and then add remaining toppings, putting the prosciutto on last so it crisps up.

Put the pizza, still on its parchment paper, onto a baking sheet (or pizza stone) in the oven and cook for 5 minutes at a time, turning the pizza every five minutes and removing the parchment paper when it's possible to free the crust from it. If your pizzas look almost done, check them after 3 minutes instead of 5.

Slice, top with fresh arugula, and serve with a simple salad (dressed with lemon and olive oil).