Sunday, 8 April 2012

Pizza Fritta

This is, hands down, one of the best pizzas I have ever eaten. If anything could possibly cure the deep itch to escape to the cobblestone streets of Italy, this is it. At least for a while.

What's that you say? You've never had the desire to go to Italy? Well, this will cure that, too.

Recipe from Jamie Oliver's Italian cookbook, Jamie's Italy.

Let's start with the pizza dough.

1 1/4 lb. flour (I used 6 1/3 cups)
1 1/2 cups of semolina flour
1 Tablespoon fine sea salt
1 Envelope active dry yeast (1/4 oz)
1 Tablespoon golden caster sugar
2 cups lukewarm water

First: add the yeast and sugar to the lukewarm water, mix with a fork and leave for a few minutes. The yeast will get kind of a bubble reaction.

Pile flours and salt on clean surface and make a 7 inch well in the center. Pour yeast mixture in. Using a fork, slowly bring in the flower in circular movements. When it's too hard to continue mixing with the fork, using your hands, begin to knead the dough, tucking in, rolling forward, turn and continue, for ten minutes.

Note: if you don't have semolina flour, you can use more white flour instead, however I highly recommend finding some semolina. It gives the dough a really good texture and it tastes more authentic. You can find it in any grocery store and it's not expensive at all.

Let dough rest for at least fifteen minutes. While your waiting, you can make your pizza sauce:

extra virgin olive oil
1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced
a bunch of fresh basil
1 14 oz can of plum tomatoes
salt and pepper

Add a splash of oil to a saucepan, add the garlic and cook gently, until the garlic has turned golden. Then add half of the basil. Personally, I like to use a tablespoon or two of dried oregano in the sauce and leave the fresh basil for topping the pizza. I've also once used a tablespoon of dried oregano and then the same amount of dried basil in the sauce and that was good, too.

Add the tomatoes, salt (if there was no salt added to the canned tomatoes), pepper, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring and mashing the tomatoes until you get the smooth consistency that you want. If you like it chunky, you can leave it that way. I take an immersion blender and blend it smooth, and also add about half a tablespoon of sugar, just to round it out so it's not to sharp.

Now, back to the dough.

Divide the pizza dough into 6 balls. One ball is enough for one medium pizza. For this recipe though, individual sizes were needed, so I took three of those and cut them in half. Wrap the other ones in plastic and keep them in the fridge or in the freezer to use another day.

Roll the dough to one quarter inch thick and let them rest for ten minutes. My kitchen is rather small and didn't have enough space to let them sit out on their own, so I had to oil some tin foil and layer them. You would never tell there are six pizzas in here.

Heat about 3/4 inch oil (I used peanut) in a frying pan. Gently lay your dough in the pan, 30 seconds on each side.

Oh, did I forget to mention we're frying these pizzas? We totally are. Don't freak out. The oil is really hot so as to quick fry, so not a lot of the oil will be absorbed. Besides, this is actually how the original pizzas were made when they were first invented, so consider it an edible history lesson. You're welcome.

Lay on a pan and continue to fry the other pizzas.

Layer with the sauce. I used two boccochini balls per pizza and ripped them into pieces. Chop some fresh basil and drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on top.

Pop under a hot broiler until the cheese is melted and the dough is light brown.

And here you have the most incredible pizza you will ever eat. This is everything you've always believed, way deep down, that a real pizza should be, and that an "American" style pizza, with its thick crust and greasy, processed meats will never stand up to, try as hard as it might. Those will fill you if you eat enough, but they still leave you wanting more, even if you don't realize it. Just one of these "pizza frittas" however, and you will be supremely satisfied, mind, body, and soul.

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