What I had for dinner:


[ Previous ] 28 Jun 1994 10:09:17 -0400 [   Next   ]

Pizza is the only recipe that I inherited from my Maltese grand-mother. Since Malta is only a stone's throw from Sicily, it is not surprizing that their pizzas look much alike, thick crust and all. And no cheese .

For an 11x15" rectangular pan, I make a dough from 2 or 3 cups of flour, depending on the thickness of the crust. Two cups give a crust that is about 1/3" thick. Thus, to 2 cups of flour, 1 envelop of dry yeast, and 1 tsp of sugar (to kick-start the yeast), I added 4/5 cup (200 ml) of hot tap water and kneaded (in a mixer!) until the dough was very smooth and elastic. Depending on the flour, one may need a little more flour or water; the dough should be barely sticky.

The dough must now rise twice. The bowl, covered with foil, is placed in an oven at 90-100 F, or on top of the fridge, or in whatever warm location is available. It should be punched down after it has at least doubled, and is ready when it has at least doubled again.

Meanwhile, the sauce. The sauce should be precooked. There is no way a tomato sauce can cook properly in the short time that it takes a pizza to cook in the oven. It does not matter much when it is the thin smear drenched in melted cheese fat of a street-corner slice, but here the sauce is the meat, so to speak.

A large onion coarsely chopped is cooked in olive oil until it just begins to turn golden. Then, 3 crushed bay leaves, 1 tbsp of rosemary, 1/2 tsp of mace, and 2 tbsp of fennel seeds are added and cooked briefly. 1 large can of crushed tomatoes with purée is then added, together with 2 tbsp of oregano and 2 tbsp of sambal oelek or whatever red pepper one wishes. The sauce is cooked over very low heat (so that it does not scorch on the bottom) for an hour or so.

When the dough is ready, oil well the pan and line it with the dough carefully, so as not to cause tears that are difficult to mend because of the oil. Work the dough up the sides a bit and let it retract, so that it covers the bottom completely, but it does not need to form a raised border. It should now be covered with foil or cloth and allowed to rise for about 20 min. Make sure the foil does not touch the dough, as it could tear it.

Spread the sauce generously (there may be a little extra), then dot with unpitted oil-cured black olives (those from Marocco seem to be the best available in New York), about one per inch, or 1/3 lb. Finally, criss-cross the surface with anchovy fillets from 2 standard cans of flat fillets (soaked in water a little while to rinse away some salt. The olives and the anchovies are the only source of salt in the entire preparation).

Bake at 350 F for 40-45 min, or until the dough retracts from the sides and is crispy underneath.

Let cool slightly, slide onto a cutting board and slice. Makes 4-5 large servings, or numerous snacks and lunches. This pizza is excellent cold.

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