Sicilian Style Pizza
Saturday, May 12, 2012
Philly is known for soft pretzels, Peanut Chews, and TastyKakes, but there’s also some decent pizza in the area. I used to love hitting Lorenzo’s on South Street after a show. All the really good pizza I’ve had in town has been of the thin crust variety, but my heart really belongs to sicilian style pizza with a thick crust. Not deep dish—that’s something different—but great, thick, yeasty crust. That kind of pizza is few and far between in Philadelphia, but you can make your own . . . almost entirely from locally grown ingredients.
My favorite crust recipe comes from Serious Eats. They have absolutely perfected a simple sicilian style crust. The secret is kind of weird but perfect for Philly area localvores—potatoes. We’ve always got lots of options for buying potatoes, it seems!
1 medium russet potato, about 7 ounces
15 ounces (3 cups) all-purpose flour
1/2 ounce (about 2 teaspoons) kosher salt
1/4 ounce (about 1 1/2 teaspoons) rapid-rise yeast
1/2 ounce (about 3 teaspoons) sugar
2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/3 cup warm water
Boil the potato until tender, then put it through a ricer; let cool. Combine remaining ingredients in a mixer with a paddle attachment; blend until the dough comes together, and then add the riced potato. Mix on medium-high speed for about six minutes.
Spread a thin layer of olive oil over a rectangular baking sheet (I use a typical cookie sheet). Dump the dough onto the oiled sheet. The original recipe calls for you to allow the dough to spread by itself over a period of two hours. I’m a little on the anxiety-ridden side, so I like to press the dough into the pan with my hands and then let it rise for a few hours.
From there you can use local tomato sauce or pesto as well as local cheese for toppings (Cherry Grove Farm does a decent locally made mozzarella, or you could go with some of the great locally made cheddar or goat cheese). And, of course, there are all sorts of locally grown vegetables in season right now: spring garlic, sorrel, asparagus, mustard greens, spinach, and herbs.
How do you finish the pizza after it’s topped? Bake at 500 degrees for thirteen or fourteen minutes. It should be noted that this dough would also make amazing breadsticks. Depending on how long you let it rise, my dough has turned out anywhere from an inch to two inches thick.