February 7, 2013 |

2010 December: Show Stoppers

By Pasquale Bruno, Jr.

2010 December: Show StoppersTired of the classic Pizza Margherita? Have you had it with all of those (fi ll in the blank) “Lover’s pizzas”? It’s time to move on and get creative. Here is a menu of show-stopping, delicious pizzas that are easy to make (three or four well-chosen toppings at best). And, most of these pizzas sport a relatively low food cost … yet you can easily charge a bit more. These 11 pizzas will definitely set you apart from the crowd (and crowded) pizza market. In each of these, where a sauce is called for, use the tomato(es) or pizza sauce you are currently using. That way, you are good to go once you assemble the toppings that I am suggesting for each specialty pizza. Put the toppings on the pizza shell/crust in the order shown for each pizza. As it pertains to vegetables used as a topping, you already know that I am a fan of cooking or sautéing vegetables to develop the flavor (and in most instances to reduce the amount of moisture that might end up on the finished pizza). 

 Pizza Campagnola: tomato sauce, fi or di latte mozzarella, sautéd wild mushrooms, smoked mozzarella, fresh oregano

Pizza Primavera: tomato sauce, fi or di latte mozzarella, sautéd mushrooms, cherry tomatoes (halved), kalamata olives, chiffonade of fresh basil, extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)

 Pizza Diavolo: Tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, crushed red pepper fl akes, coarsely chopped spicy salami

 Pizza alla Arugula: thin slices of provolone, shaved Pecorino cheese, shaved prosciutto, arugula (the arugula and prosciutto are added after the pizza comes out of the oven). Drizzle of EVOO over the arugula and prosciutto

 Ham & Cheese Pizza: half and half combination of shredded mozzarella and provolone, generous amount of shaved ham, another layer of mozzarella and provolone

 Pizza Provencale: crushed plum tomatoes, herbes de Provence, pesto sauce, shredded Asiago or fontina cheese

 Pizza Mexicana: ground turkey sautéd with cumin, onion and jalapeño, thick and chunky medium (heat) salsa, black beans, 50/50 combo shredded Monterey Jack and cheddar, cilantro garnish

 Beans & Greens Pizza: escarole (or baby spinach) sautéd in olive and garlic with cannellini beans, crushed red pepper flakes, shredded mozzarella

 White Clam Pizza: Garlic oil, thyme, chopped clams, clam juice, crushed red pepper flakes, grated Parmesan

 Pizza al Funghi: crushed plum tomatoes, roasted Portobello, mushrooms, oregano, grated Parmesan, shredded mozzarella/provolone

Pancetta and Potato Pizza

Essentially, this is known as a white pizza (no tomato sauce). White pizzas are growing in popularity, and they offer a pleasing change from a tomato-based pizza.

Yield: one 14-inch pizza (scale up in direct proportion)

1⁄4 pound lean pancetta or (see chef’s note) chopped

2 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil

1 large redskin potato (about 3⁄4 pound), peeled and sliced almost paper-thin

1⁄3 cup chopped scallion, white part only

2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons (or to taste) crushed red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

In a sauté pan set over medium heat, cook the pancetta until it renders most of its fat and starts to get crispy. Reserve in the pan. Brush the crust with the garlic oil. Arrange the potatoes over the crust up to the border in one layer (overlapping them if necessary). Sprinkle the scallions over the potatoes. Sprinkle on the rosemary, thyme and red pepper flakes.

Pour the reserved pancetta, including the fat in the pan, evenly over the pizza. Sprinkle on the Parmesan. Bake. Chef’s note: you can replace the pancetta with Genoa salami or soppressata (spicy smoked pork sausage). If you use either of these, there is no need to saute them first. Just coarsely chop either one and scatter the pieces over the pizza before baking. 

Pat Bruno is Pizza Today’s resident chef and a regular contributor. He is the former owner and operator of a prominent Italian cooking school in Chicago and is a food critic for the Chicago Sun-Times.