Pizza Contest Winner – Caramelized Onion, Gorgonzola, and Pear Pizza
Pear and gorgonzola cheese. This sweet and savory combination just has that certain something…
When I heard that the winning recipe from our recent pizza contest showcased this classic Italian flavor combination, my mouth just watered and I was excited to make and photograph the dish. Let’s hear from our latest winner, Lou Sansevero!
Lou says, “I am s-o-o-o excited to have won BetterRecipes’ Pizza Contest for a second year in a row. Some 46 years ago my first real job was as a pizzaiuolo (Italian for pizza chef) and although it only lasted about a year until I went into the Marine Corps it left me with a life-long love of pizza making and a burning desire, which I am yet to fulfill, to someday open my own restaurant. This particular recipe is inspired by the memory of my grandfather, who immigrated to America alone at the age of 15, and who had a great love, which he often shared with me, for snacking on pear slices and Gorgonzola cheese.
If I had one quote to share with my fellow BetterRecipe members it would be to remember that recipes are only a starting point, you need to add some of your own preference to them to make them yours and that you can never go wrong if you prepare what you love for those you love!”
Authentic Pizza Dough:
2 1/2 cups Bread Flour, plus additional for work surface
1 cup 105 Degree Water
1 Envelope Active Dry Yeast
1/4 cup Honey
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tsp Salt
2 lbs Onions; Peeled, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced
1/2 stick Butter
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Sugar
3 Large Pears, cored and sliced in half lengthwise
1 Tbsp Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
2 oz Gorgonzola or Bleu Cheese, crumbled
Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Authentic Pizza Dough:
In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine the water and honey, then 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 as it is important to have a live yeast mixture. Meanwhile, place the flour and salt in a sifter and sift it into the medium bowl of a stand mixer. Make a well in the flour and pour in the olive oil and yeast mixture. Turn on the mixer, fitted with dough hooks, to knead. Continue kneading until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and forms a ball around the dough hooks. Scrape the sides of the bowl to move flour into the path of the hooks as needed. 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, 3-5 minutes. Lightly oil a large mixing bowl with about 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl and turn to oil the ball on all sides. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or cloth and set in a warm, draft free place until nearly doubled in size, 1-1 1/2 hours. Place a pizza stone on the middle shelf of the oven and heat to 450 degrees.
Remove the risen dough ball from the bowl and place it on a lightly floured work surface. Flatten into a thick disk and with fingertips and palms, working from the center of the disk out to the edges, pressing into a thin disk of dough 10-12 inches around and about 1/8 inch thick. If necessary, use a rolling pin to achieve the 1/8 inch thickness, but don’t worry if the pizza isn’t perfectly round. That is called rustica and is the way real Italian pizza looks in Italy. If really brave, try the spin and toss method of forming the pie, but just remember to use your knuckles when spinning and tossing as fingertips can cause holes. Sprinkle flour over the surface of the thin disk as this will become the bottom of the pie when placed on the peel. Distribute some cornmeal over the surface of a pizza peel and transfer the formed pizza base onto the peel, insuring that the lightly floured side is on the bottom.
In a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the olive oil so the butter doesn’t burn. When the oil and butter mixture is hot, add the onions and sprinkle with the sugar. Saute the onion until they begin to brown. Stir in 4 tablespoons of the Balsamic vinegar and continue sauteing until the onions are caramelized. Slice each half pear in half and slice the resulting quarters lengthwise into thin slices. Gently toss the pear slices with the lemon juice so they don’t turn brown. Place a pizza stone on the middle shelf of the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Place one of the dough balls on a lightly floured work surface and flatten it into a thick disk then, with fingertips and palms, work from the center of the disk out to the edges, pressing into a thin disk of dough 10-12 inches around and about 1/8 inch thick. If necessary, use a rolling pin to achieve the 1/8 inch thickness, but don’t worry if the pizza isn’t perfectly round. That is called rustica and is the way real Italian pizza looks in Italy. If really brave you can try the spin and toss method of forming the pie, just remember to use your knuckles when spinning and tossing as fingertips can cause holes. Sprinkle flour over the surface of this thin disk. This will become the bottom of the pie when placed on the peel. Distribute some cornmeal over the surface of a pizza peel and transfer the formed pizza base onto the peel insuring that the lightly floured side is on the bottom. Evenly spread 1/2 of the caramelized onions over the pizza, evenly arrange half of the pear slices on the pie, evenly crumble 1/2 of the Gorgonzola over the pie and finally evenly distribute 1/2 the shredded mozzarella. 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 until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven, then slice and serve. Repeat with the remaining dough, toppings and cheeses.
Bobbie says, “To me, creative cooking is all about trial and error. It is about taking chances and figuring out what ingredient is going to make a recipe stand out, and most importantly taste delicious. The combination of ingredients in this pizza give it a wonderful mix of flavors, colors, and textures. That’s what makes it so appealing. It looks like a gourmet pizza yet it is easy to make. It is so rewarding when a recipe comes together and others like it!”
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