Week 4 – Pizza Winner
It looks like we have a resident Italian cooking expert here at Better Recipes! Remember Lou and his outstanding Saltimboca Alla Romama from the “Italian” themed contest last time around? Well, he has done it again, this time with pizza! Lou says, “cook what you love for those you love.” Wonderful words to live by! Now, let’s check out his winning pizza.
The title means “White Pizza With Prosciutto and Arugula.”
1/2 cup Warm (105 – 110 Degrees F) Water
2 Tbsp Honey
1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast (about 1 1/8 Teaspoons)
1 1/4 cups Bread Flour, plus additional for work surface
2 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Extra-virgin Olive Oil
4 – 8 oz slices Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced into 1/4″ disks
1/4 lb Prosciutto Ham, about 8 thin slices
1 cup Arugula
8 Parmesan Shavings
1. In a 1 cup measuring cup, combine the water and honey stir to combine and sprinkle the yeast over it. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 10 minutes. If the yeast doesn’t “proof” (get “foamy”) pour it out and start again it is important to have a live yeast mixture.
2. Meanwhile place the flour and the salt into a sifter and sift it into the medium bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the olive oil and the “proofed” yeast mixture. Turn the mixer fitted with dough hooks to high (labeled knead on my mixer) and turn on. Continue kneading (mixing) until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball around the dough hooks (scrap the sides of the bowl to move flour into the path of the hooks as needed).
3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth but still slightly tacky (add flour gradually as needed to reach the slightly tacky state), 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap cloth and set in a warm, draft-free place until nearly doubled in size, 1 to 1-1/2 hours.
Construction and Baking
1. Place an appropriately sized pizza stone on the bottom (not on a shelf, putting the stone in contact with the oven bottom will allow it to get hotter and provide the slight charring on the bottom of the pizza that is the signature of a good Italian pizza) of your oven and pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees F.
2. On a clean, flat, lightly floured work surface, place the ball of dough and, with fingertips and working from the center of the flattened ball out to the edge, press it into a disk of dough approximately 10 to 12 – inches round about 1/8 inch thick (if necessary use a rolling pin to achieve the 1/8-inch thickness [don’t worry if the pizza isn’t perfectly round . . . that’s called “rustica” and it’s the way “real” Italian pizza looks in Italy]).
3. Distribute some cornmeal over the surface of a pizza peel (this will act as “ball bearings” and allow the dough disk to move easily over the surface of the peel) and transfer the formed pizza base onto the peel. Evenly distribute the sliced (or shredded) mozzarella over the dough disk (leave about 1/2-inch rim of uncoated dough around the edge of the “pie” to form a crust). Gently shake the peel to insure the pizza moves freely (if it doesn’t gently lift the edges of the pizza and distribute additional cornmeal until it does), using the peel slide the pizza onto the stone and bake the pizza until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 10 – 12 minute in a 450°F oven.
4. Using the pizza peel remove the pie from the oven and allow it to cool slightly. Once the pie has cooled for a minute or two distribute the sliced prosciutto, arugula and Parmesan shavings over the top of the pie. Slice into 8 slices and serve!
Helpful Tips: If your oven heats unevenly, after about 5 minutes check the pizza and rotate to insure even cooking.
The winning recipe is one I’ve been making for years, I’ve been experimenting with pizzas since high school when I worked in a “pizza parlor” as a teenaged pizzaiuolo (Italian for pizza chef). This particular recipe was one I came up with about 30 years ago when “pizza pies” began to become “fufu-ized” and were moving from tomato sauce, cheese, and traditional toppings to more eclectic combinations of ingredients. Over the years I’ve been a United States Marine and had a career as a computer software engineer but my first love has always been cooking, Better Recipes has become a vehicle for me to share my recipes with other people who share that love. While I don’t enter recipe contests often, I do enter them when the themes match what I consider my specialties. I have won one other contest with my recipe for Saltimboca alla Romana. I don’t have any plans for the present prize money but if I were fortunate enough to win the grand prize I’d probably use it for another trip to Montalbano Jonica in the Basilicata region of Italy where my ancestors came from.
Congratulations Lou! We all look forward to enjoying more of your outstanding Italian dishes!
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