Connie's Pizza with Gorgonzola, Walnuts, Rosemary and Sopressata
Slashfood declared today Pizza Day, and since every Friday for about the last 8 years has been Pizza Day in my kitchen, I couldn't be happier. Making a pizza a week, and trying not to repeat myself too many times, I cast far and wide for ideas and this favorite of ours is a good example.
Connie's Pizza is named for our mysterious friend Constance, who sometimes lives in Boston and sometimes in Italy. She slips back and forth between her two worlds without fanfare, so we never know where she is. Sometimes when she's in Boston she drops-in (she's the last of the in-droppers, I think) with some sort of goodie from her kitchen. This pizza is based on a pasta sauce she stopped by with a few years back, which I then reverse engineered into one of my most popular pizzas. Gorgonzola and walnuts, rosemary, garlic, basil, tomatoes and sopressata: how could I miss!
1/4 C walnuts, rough chop, toasted
1/4 C rosemary, minced
1/4 C basil, minced
3 oz Gorgonzola, cut in small chunks
4 oz sopressata sausaage, cut in sticks about 1" long
15 grape tomatoes, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 pizza shell (see below)
Stretch dough into pizza shell shape. Allow to rise 30 min. Mix nuts, sausage, 2/3 the garlic and most of the herbs. Mix the rest of the garlic with the tomatoes and 2 tablespoons oil.
When the shell has risen 30 minutes, spread a couple of tablespoons olive oil on the shell and then the nuts / meat mixture. Bake 10 minutes on a preheated stone in a 450º oven. Add the tomatoes and cheese, turn the oven down to 400º and bake about 10 minutes more, until the crust is starting to brown. Scatter remaining herbs over the pizza, slice and serve immediately.
Pizza Master Recipe
2 pizzas, about 14" diameter
5 C flour
4 tsp SAF instant yeast
2 tsp salt
1 - 3/4 C warm water
Put all ingredients except water in food processor with steel blade in place. Process for a few seconds, then pour the water slowly into the chute, a quarter cup at a time. Process until the dough comes together into a ball and starts to ride around on the blade. The dough should be somewhat dry, but not too stiff. Sometimes, due to humidity or whatever, you have to adjust by adding a little more flour or water. This becomes easy with practice.
Turn out on board and divide into two balls.
[At this point you can freeze the dough, in plastic bags somewhat larger than the doughballs (to allow for the small expansion that will take place before they freeze). When ready to use, remove the frozen dough ball from the plastic, place in a bowl, pour some olive oil over it, cover with plastic wrap and allow about 9 hours for the dough to thaw and rise to double. In other words, put it out in the morning when you get up if you want to have pizza for dinner.]
If not freezing, roll each ball in some olive oil and place in a bowl, covered with plastic wrap, to rise until doubled, about 1 to 1-1/2 hrs.
Put the stone in the oven if it's not there already and start the oven at 450º. Then roll or press the risen dough into pizza shells. Spread a couple of tablespoons of cornmeal over the peel and place one of the shells on it. [If you are making two, spread some cornmeal on a clean section of counter or cutting board and lay out the second one there.] Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise 1/2 hour.
Add toppings and bake on preheated stone in the 450º oven about 10 minutes. Lower temperature to 400º and bake about 10 minutes more, until crust is starting to brown.
Note: the first rising may be slowed by placing the dough in the refrigerator. Or, it may be accelerated by placing it in a warmer environment.