Pizza Margherita

I have nine pizza cookbooks, and seven of them have  a recipe for Pizza Margherita.  In part this is because it is a classic, and in part because the story of its creation is clearly known and iconic.  In 1889, the Italian royal couple King Umberto and Queen Margherita paid a visit to Naples.  While there, local pizzaiolo Raffaele Esposito made three types of pizza for them: a marinara pizza with anchovies; a bianca (white) pizza with lard, provolone or caciocavallo cheese, and basil; and a pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, featuring the red, white, and green of the Italian flag.  The queen was particularly delighted by that last one, and when Esposito received a note of thanks from her, he dedicated the pizza to her.

THE DOUGH

Start dough at 4p for dinner between 8p and 9p
1 cup warm water
2 tsp instant-rise yeast
3-1/4 cup bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin not necessary)
Combine ingredients and knead by hand for 10 minutes or machine
for two to five minutes. Coat dough ball in a thin film of olive oil or cooking spray, cover in plastic wrap, and let rise in warm place until about doubled in size.

THE PIZZA

1 Tbs olive oil
1 cup chopped canned Italian-style plum tomatoes with as little juice as possible
1/2 cup loosely-packed torn fresh basil leaves
6 oz. (1 cup) fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced thin or chopped coarse (You can also substitute Fontina, as I often do.)

Although not traditional, for this pizza, I also used:
6 oz. sliced pepperoni
1 can of anchovies, drained

About an hour before dinner time, turn the oven up as high as it will go, preferably 500 degrees. Thirty to forty minutes before baking, roll dough out to 15” circle. [Or divide dough if you want to make two smaller pizzas.] Place on pizza screen if available, being careful not to press the dough into the mesh. With your fingers, press and form a 1/2 inch border around the edge.  Gently brush or rub the dough with the olive oil.  Cover with plastic wrap for this second rise.

Spread the pepperoni and anchovies (if using) evenly over the dough up to the border, followed by the tomatoes.  Sprinkle half the basil leaves evenly over the tomatoes.  Arrange the cheese over the tomatoes so that some of the tomatoes can be seen.

Bake the pizza on the bottom rack of the preheated oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the crust is brown (as you can see, mine got a bit darker than I would have liked).  Sprinkle on the remaining basil leaves as soon as the pizza comes out of the oven.

I’m thinking only a true Italian wine should go with this, such as a Dolcetto, Barbera, or Montepulciano.

Mangia! Mangia!

Serves 4 to 6.

The dough for this recipe came from James McNair’s excellent New Pizza Don’t be discouraged by the one-star reviews, they are bogus, imho.  One dweeb complained that McNair didn’t cover such arcane techniques as cold fermentation.  Geez.  If you want a cold ferment, use room temperature water and let the dough rise in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  But, you’re not going to have pizza tonight, and you won’t taste the subtleties a cold ferment brings to dough under all those toppings.

The Margherita recipe itself is derived from one in The Ultimate Pizza by Pasquale Bruno, Jr., another quite reliable pizza book.

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Fajita Pizza

Many people like fajitas.  Many people like pizza.  So, how about … a Fajita Pizza!  Ole!  Grazia!

Start marinade (see below) as early in the day as you like.

THE DOUGH
Start dough at 4p for dinner between 8p and 9p
1 cup warm water
2 tsp instant-rise yeast
3-1/4 cup bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil (extra virgin not necessary)
Combine ingredients and knead by hand for 10 minutes or machine
for 2 to 5 minutes. Coat dough ball in a thin film of olive oil, cover in plastic wrap and let rise in warm place.

THE PIZZA
About an hour before dinner time, turn the oven up as high as it will go.
Twenty to thirty minutes before dinner, roll dough out to 15” circle. [Or divide dough if you want to make two smaller pizzas.] Place on pizza screen if available, being careful not to press the dough into the mesh.  Cover with plastic wrap.

2 Tbs chili powder
2 Tbs ground cumin
1 Tbs ground coriander
1 tsp crumbled dried oregano
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Ground cayenne to taste
1 pound beef skirt or flank steak, or chicken (thighs are best), cut into slices about 3 in. long and 1/4 in. thick. (I actually used duck, but My Lovely Wife wasn’t amused by the extravagance.  And honestly, the nuance of the duck was lost in this pie.)
2 medium bell peppers.  Any color will do, but I like red
1 medium onion, cut into thick slices
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/4 cup water
3 cups freshly shredded cheese: cheddar, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, fontina, whatever you like
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro
1-1/2 cups chunky salsa, store bought is fine.  I like Pace.

In a large zip-lock bag, combine all of the ingredients except the cheese, cilantro and salsa.  Marinade for as long as you like.

While the dough is undergoing its final rise, place a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  When the oil is shimmering, pour the entire contents of the zip-lock bag into the skillet.  Cook until the meat is done, the vegetables have softened, and the liquid has evaporated.  Remove plastic wrap from dough and brush liberally with olive oil.  Spread salsa evenly over dough.  Spread contents of skillet evenly over salsa.  Evenly spread the cheese over the pizza.

Bake in rippin’ hot oven until crust nicely browns, about 10
minutes.  Remove pizza to a cutting board, sprinkle with cilantro, slice, and serve.

This would go nicely with a robust Italian or Spanish red wine or a good Mexican beer.

Serves 4 to 6.

Cecchi Wines

La Fea Selección Especial 2018 with Deep Dish Pizza

Two Unusual Wines from Italy, and One of My Original Pizza Recipes

Altolandon Rayuelo

This recipe was derived from James McNair’s excellent New Pizza Don’t be discouraged by the one-star reviews, they are bogus, imho.  One dweeb complained that McNair didn’t cover such arcane techniques as cold fermentation.  Geez.  If you want a cold ferment, use room temperature water and let the dough rise in the refrigerator for 24 hours.  But, you’re not going to have pizza tonight, and you won’t taste the subtleties a cold ferment brings to dough under all those toppings.

Top of page: https://winervana.com/blog/