Pizza Montanara Strarita (Fried Pizza w/ Fresh Marinara Sauce)

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When I stumbled upon this recipe on Saveur I was immediately intrigued by the thought of what would result from the sorcery of combining crispy on the outside-chewy on the inside first fried dough topped with fresh tomatoes, basil, chili flakes, and two types of cheese, including the pièce de résistance, deep and complex (also hard to find) smoked mozzarella. Only to be briefly placed in a super hot oven until melty deep golden perfection is achieved. I know. I know. I could barely contain myself either.

I knew that for a pizza that sounded this special I would forgo the same-day crust I’ve been using for years and instead make Peter Reinhart’s Napoletana Pizza Dough Recipe from one of my favorite baking books, ‘The Bread Baker’s Apprentice.’ Whoa! When I tell you that in my haste, choosing convenience over the one or two night refrigeration recommended by any respected pizza chef, I, in fact, deprived myself the experience of ever truly tasting pizza as the gods intended. I mean it. This pizza, in its entirety, is sublime.

Can we talk about ‘The Goonies’? Yes, the never say die classic  every child of the 80’s can still quote lines from. Do you remember the final scene from the movie when *spoiler alert: the kids are rescued, the treasure has been found and Chunk’s mom greets him on the beach with a box of pizza, his favorite. Something he’d waxed poetic about and pined for in a couple of previous scenes in the movie. Such a great film!


Well, ‘The Goonies’ was the featured movie for May at Food ‘n Flix hosted this month by Heather of Girlichef. I was able to catch it on TBS for, I don’t know, maybe the 15th time. This was great choice. It never fails to make me nostalgic, and there are so many awesome ’80’s food references. Food ‘n Flix is a fun club anyone can join in where each month one of the hosts selects a movie to be watched by all the participants and then we make a dish, dessert or drink inspired by the movie. Cool, right? This pizza is my contribution.

Pizza Montanara Strarita or Chunk’s New Favorite

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Ingredients




Recipe slightly adapted from Saveur

This recipe yields 4 pizzas

14 cup olive oil, plus more, Could use sunflower oil alternatively
34 tsp. crushed red chili flakes
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
14 cups peeled and crushed vine-ripe tomatoes, pref. local, from 4-5 medium tomatoes (No need to be exact. Close enough is fine here.)
3 sprigs basil, plus 16-20 leaves
Kosher salt, to taste
Non-GMO Canola or Sunflower oil, for frying
Fine semolina, for dusting
1 lb. smoked mozzarella, shredded
14 cup grated pecorino romano
Instructions
For Sauce: Place medium saucepan over just over medium heat. Heat oil. Add chili flakes, and garlic to pan. Use wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula to move garlic until it becomes slightly golden and fragrant, approx. 1 minute.

Add tomatoes and sprigs of basil to pan with salt; allow to come to boil. Lower heat to medium. Allow sauce to cook until thickened, 25-30 minutes. Remove and discard basil sprigs.


 *This is where I made the biggest change. The original recipe would have you heat a pizza stone under a broiler for 30 minutes, then once the dough has been shaped and fried, top fried dough with sauce, basil and cheeses on pizza peel (or flat surface pizza can slide off, like the back of a cookie sheet), and transfer to pizza stone (or, again, an inverted cookie sheet that was heated for 30 minutes) for 1 & 1/2 minutes, until cheese melts. You can absolutely do that.

The ‘broil’ feature on my oven should instead read ‘burn’ because that’s exactly what it does to everything. So, if you have the same issue with your oven, I’ll include directions for both broiling and baking.


1a. To Broil: Put pizza stone in oven, set to broil for 30 minutes.

1b. To Bake: Preheat oven to 500°.


 2. Add 2″ of oil to large pan, such as a Dutch oven. When thermometer reaches 350°


3. In four separate batches, lightly dust 1 ball of dough with semolina flour or cornmeal. Press dough with tips of your fingers into a circle shape approx. 10″ from top to bottom and 1/4″ in thickness. Leaving a 1″ crust around circumference of circle, carefully lift dough onto your hands and, with your hands in fist shape, gently stretch center of dough to 1/8″ thickness. The dough will mostly do the work on its own. *Here’s where it gets tricky: You can place the dough down onto a very lightly floured surface to poke dough with fork, or if you have some extra hands to help, have them poke holes using a fork over the dough while you hold it.


 4. Lower dough gently so that it lands in the oil away from you. Fry on each side for 1-2 minutes, until golden and puffed. Use large metal spatula, slotted spoon, or mesh spider to keep center of dough submerged in oil. If using the bake method, fry less time, approx. 1 minute, until just lightly golden.

Remove fried dough from oil. Set on wire cooling rack. Repeat with all dough.


 5. Carefully remove heated stone (or cookie sheet) from oven and set on stove top. Spread 1/4 amount of sauce over pizza, torn basil and the two cheese’s. Broil for 1-1 1/2 minutes, until cheese melts. Bake for 3-6 minutes until cheese melts and crust becomes deeper golden in color. Serve hot.
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8 thoughts on “Pizza Montanara Strarita (Fried Pizza w/ Fresh Marinara Sauce)

    • Thank you, Heather. I’m sure you’re right about that. They’d eat it right in front of the poor kid while he just drooled (and cried). It’s really something special. =)

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  1. I am absolutely craving this. You are so right about good, authentic, homemade, non-rushed pizza dough. Saving this recipe to try soon!

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    • Oh please do. And let me know what you think. I adore this pizza. I’ve never had anything like it. I’ll never make pizza dough in haste again. Thanks for your comment.

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