Tuesday, June 15, 2010

2010 Challenge: Pizza Delicious

Pizza. Maybe you get bored with it, but I can't. Everything about pizza seems tailor made for obsession. The way it fits in your hand, how it is equally good late at night as it is early in the morning, how it gets along with nearly everyone, and how it never gets mad if you don't call. But mostly because it combines flavors, textures, and smells in a most perfect bite.

Lindsay and I had another run-in with Pizza Delicious a few weeks ago, this time with their homage to the Beatles white album: spinach, ricotta, mozzarella, olive oil and these candy sweet red tomatoes. Instead of trucking back to Broadmoor, we just brought some beers and devoured the pizza on the truck of our car. With the sounds of a neighborhood ping pong game in the background and the evening's river breeze, the meal rivaled anything in Christendom.

First, you gotta make or buy dough. This time I went with a two day process to craft the dough. On the first day, combine half your flour (here 3 3/4 cups), yeast or starter, 2 cups of water, and a generous tablespoon of salt. Mix this until it is a paste, cover it and stick it in the fridge overnight. The next morning you add the remainder of your flour (another 3 3/4 cups) and knead until you get a nice, dense dough. Set it aside to rise. This will give you a lot of dough, so be prepared for pizzas for days, just like this one filled with everything we could find from the fridge at the end of the week.

Our main focus that weekend was to make calzones. A calzone is not technically a pizza, but it is not far off. Translated from the original middle English into Latin it means, "pizza that has been folded over to a neat package which one should keep in ye old pocket." Now if you poke a little hole in the crust, it becomes a stromboli. If you fill it with chocolate and cinnamon, you become an idiot.

Eventually, the unglazed ceramic tile which doubled as a pizza stone in my oven cracked. A trip back to Home Depot failed to produce another as the check out girl had never rang up just one tile. 20 minutes later, I gave up relishing the opportunity to allow necessity to give birth to another child named invention. Take a baking sheet and turn it upside down. On top of this, place a silpat - a silicon coated, non-stick invention up there with the wheel of Parm. Pop this in your oven and crank the thing to as high as she'll go. When ready to bake, just place the calzone or pizza directly on the silpat. Because the sheet is inverted, there is no lip to catch your pizza peel.

The calzones were no slouches either. We plied the countertop thick with mozzarella, pepperoncinis, mushrooms, olives, and pungent herbs like basil and oregano, then set to stuffing like grandma on Thanksgiving. Fold it over, crimp the ends, rub some egg wash on top, and sprinkle some salt on the crust. Be careful, this mother will shoot piping hot molten cheese if you don't let it cool. It is a risk we willingly take.


Celeste said...

That's a good-lookin' calzone. Have you tried high-gluten flour yet? If you like calzones, it's a must. HG flour yields a stretchy dough--it can be stretched quite thin yet it won't tear when stuffed full of goodies.

One note about SilPats; I think they're only oven-safe to 400 or 450 degrees...so don't try to use it with a 550-degree oven for neapolitan style pizza!

Rene said...

Oops. I cranked my oven to 550. I did notice it has darkened significantly.

Will check out the HG flour. Been using King Arthur Bread flour with decent results. But it doesnt get as stretchy and windowpainy as I'd like. So thanks for both tips. Hopefully this weekend at Home Depot, someone knows how to ring up just one tile.

Bobby Massa said...

We've been alternating between Slice and Reginelli's as our source for pizza dough. Saves so much time in prep, and is a quick last minute dinner option when we have some leftover ingredients from dinner the night before.