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
Recipe slightly adapted from Saveur
This recipe yields 4 pizzas
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.
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.
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.
Remove fried dough from oil. Set on wire cooling rack. Repeat with all dough.