Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Prosciutto and Caramelized Onion Pizza

One of the partners in Mrs. Hackknife's department periodically hosts gatherings at his home in the city. He and his wife always throw a lavish holiday party in December with plenty of goodies for noshing, and they also usually have guests over sometime during the warmer months for a cookout. It was at one of these summer soirees that we dined on a wonderful homemade pizza with caramelized onions that was grilled (!) rather than baked in the oven (I'd read a little about pizza on the grill, but had never actually eaten one before). Wanting to try this dish at the Commissary, I pressed the hostess for her recipe and she referred me to Healthy Living magazine, but I had trouble tracking it down and eventually forgot about it.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago - while monitoring my Twitter feed (as I frequently do) for food-related news, I noticed that Chef Marcus Samuelsson had posted about a prosciutto and caramelized onion pizza recipe on his website. Being curious, I linked over to check it out. It's not entirely clear to me if the recipe is credited to the author of the associated writeup (Emma Haberman) or the proprietor of the Brooklyn pizzeria that she references (Dom DeMarco of Di Fara), but, either way, the instructions appeared to be relatively simple. So, one night last week, I decided to give it a go. You may recall an earlier attempt of mine at homemade pizza dough (see May 2010). This latest recipe was a bit different in that you use a stand mixer to prep the dough (rather than bare hands) and bake it on a sheet pan instead of a superheated pizza stone (good thing, since my stone is barely functional after my last foray into the pizza arts). Oh, and you need a little more planning ahead time in this case because the raw dough must be refrigerated at least overnight - I assembled the dough ingredients on a Monday night in preparation for Tuesday dinner baking.

When the time came to prepare the pizza, I cooked some red onion slices coated with brown sugar (in order to better caramelize them) on the stove, rolled out the finished dough over a light dusting of yellow corn meal on the sheet pan (the recipe calls for covering the pan with olive oil, but I was a bit concerned about olive oil's low smoke point in a 500F oven) into a (very) rough approximation of a rectangle, and lightly brushed the dough with oil. I then topped it with the caramelized onions, thinly-sliced prosciutto, and fresh sliced buffalo mozzarella from local ethnic grocery (plus a little pepperoni on one end per Hackknife Jr.'s request), added a sprinkling of grated Parmesan, and baked it for about 15 minutes. When finished, a drizzle of olive oil and some basil leaves were added before slicing it up for consumption (see photo above). Although I felt that the crust could have used another minute or two of browning, the consensus from the progeny, Mrs. Hackknife, our part-time babysitter (whom I dispatched home with a slice), and me was that it was excellent, nearly the equal of the grilled version I remember having a while ago. The combination of the onions, prosciutto, olive oil, basil, and fresh mozzarella was amazingly rustic and flavorful, so much so that I didn't miss the tomato sauce (indeed, my Italian relatives out East frequently make a version of this sauce-less pie called "white" pizza), and the crust held up very well, even after 5 days in the fridge. I look forward to cooking up the other half of finished dough currently stashed in the freezer next time we get a hankering for good 'za...

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