The Philosophers' Pizza
Category: Main Dishes | Blog URL: http://shebrewsgoodale.wordpress.com/2009/12/13/the-philosophers-pizza/
This recipe was entered in The Foodista Best of Food Blogs Cookbook contest, a compilation of the world’s best food blogs which was published in Fall 2010.
Photo: Sheri Wetherell
As you know, I recently brewed my first batch of home brew, a light ale from an extract kit from Morebeer.com.
It turned out unexpectedly well, and we’ve been enjoying it over the last couple of months straight from our very own tap. (Not a tap in a kegerator, mind you, but my jerry-rigged mini fridge from the 80s that houses my keg and co2 tank.)
We’re finally getting to the end of the keg–I think I squeezed the last few drops out last night–but those final two pints did not go to waste, they accompanied the perfect pizza.
Now, I lived in Italy for a year and return periodically to visit friends, eat good food, and drink good wine and beer. I learned how to make pizza from my Abruzzese friends, starting from the dough, up. (Abruzzo, it is said, is the origin of Italian pizza.) Philosopher #2 is part Italian and grew up in New York, eating the likes of Totonno’s, Lombardi’s, Di Fara and Grimaldi’s. Combined, our pizza acumen is higher than our collective IQ.
I am a die-hard traditionalist when it comes to Italian food. These days I hardly ever set foot in an Italian restaurant unless I know for certain that the food is authentic (why bother?). Philosopher #2, on the other hand, grew up with an Italian-American culinary heritage, which is often ironically at odds with traditional Italian cuisine. But we both love pizza. So, we combined our brains and over the course of two years, we set to work refining what would become the perfect marriage of classic Italian pizza and the best of American innovation. We call it the Philosophers’ Pizza.
A traditional margherita napoletana is extraordinarily simple. After letting the dough rise, you break a handful of San Marzano tomatoes over the top, slice a few large rounds of fresh mozzarella (bufala, if you prefer), drizzle olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt. Put it in a blistering wood-fired oven, drop fresh basil leaves over the top, then serve. Simple.
It took me a long time to break from this culinary ethic. In fact, it took the insistent threat that the pizza would simply not be eaten by my other half if we did not make a sauce, rather than utilizing straight tomatoes. Thus was born our margherita, made with a sauce, rather than whole-peeled tomatoes.
But I can’t say that I dislike the flavor of this pizza any less. In fact, I like it just as much if not more than the traditional margherita. The Philosophers’ Pizza still has a light, thin crust, and utilizes San Marzanos, fresh basil, and not too much mozzarella. It may not be exactly traditional, but it has the rest of Italy, anyway, ed è buonissima.
Here, so you can build it from the ground up, is our recipe for the Philosophers’ Pizza. Plato would have loved it, and so should you.