Pizza with Brussels sprouts and pancetta – 16 January 2011

OK, wow, it worked! At least well enough to be a great dinner and to tell me what I needed to change.

In New York last month, we had lunch at Motorino at the behest of my friend A. The pizza was outstanding, and I had been craving it… from the other side of the country. So I Googled it. Seems a lot of other people think this is about the best pizza in New York (see below for links). The fundamentals are Brussels sprouts and pancetta (the chef has also done this using speck instead of pancetta) and fresh mozzarella of the cow’s milk persuasion (not mozzarella di bufalo).

Here is the recipe I will use next time. It represents an increase of about 50% in Brussels sprouts and pancetta over tonight’s version (which was still really good).

Dough:

Sponge: 1/4 cup warm water, 2tsp yeast, 1/4 cup bread flour (sit 20-30 mins)

Dough: add 1/2 cup warm water, 1Tbsp milk, 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp sugar*, and about 1 3/4 cups flour. Knead more than 5 mins. Rise till doubled or so. Split the dough in half and freeze half. Shape the rest of it by pressing from the center outward with fingers till it is thin and about 12″ in diameter. If it is hard to do this, let the dough rest while the oven preheats to 500 degrees. [My oven never admitted to reaching this temp tonight. This may actually be the timing for 450 degrees instead. Watch your pizza.] [*The sugar is on suggestion of Cooks’ Illustrated, which says it helps the crust get dark and… crusty. The rest of the recipe is the basic Chez Panisse pizza/calzone dough from Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza and Calzone.]

Have all ingredients ready so you can assemble the pizza quickly, so as not to let it attach itself to the peel. When you have finished stretching the dough and have placed it on the peel [I may try putting it onto the peel after assembly next time]:

Sprinkle a couple of tsp minced garlic over the dough (two moderate cloves)

Dot with chunks of fresh cow’s milk mozzarella (not mozz di bufalo, says the chef). I used one ball, chopped into about 12 pieces.

Scatter individual Brussels sprout leaves from 8 or so small sprouts – fewer if they’re large. Discard the outer leaves, core the sprout, and peel off the leaves. You can slice the last, hard-to-separate leaves into very thin discs if you like. Scatter the leaves around the pizza.

Scatter small pieces (perhaps 3/8 inch square?) of bacon-thin sliced pancetta, separated so they will cook well, over the pizza. Salt, and drizzle the pizza with olive oil.

Cook about 8 minutes at 450 – 500 degrees, or until the crust and the pancetta are done.

After removing from the oven, top with finely-grated pecorino Romano, and drizzle with more oil.

EAT!

We had our great favorite house wine, Chateau Saint-Sauveur Cotes du Ventoux, which was an excellent choice by D.

Here is a slide show, mostly about how to prep the Brussels sprouts.

Here is the movie wherein Matthieu Palombino shows how to make this pizza. THANK YOU Matthieu! The site is hard to Google b/c they have misspelled “Brussels”, leaving off the ‘s’.

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