A Pizza Story

Pizza is just one of those foods that will always make me feel like a kid again, no matter how fancy I try to get with it. There’s just something special about eating without utensils (yes, I will always eat pizza with my hands) that just makes it more fun.

When my husband and I first got together, we would always argue about what made a good pizza. He grew up in New York and loved the typical New York style pizza – thin (often charred) crust and, what I considered to be, sparse mozzarella cheese. I grew up in Massachusetts and was accustomed to a thicker, lightly baked corn-meal crust with gobs of ooey, gooey mozzarella cheese that made a pizza slicer a requirement and often involved wrapping the cheese around your fingers to separate once slice from the next. I ate it straight out of the box. We did both agree, though, that on both types of pizza there was always way too much outer crust.

What I like in a pizza these days differs quite a bit from what I liked back then. I still like a gooey cheese, but not gobs of it, and it’s got to be fresh mozzarella, not the shredded stuff. I’d prefer a thin crust and I don’t even mind a little bit of char. Just a little bit, though. I also like to add things to my pizza after it cooks – good olive oil, sea salt, red pepper flakes, etc. (I’ll no longer eat pizza straight out of the box!) We both still agree that the less outer crust the better and we both agree that a grilled pizza is best! It just adds a nice, crunchy, crispy texture that you just can’t get from the oven. Grilling pizza is really easy to do, and doesn’t everything taste better on the grill (almost)?

Over the weekend, since the weather was finally looking like summer, we decided to fire up the grill and make a couple of pizzas. We usually make 2… we like variety. This time we made a sopressata, garlic and oregano pizza with a red sauce and a prosciutto, fig and arugula white pizza.

Sopressata is basically a dry Italian salami. You can usually get it at a regular grocery store (either in a log form or in slices). You will also likely find it at your local meat or butcher shop.

Prosciutto is a dry-cured ham that is thinly sliced and quite delicate. There’s no need to cook it as it has cooked during the curing process, but we did cook it Ithis time. Cooking it just pumps up the flavor volume a little bit, adding a nice salty savory-ness.

For the figs, while fresh is best, dry figs are also quite delicious on a pizza and since it is what I had on hand, it’s what I used! A fig spread is also very good, especially if you aren’t used to a white, no sauce pizza as it adds a bit of the texture you might expect from a sauced pizza.

Since it was one of our “easy night” dinners, we opted for a store bought crust (Pillsbury Pizza Crust). We used one pizza crust and simply cut it in half to make 2 pizzas. Now, every time I do this my husband (the grill-master) panics thinking that each pizza will be much too small. But, every time we finish eating, he’s always full. However, if it sounds like it’s not enough for you, feel free to double up or have a side salad (which is something we also do).

The topping measurements listed below are the amount of toppings we like on our pizza. Feel free to add more or use less. Whatever works for you!

Sopressata, Garlic and Oregano Pizza

½ of a store bought pizza dough

½ cup of San Marzano crushed tomatoes (you can use whatever pizza sauce you like, but we love the texture and flavor these crushed tomatoes add to the pizza)

4-6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

1 large garlic clove, very thinly sliced (this doesn’t cook for very long so you don’t want large, raw garlic chunks on your pizza!)

Sopressata, thinly sliced

2 teaspoons of fresh oregano

Good olive oil

Sea salt

1.  Get the grill very hot (over 450 degrees, if possible).

2.  Roll pizza dough out to no thinner than ¼ inch thick (you want to keep it thick enough so that it doesn’t tear on the grill rack). It doesn’t have to be a perfect circle, or even a circle at all, as you can see!

3.  Spray grill rack generously with a spray oil and make sure the grill racks are clean. Cook dough for one minute, rotate ¼ of a turn for another minute then flip the dough and cook for one minute. You want to have nice, light grill marks on the first side before taking it off of the grill to add the toppings to that side. (The side that was grilled for a shorter amount of time should be the side that goes back onto the grill racks for the final cooking stage.)

pizza 1

4.  Using a small ladle, ladle enough sauce on one crust to your liking. We like to ladle it right out to the edge of the pizza, allowing for hardly any bare crust. Next, add the cheese, garlic slices, sopressata, and oregano. Put pizza back on the grill, toppings side up, for 8-10 minutes (sometimes my husband starts it on tinfoil for a few minutes to avoid charring the crust too much). Don’t laugh, but when I once told someone that I enjoyed grilling pizza they asked how I kept the toppings on top of the pizza when I flipped it. Please don’t flip your pizza here. Toppings side up only! 🙂 You’ll know it is done when the crust is crisp and a little charred and the cheese has melted.

5.  Finish pizza off with a drizzle of good, finishing olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. Yum!!

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Prosciutto, Fig and Arugula Pizza

½ of a store bought pizza dough

1-2 tablespoons of olive oil

4-6 oz fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced

Figs, thinly sliced

Prosciutto

1 cup of arugula

Sea salt

Follow steps 1 and 3 above.

Brush pizza crust generously with olive oil.  Add the cheese, figs and prosciutto.  Put pizza back on the grill, toppings side up, for 8-10 minutes (again, sometimes my husband starts it on tinfoil for a few minutes to avoid charring the crust too much). The crust should be crisp and a little charred and the cheese should be melted.

Finish pizza by adding arugula over the top and a light sprinkling of sea salt.

Slice and enjoy!

Arugula

What’s your favorite style of pizza? Do you like a thin crust? Thick crust? What are your favorite toppings?

 

Cranberry-sauced Pork Chops it is!

It’s apparently still winter here in New England so… Cranberry-Sauced Pork Chops it is!

One of my favorite recipes from my mom is her cranberry-sauced pork chops. It’s probably more of a fall comfort meal but, given that another snow storm was brewing (it IS nearing the end of March, isn’t it??), I thought it might be nice to bring a little comfort home last night. Since there were only 2 of us, I only made 2 chops but I didn’t cut the amount of sauce because I love sauce!

In a pinch, I’ve also used orange juice in place of the apple cider and it works just fine. I’ve also used boneless chops in the past but I like the tenderness of the bone-in better.

Cranberry-Sauced Pork Chops

6 pork loin rib chops, cut ¾ inch thick
1 T butter
½ C apple cider or apple juice
1 C (1/2 of a 16 oz. can) whole cranberry sauce
2 t cornstarch
1 t brown sugar
½ t finely shredded orange peel
Salt and pepper to taste

Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper. In skillet over medium-high heat cook chops in hot butter for 3-4 minutes or until brown, turning once.

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Drain fat and then pour the apple cider over the chops. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5-6 minutes or until pork juices run clear.

Transfer chops to a platter and keep warm.

Reserve ½ C of the juice in the skillet.

For the sauce: stir together the cranberry sauce, cornstarch, brown sugar and orange peel. Stir mixture into reserved juices in the skillet. Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more.

To serve: Pour sauce over chops!

(While I do actually enjoy making my own risotto, because it was a weeknight, I cheated a little with a store-bought version of butternut squash risotto. I did change it up slightly by using chicken stock (it called for water), and sautéing shallots and a little mushrooms to go in it. Finally, I topped with a bit of freshly grated parmesan and a little bit of pepper.)

This guy was chomping at the bit to try it. Hope you are, too. 🙂

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