Saturday, March 15, 2014

Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza

I like winter for the first four months.  Once March hits though, it's time for some warmer temps to accompany the recent extension of day light.  We shouldn't be getting 6" snow storms in mid-March.   8°F for the morning commute is silly.  With this winter placing 3rd in terms of snowfall in the past 146 years of Chicago weather, I'm getting a little tired of shoveling.  46 measurable snowfalls this winter, at times it has been a challenge to find room for it all between houses and in the alley.  Luckily, my neighbor doesn't use his garage so everyone has piled their snow in front of it.  The cold, the shoveling, the icy sidewalks, I can deal with all of that with little complaining.  The thing that gets me teed off most about the cold season- getting stuck behind the moronic winter drivers.  Those highway left-lane Prius' driving with their flashers on going twelve.  It should be illegal to drive a Prius in the left lane anyway.  The SUV owner with 4WD operating their vehicle as if it would slide off the road if they depress the accelerator.  If you can't navigate your motor vehicle in 2 inches of snow, stay home and wait for the roads to clear.  Take public transportation.  Or at least stay in the right lane, just get the hell out of my way.  I got shit to do.

Speaking of morons, I love how the local news finds these people to interview at the store right before a 'huge' storm hits.  4-6" are coming down tomorrow!! Gotta hit the Wal-Mart for canned goods and bottled water!  Where do they find these dumbasses?  First of all, water comes out of your faucet.  Kitchen sink and bathrooms too.  Secondly, how poorly stocked is your pantry if you need to make an emergency run for 1-2 days of food?  Having plenty of cupboard ingredients is important to creating successful meals, and some of the best dishes are when you throw a bunch of shit in a skillet, apply heat, and taste what happens. 

I'll never let the pantry become so dilapidated we can't make a simple pasta dish; mac-n-cheese, a carbonara, tuna noodle, or just noodles, butter and parm cheese.  What should you always have at the ready, snowstorm or not?  Mustards, canned tuna and/or salmon, artichokes, olives, capers, anchovies, whole and diced tomato, tomato sauce, chili sauce, taco sauce, salad dressings.  Oil and vinegars.  Dried pastas.  Rice.  Beans.  Dried or canned fruit.  Flour and yeast.  I'll run out of diapers and beer before I run out of something to make for dinner. 

We made this pizza last week to try and conjure the warmer weather.  It's light yet flavorful for summer eating.  There's a salad on top! If you tend to not like arugula due to the peppery bite, no worries- the lemon juice helps to tame the greens. 

There's only a few ingredients in this recipe, so the old saying holds true- the quality of those ingredients is key.  Get some good Italian prosciutto.  Don't use the pre-shredded mozzarella crap.  And for the love of all things culinary, don't ever buy lemon juice in a plastic container.  Parmesan cheese in a green can?  Hell no.  I'd go off on jarred garlic too, but some of you might argue that one. 

Having or going to a Saint Patrick's Day party? Like to bake? How about some cupcakes?

Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza
pizza dough, recipe below
2 medium cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
6 oz fresh mozzarella ball, halved and cut into slices
3-4 oz. proscuitto
3 C packed arugula
2 TB fresh lemon juice
shavings of parmigiano reggiano

For the pizza dough-
1 ts or one packet of quick active yeast, 1 C of warm water (110°F), add 1 ts white sugar and stir well. Let sit until foamy, about 5-8 minutes. Meanwhile, add 2 ts kosher salt and 2.5 C bread flour (King Arthur preferred) into the bowl of your stand mixer. Or a large bowl if hand kneading. Shake to mix the salt and flour.  Add wet to dry and stir to incorporate, then mix on speed 1 using the dough hook for about 5 minutes. If your dough sticks to the bottom, add a pinch more flour.  If your dough isn't coming together after a minute, add a half ts water. When ready, the dough will become shiny and elastic. Turn out onto very lightly floured surface and knead by hand for 1-2 minutes, then shape into a ball. Rub or spray a little oil on the inside of the cleaned bowl, add your dough ball and toss around, then cover with a kitchen towel and place in a draft-free area for about 1.5-2 hrs, until the dough has doubled in size. Turn out onto your board or clean counter and punch down to release trapped air, form into a rough circle shape, cover with plastic wrap and kitchen towel for at least 5 minutes, up to 30.  Any longer than that park in the fridge for a couple hours.  Don't have a stand mixer?  Knead by hand for 10 minutes. Go buy stand mixer. 

With your pizza stone on the bottom rack of your oven, preheat at 500°F for at least 30 minutes, 45-60 is ideal.

Using a rolling pin, roll out your dough moving from the center outwards, rotating the dough as you go.  A perfect circle (not the band) isn't necessary, in fact a better shape would be one that forms to your peel and stone.  Roll out to your desired shape, should be a bit less than 1/2" thick.

Sprinkle a little flour on your peel so the dough doesn't stick.  Carefully transfer the dough to the peel.  Drizzle with a couple ts of EVOO, then evenly spread out the sliced garlic.  Layer on the mozzarella slices.  To transfer the dough from peel to stone, hold the peel with the pizza at the back edge of the stone, then shake gently to loosen, placing the pizza on the stone as you remove the peel.  Bake until the crust is browned on the bottom and the cheese is nice and bubbly and golden brown, about 9-11 minutes.  The crust should sound hollow when you tap on it, and you can lift up an edge to check on the Maillard reaction. 

Toss the arugula and the lemon juice in a mixing bowl.  Add the slices of the prosciutto to the hot pizza, then the arugula.  Return to the oven for a minute to slightly wilt the greens.  Let the pie rest for 3-5 minutes, then top with the shavings of parmigiano reggiano, cut into slices and devour.

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