The Perfect “Napoletana” Style Pizza

basil slices Wild Mushroom and Margherita

Over this summer I’ve thought about the places I’ve been and there’s one city that keeps coming up. Have you ever felt at home somewhere even if it’s not your real home? I feel this way every time I am in Venice. During the three days it’s taken to proof this pizza dough I tried to pinpoint a reason for my attraction to Venice. All I could come up with is that it’s surrounded by water, has good food, everything’s old and the city has a distinct smell. The smell isn’t appreciated by everyone but I like it. Maybe I like Venice because time stands still there.

The thin pizza dough recipe used here is in Food and Wine’s April 2013 issue. You can find the recipe online, too, at foodandwine.com. The caption above the recipe reads, “Time—not a 1,000-degree oven—is essential for these delicious, Neapolitan-style pies.”

Time…and the desire to make real pizza…are exactly what I have during this long summer break. It takes 3 days to prepare the dough and the recipe lives up to its advice.  It is worth the wait. “The dough for a great crust—delicate and crisp on the outside, tender and elastic on the inside, with a subtle, complex tang—needs at least [three days] to proof (leaven with yeast).”

Remember that it takes 3 days for the dough to proof. Did I mention that already? i.e. Start on a Friday if you want to eat pizza on a Sunday. Use a little less salt than the recommended 3 tablespoons. Two tablespoons is enough. Taste the raw dough before seasoning any of the toppings with salt.

Doppio Zero (double zero) flour is a must. It’s a very fine version of flour and is used for Italian doughs and pastas. I found Doppio Zero flour at Doris Italian Market and Bakery in Pembroke Pines. I felt at home here, too. Doris’ produce is much less expensive than the variety you find at major supermarket chains. For example, Fresh Basil or Oregano for $1.29 vs. $3.99 a package at other markets. Visit Doris’ Market if you can and wander the aisles even if it’s just to see how many varieties of pasta and tomato sauce are in existence. Below are the styles/toppings you can try. They are perfect enough for this perfect dough.

PS-Napoletana pizzas have nothing to do with Venice…because they are named after the place where they originated–Napoli.  But this doesn’t change the way I feel about Venice.

The Pizza Toppings

Margherita
Spread ½ cup Perfect Pizza Sauce onto the dough and top with ¼ lb sliced fresh mozzarella cheese, a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and a light grating of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. Bake the Pizza at 500 for 6-8 minutes. (8 minutes for a more crispy crust) Remove from oven and top with about 10 basil leaves.

Perfect Pizza Sauce
Pass one 28 oz can whole San Marzano tomatoes through a food mill. Blend the puree with 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt.

Squash and Arugula
Grade Parmigiano-Reggiano over the dough and top with ¾ cup shredded Fontina, 2 ounces thinly sliced summer squash (about ½ small squash), 1 teaspoon chopped rosemary and 1 or 2 chopped Calabrian red chiles (I omitted the chiles). After baking at 500 F for 6-8 minutes, top with ½ arugula leaves.

Portuguesa
Ingredients:
Perfect Pizza Sauce
Thickly shredded Mozzarella Cheese
Ham slices, chopped into one inch pieces (omit for vegetarian)
2 Hard-Boiled Eggs, dropped into ice water immediately after boiling. Wait 15 minutes, peel and slice.
Sliced Onions, boiled and drained
Canned peas, drained
Black olives, drained
Fresh Oregano

Spread the Perfect Pizza Sauce (see above) on the pizza, then top with mozzarella, ham, (I omitted the ham to make this vegetarian), egg slices, onions, peas, black olives and oregano.
Wild Mushroom with Caramelized Onions, Fontina and Rosemary
Adapted from Bon Appétit | September 2004

Ingredients:
3/4 lb. assortment of wild mushrooms (Shittake, Oyster, Portobello)
½ shredded Fontina cheese
½ cup dry white wine
3 tablespoons butter
1.5 onions, sliced lengthwise then crosswise
1.5 tablespoons minced garlic
1 medium shallot, minced
1 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and pepper

Melt 1 tablespoon butter with 1 teaspoon olive oil in heavy skillet over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until golden, about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter with ½ teaspoon olive oil in another heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms, garlic, and shallot. Sauté 4 minutes. Add wine and simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 11 minutes. Add rosemary; season with salt and pepper.

When ready to bake the pizza, lightly brush the dough with garlic oil or olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup Fontina cheese. Scatter 2 1/2 tablespoons onions over the cheese. Scatter 1/2 cup mushrooms over the onions. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 500 F for 7-8 minutes.

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