Friday, April 23, 2010

Bar Cento at Home

Irregularly shaped homemade pizzas. Looked for a decent online recipe, and from there it was easy. I kept it pretty simple--halved the linked recipe, let the dough ferment in the fridge overnight, and then removed the doughballs an hour or so before I planned to bake.

Instead of stretching the dough I rolled. Whatever, I'm not this guy. I was going for a rectangle. More on that below. The dough was pretty elastic but also pretty easy to work with--it wasn't prone to tearing and was easy to lift off a butcher block without any preflouring. I went super thin--it's what I like. It's not hard to keep it thicker. I used bread flour.

Pizza types. The red one was simple. Good canned tomatoes (imported, but not San Marzanos--I like the freshness and price of this one brand I can only seem to find at Heinen's), salt, a little pepper, little clove of garlic, splash of olive oil, and dried oregano. All that was buzzed briefly in a food processor. That went onto the raw crust and got topped with sliced fresh mozzarella (patted dry with a paper towel), fresh basil, and a sprinkle of salt. That's her below after being cooked and topped with some parm.

The white pizza was a revelation. The same thinly stretched dough first got lubed with some olive oil. Then on went thinly sliced fresh garlic, spinach, crumbled ricotta salata, these redic pickled onions (caramelized onions may be a decent sub), just a little salt, and some more olive oil. After baking it got a drizzle of some old and thick balsamic. It's a sweet pie.

Baking. Much easier than anticipated. First, the rolled dough was put on a peel (an old cheese board) that had been sprinkled with cornmeal. The pizza was assembled on the makeshift peel and slid off at baking time pretty easily. As for the baking itself, prior to all the prep I turned the oven up to the max--that was 545 for me. In the oven was something like this, flat side up. That preheated for maybe 40 min. Because the griddle is rectangular, that's what I aimed for with the shape of the pies. They cooked one at a time.

Okay. I'm not an expert. But for folks considering dismantling their ovens or using improvised explosives to get enough heat to bake an "authentic pie," a hot oven with cast iron (and--omg--no pizza stone) works very well. The thinner pies were charred on the bottom in less than 5 minutes. I think. I didn't time it but those pies were in and done. A slightly thicker pie, like the closest one in the top pic, still took well under 8 min to be all crispy. This method works (I even think I saw some old food network show where some baked pies on top of upside down cast iron skillets). Build a wood burning oven in your house/yard if you'd like--I know I'd love one--I'm just sayin it ain't necessary for good pie.

And that's it. Good pie with great ease. As for the rest of the Cento entrees, most of those seem be a bit more involved.

And another dinner:
Plum Creek slow roasted duck. Cooked and parted out and kept warm in the cooking vessel with Killbuck brown oyster mushrooms cooked in bit of the rendered duck fat with white wine, shallot, and thyme. While the cooked duck rested the pan was deglazed with the mushroom mix prior to the cut up duck going back in. There were no leftovers to add to the pizzas that were cooked the next day. Very sad.


mr. pineapple man said...

they both look very delicious! im going to try out gorgonzola pizza tonite!

Lizzie Ackerman said...

those pizzas have a strange shape....

The CFT said...

Thanks Pineapple man. Enjoy.

Whatever Hackerman.

Bite Buff said...


stefan said...

i've easily made over a hundred pizzas using dozens of recipies before setteling on alton brown's:

now that you've got that fancy mixer, you've got the key: 15 minutes of kneading with the dough hook. sounds excessive, but it truly produces a superior dough. i'll make 3 batches at a crack, split them, a little olive oil in a ziploc, and throw it in the freezer. pull it out in the morning, and it's good to go by dinner time. i use a mix of 1 3/4 cups of bread flour, and 1/4 semolina for a little extra texture.

Heidi Robb said...

Gorgeous bird- looks like you did Plum Creek proud..

dining tables said...

Both look so delicious! I like the pizza with the strange shape but has this very yummy picture!

The CFT said...

Thanks Buff, Stefan, Heidi, and DT. Stefan, I may try the AB method. I made a second batch with same recipe I used unhalved and it was even better. I also kind of want to throw some barley malt syrup into the mix.