~ Pizza alla Puttanesca with Puddles of Mozzarella ~
Gutsy-flavored puttanesca and marinara sauce have always been my two favorite pasta sauces. They are both relatively quick-to-make and they freeze great, so, I always have them on hand. There's more. When these two pasta sauces are allowed to simmer a bit longer than usual, until they reduce and get extra thick, both become my two favorite pizza sauces. Marinara-based pizza sauce is my all-purpose pizza sauce because it plays well with all sorts of cheese and topping combos. In the case of puttanesca-based pizza sauce, it is the star topping. A homemade crust, puttanesca sauce and two-types of mozzarella cheese -- that's it. Period.
Pizza gets made once a week in our household. Usually Friday, sometimes Sunday. Over the years, I've developed a few types of dough to make several types of pizza: Neapolitan-, Sicilian, Chicago-, and St. Louis- style (to name four). I also came up with an all-purpose dough to make short work of some uniquely-topped creations: Philadelphia cheesesteak pizza, Buffalo chicken pizza, Pizz' alads, and, Puttanesca pizza. The ingredients for the dough knead and rise in the bread machine in 55 minutes. In the meantime, I simply prepare the topping du jour.
Part 1: Making My A-1 All-Purpose Bread-Machine Pizza Dough
This is my easy, all-purpose pizza dough -- although it wasn't easy for me to come up with it, as it took several rounds of experimentation. Like my other 'za dough recipes, this one had to meet my requirements for this type of pizza. What I wanted from this dough was a high-quality, quick-and-easy time-saving New York-Style pizza dough for those times when I want/need this popular type of pizza in a relative hurry with no worry -- if you have teenage kids, you know what I'm talking about. Depending upon how large you want the pie, you can make it thicker, thinner, or somewhere in between. It can be round or square and it can be baked in a pan or on a stone too. It's versatile. It is, simply put, a great all-purpose pizza dough for novice pizza makers and busy folks who want to skip pizza delivery, or worse, that horrible store-bought pizza dough.
Thanks to the combination of all-purpose and high-gluten "00" flour, plus the addition of just the right amount of semolina flour to give it a bit of resilient chew, it turns out two crispy-bottomed pies with tender chewy centers -- it's pliable enough to hold and fold each slice in half too!
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup "00" flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1 packet granulated yeast, not rapid-rise yeast
Add the all-purpose flour, "00 flour" and semolina. Using your index finger, make a well in the top of the flour and add the yeast to it. Note: When making any type of bread machine dough, always add the wet ingredients first and the dry ingredients last.
~ Step 2. Insert the bread pan into the machine. Close the lid and push the "select" button. Then choose the "pizza dough" cycle. Push the "start" button. While the machine is running, ready your kitchen scale and pastry board.
(During this 55 minutes, prepare the puttanesca pizza sauce as directed below.)
~ Step 4. Using a paper towel, oil 2, 12" round pizza pans or 2, 12" x 9" rectangular pans with about 2 tablespoons olive oil on each pan. Place one ball of dough on each pan and allow to rest, about 10-15 minutes -- to give the gluten time to relax. Thirty minutes is ok too.
Note: For demonstration purposes, I'm make one round and one square pizza today, and, I'm not using fancy, expensive pans either.
~ Step 5. Pat and press dough evenly across bottoms and evenly up sides of pans. I do this in 3 parts taking 15-20 minutes, allowing dough to rest 5 minutes each time before patting and pressing again.
~ Step 6. To top each of two puttanesca pizzas, on each crust, place: 8 slices deli-style mozzarella cheese. Add and spread 1 1/4 cups puttanesca pizza sauce (recipe below) over the top of the mozzarella. Arrange 8 ounces small, fresh mozzarella balls (that have been sliced in half), or, pieces of sliced fresh mozzarella over top. Lightly sprinkle dried oregano over tops.
~ Step 7. At this point, pizzas can be baked, one-at-a-time on center rack of a 375 degree oven that has been heated with a pizza stone in it, or, you can let them rise in the pans for 1 to 2 hours prior to baking, which, if you have the time, is worth the wait. This allows you to assemble the pizzas ahead, which is really nice, and, it allows the crust to rise a second time, rendering it nice and airy, which is nicer.
~ Step 8. Place each pan of pizza on pizza stone for 6-8 minutes. Using a spatula, lift a corner of the pie up and using your other hand (via a pot holder or mitt), tilt pan and slide pie off the pan onto the stone. Continue to bake for 6-7 more minutes, for a total of 12-15 minutes baking time. Crust will be lightly-brown and cheese will be molten. Using a pizza peel, transfer pizza to a rack to cool for 3-5 minutes, to allow the cheese to set up a bit, prior to slicing and serving.
Part 2: Making My "Star Topping" Puttanesca Pizza Sauce
Garlic, onion, capers, anchovies, olives, red pepper & oregano!
1 cup medium-diced yellow or sweet onion
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2 2-ounce cans anchovy fillets, packed in oil, well-drained & diced
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup large non-pareil capers
1 cup sliced or chopped pitted black olives
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon minced, fresh oregano leaves
zest of 1/2-3/4 lemon for adding to sauce + the additional zest for garnishing finished pizza
~Step 1. Heat olive oil in a wide-bottomed 4-quart stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion, salt and black pepper. Adjust heat to gently sauté, until the onion is soft, stirring frequently, about 6 minutes. Add anchovy fillets and garlic. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until anchovies have disappeared into mixture and garlic is soft, about 3 minutes. Add and stir the tomato paste and red pepper flakes into the mix. Cook for 1 more minute. Add the crushed tomatoes, capers, black olives and sugar.
~ Step 2. Adjust heat to a gentle, steady simmer, partially cover the pot and continue to cook until thickened and pizza saucelike, about 15 minutes. Stir in the oregano and lemon zest and continue to cook an additional 5 minutes. Yield: 6 cups.
Puttanesca pizza. From first gutsy-flavored slice...
Special Equipment List: 1-cup measuring container; bread machine; kitchen scale (optional); 2, 12"-round pizza pans or 2, "13" x 9" baking pans (or one of each); paper towel; pizza stone; large metal spatula; pizza peel; large cooling rack; cutting board; chef's knife; 4-quart saucepan
Cook's Note: Puttanesca sauce: Called "sugo" alla puttanesca, meaning, "sauce" in the stye of a prostitute. The word "puttanesca" derives from the Italian word "puttana", meaning "whore". Puttana comes from the Latin word "putina", meaning "stinking". Whether truth or myth, research revealed three stories that, when referencing "whores" and "stinking", most couldn't resist mentioning: 1) Puttanesca was a cheap dish "working girls" could cook from the cupboard between "customers". 2) When referencing "stinking", the sauce's strong aroma would lure men from the streets into houses of ill repute. 3) The dish was served to men awaiting their turn.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2017)