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pizza, italian style

April 06 2009 by Kristin at The Kitchen Sink in Pizza,Recipe » 39 comments

pizza

During our final year of college, Kevin and I both had some flexibility in our classloads and, that spring, we slipped off to Europe for three weeks, where we traced a path from Madrid to Rome, hugging the Mediterranean for much of the trip.  Looking back, I am awestruck by three things: (1) just how incredibly lucky we were to do this; (2) the fact that it was six (!) years ago; and (3) the sheer number of pizzas we ate in Italy.  I suppose I should also be shocked by the amount of gelato we consumed (sometimes, I’m not proud to admit, we ate it twice a day), but given my longstanding affection for all things frozen and creamy, the gelato consumption was something of a foregone conclusion.

pizza21

The pizza, though, took me by surprise.  I’d had good pizza—great, even—before that trip, but never the kind of pizzas I grew to adore in Italy.   Those pizzas were broad and often misshapen, sauce barely painted on, splotched with wafer-thin rounds of fresh mozzarella.  And the crust.  Oh, the crust.  Baked quickly in intensely hot ovens, the crust had chew and char and crisp and character.

pizza3

I fell unabashedly in love with that pizza.  I wrote home about it on the back of postcards.  I feverishly flipped through our dog-eared copy of Let’s Go in search of the next one.  I think I might have dreamed about it.  And when we got back to Evanston, I missed it so.  While my college town featured a deep dish joint on nearly every block, Italian-style pizza was much harder to come by.  And while Chicago has a couple places we love these days, it’s still a rare treat.  So, slowly and painfully, I’ve learned to make it at home.

pizza4

There has been a lot of trial and error (mostly delicious, but still) to get to the type of pies you see in this post.  Along the way, I’ve learned a few things and here they are:

(1)  Keep homemade dough on hand, in the freezer.  Just do it.  Trust me, you’ll thank me later.
(2) Keep homemade sauce on hand too.  I just whiz a large can of San Marzano tomatoes in the food processor, before adding kosher salt and sugar to taste.
(3) Buy excellent mozzarella.
(4) Invest in a pizza stone.
(5) Don’t be afraid to turn your oven to its very hottest temperature.
(6) Listen to the dough.  If it doesn’t want to stretch out into a nearly transparent round, give it a timeout.  It will come around—it just needs some time.
(7) Dress the pizza on parchment paper.  You’ll be able to transfer the whole thing right to the pizza stone, parchment paper and all.  Who needs a silly peel?
(8) Check your meat-lovers or garbage pizza tendencies at the door.  Less is more, when it comes to toppings (and that includes sauce—imagine you’re painting on a thin coat with a brush).
(9) Bake until the dough is kissed with a hint of char and the cheese has just gone golden.  This entails allowing the pizza to bake for five minutes or so and after that, you’ll have to watch it like a hawk, peeking in every minute.

pizzalast

Here, I’ve used these tips to create a pizza lined with pink wisps of prosciutto and piled high with delicate, peppery arugula.  It’s my favorite.

Prosciutto-Arugula Pizza

Makes 1 10-inch pizza

1/4 pound of pizza dough (I use the dough recipe in this wonderful post)
2 tablespoons or so of tomato sauce (see #2, above)
6 to 8 thin slices of buffalo mozzarella
3 thin slices of prosciutto
2 large handfuls of baby arugula
excellent olive, for drizzling
flaky sea salt, for finishing

Place pizza stone on the bottom of the oven and preheat it to 500 degrees, or as hot as your oven gets.

On a lightly floured surface and with lightly floured hands, gently stretch the dough until it is almost so thin you can see through it.  Try to keep an even thickness throughout, though a perfectly round shape isn’t so important.

Place the stretched dough a piece of parchment slightly larger than the dough round (you will eventually use the parchment as a type of tray to transport the pizza, so leave yourself adequate “handles” to carry the parchment for this purpose).  Spread a very thin layer of the sauce on the dough.  Top with the cheese slices and prosciutto.

Wearing oven mitts, transfer the pizza, on the parchment paper, onto the preheated pizza stone (keeping the parchment between the pizza and the stone).  Bake for five minutes, then check the pizza once a minute until the dough is slightly charred in spots and the cheese is golden.  Wearing oven mitts, lift the pizza on the parchment off the stone and onto a board.  Slide the parchment out from under the pizza and discard it.

Pile the pizza with the arugula.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired.

Remove

39 comments so far. »
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  1. Shannalee says on April 06 2009 at 6:56 pm:

    I hope one of the places you love in Chicago these days is Spacca Napoli in Ravenswood – best Neapolitan-style anywhere, with the most wonderful chewy, smoky crust. If you haven’t gone, go.

  2. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on April 06 2009 at 7:20 pm:

    Shannalee: It is, it is! It’s wonderful, isn’t it? Coal Fire is really excellent too.

  3. Ellen says on April 06 2009 at 8:00 pm:

    i’m studying abroad in the fall in rome for a program that is centered around (of all things!) the culture and politics of FOOD. is it bad that i’ve already been eating pizza and gelato in preparation? ha. this looks fabulous, though. just might have to give it a try!

  4. Amy says on April 06 2009 at 8:15 pm:

    Oh my goodness…Kristin, I just posted one of *my* favorite pizzas, which has prosciutto & arugula (along with figs and goat cheese), then went on over to my Google Reader and saw this new post of yours: you and I are on the same wavelength! :) I dream of going to Italy and eating pizza every day…what a great memory that must be for you and Kevin!

  5. Flavia says on April 06 2009 at 8:43 pm:

    Hi Kristen, My family is from Rome and I was so proud to see this post! You have done an excellent job of reproducing one of Italy’s finest foods! Bravissima!

  6. Half Assed Kitchen says on April 06 2009 at 8:50 pm:

    And the cappucinos in Italy. Yum! This pizza looks fantastic.

  7. Treehouse Chef says on April 06 2009 at 9:18 pm:

    This looks delicious and healthy too!

  8. Arundathi says on April 06 2009 at 10:43 pm:

    Love the comment about the silly peel. What a great idea with the parchment paper – thanks!

  9. Christina says on April 06 2009 at 11:23 pm:

    I studied art history in Rome for a summer and came to love the smoky crisp pizze at Da Baffetto, Via del Governo Vecchio, 114. My favorites had a raw egg cracked on top. The service is a little gruff unless you make a legit effort to speak Italian. I went back on holiday a couple years later with my mom and she doesn’t speak a lick of Italian and they tried to seat us by the oven. Bastardi!

  10. Jen Schall @ My Kitchen Addiction says on April 07 2009 at 6:41 am:

    This pizza looks divine! I would love to go to Italy some day. I recently took Michele Topor’s Italian Market Tour in Boston… and it just made me want to go to Italy even more! Thanks for the wonderful recipe and great tips!

  11. Iowa Girl Eats says on April 07 2009 at 7:39 am:

    Oh wow! 3 weeks in Europe – you lucky duck! I have heard SO many wonderful things about Italian pizza – REAL Italian pizza – that it will most definitely be the first thing I eat when I step off the plane…when I make it to Italy :)

  12. Sarah says on April 07 2009 at 7:54 am:

    I found your blog about a week ago and was instantly drawn to it because I am a law student that likes to cook.

    Over the past couple of days I have really enjoyed browsing through your beautiful photos and delicious-looking recipes. However, your tip about using parchment paper to transfer the pizza will stick with me forever.

    My husband was the resident pizza maker and was quite good at it, but he recently moved to MSP for a new job. (Before I join up with him after I finish law school.) Since he left I have been sorely missing both him and his pizzas.

    Each time I’ve tried to make pizza without himI I’ve had to turn them into calzones. I kept on ruining them during the transfer to and from the pizza stone.

    Thank you so much for this brilliant tip – I can’t wait to give it a try.

  13. Isaac says on April 07 2009 at 8:08 am:

    Two questions: Where are your favorite places to grab this type of pizza in Chicago? I used to live near Sapore di Napoli, on Belmont, and would frequent it. Good but the ovens weren’t hot enough, so rarely could you get that char. Frasca @ Lincoln & Roscoe does a decent pizza impression as well.

    Second, have you ever made this pizza on a grill?

  14. K says on April 07 2009 at 9:02 am:

    Sigh… looks fabulous! And, was helpful as well… I think I’ve been adding wayyyyy too much sauce! Also, pizza stone just decided to crack in half… do you have a good one you’d recommend?

  15. Phoo-D says on April 07 2009 at 9:20 am:

    We just had an insanely good pizza from A-16 in San Francisco and it looked very similar to this. I knew I would have to try and recreate it at home, thank you very much for the recipe and tips!

  16. Tabitha (From Single to Married) says on April 07 2009 at 9:25 am:

    mmm… what a treat! This looks fantastic. I’ve had pizza like this once and it was so good. Different, but really good.

  17. Jennifer says on April 07 2009 at 10:54 am:

    I love a good italian style pizza, unfortunately its hard around here to find a GOOD place that makes them!

  18. Domestic Executive says on April 07 2009 at 11:44 am:

    I’ve been a lurker on your site for a while but seeing your pizza recipe I am compelled to applaud you making your own pizzas. There is nothing better in the world, they are so simple to make and so much better than any shop bought or delivery pizza. Next time throw an egg on the top of this recipe for an additional surprise!

  19. Kelly says on April 07 2009 at 11:50 am:

    Oooooh. Swoon. This looks delicous!

  20. maris says on April 07 2009 at 2:17 pm:

    I love pizza and have been craving it for day, I think you finally convinced me to make some!

  21. Elizabeth says on April 07 2009 at 3:48 pm:

    I think you mastered it! Those are beautiful!! We have a place in Oakland Ca. That makes pizzas like the ones in Italy. They are misshapen and charred a bit, just like I remember eating in Italy. They have an oven that was designed by and Italian as well. Line is always out the door for that place. It is called Pizzaiolo. If you ever find yourself in these parts you must go there http://www.pizzaiolooakland.com

    Don’t be ashamed about the gelato…..I’m not a big ice cream eater, and I think when we were there we did the same thing. Love the suff!

  22. Melissa says on April 07 2009 at 4:07 pm:

    Beautiful!

    Just brushed on… see that’s exactly why I hate (most) American pizza. They slather on the sauce. Ugh.

    Thanks so much for the pizza tips. Perhaps your trial and error can help me do it sooner. I’m not very good with dough. :( But I really want to do it because homemade pizzas with simple ingredients like yours would make me so happy.

  23. Chocolate and Toast says on April 07 2009 at 5:16 pm:

    Okay, I LOVE the part where you say to keep the parchment between the pizza and the stone when putting the pizza in the oven. I had a immediate flash of vision of someone (me, likely) flipping their pizza upside down onto the stone, parchment on top and then thinking . . . hunh? It’s all in the details! Also, the oven mitts are key. I would be the person thinking I could grab that parchment barehanded, for sure.

  24. Marianne says on April 07 2009 at 9:25 pm:

    Beautiful pizza. I’m with you on the less is more, especially when it comes to sauce. I despise pizzas that are oozing with sauce. I want to be able to taste all the lovely toppings!

  25. MsGourmet says on April 07 2009 at 10:53 pm:

    We share a love for the same topping – a bit of red, white & green. The only difference is that I don’t cook the prosciutto :)

  26. Whitney Merritt says on April 08 2009 at 8:10 am:

    I LOVE the keep dough in the freezer, which reminds me that I need to make a new batch.

    I use the parchment paper and just a cooke sheet without sides as a peel. Works great. My pizza stone was the best 20 bucks I spend last fall.

  27. Carolina says on April 08 2009 at 8:14 am:

    What a wonderful post with instruction and character. I love these pizzas. I almost bought me a pizza stone the other day. I need to revisit that idea. I hear great things about them.
    Great post.

  28. Sarah says on April 08 2009 at 10:48 am:

    I love good pizza, but reading your post makes me think that I probably have not had truly good pizza! Ah! I want to go to Italy. I look forward to re-creating what you’ve made… it looks so delicious.

  29. Kristin at The Kitchen Sink says on April 08 2009 at 12:31 pm:

    Thanks, everyone!

    Sarah: Thanks for the note! Once you join your husband in MSP, check out Punch Pizza. I hear great things about it. In the meantime, try the parchment!

    Isaac: I like both the places you mentioned, but don’t visit them very often now that I’ve moved from Lakeview to Bucktown. These days, I am loving Spacca Napoli and Coal Fire. I’ve had some good pizzas at Crust too. For delivery, I like Piece. As for the grill, no haven’t tried this exact recipe on the grill. But I have tried other pizza recipes with success (you’ll find them in the Recipe Index).

    K: I have a cheap-ish one from Crate and Barrel. Does the trick.

    Phoo-D: A-16 is on my list for a trip to San Francisco this summer!

    Chocolate & Toast: Ha!

    MsGourmet: I didn’t used to, but I love the texture (slightly crisped, yet still buttery) it takes on in the oven.

  30. Lucy says on April 08 2009 at 3:04 pm:

    This salad-type pizza looks amazing. I cannot wait to give it a try. I can never get pizza dough to spread out. It always bounces back. Got any tips?

  31. Jada says on April 08 2009 at 6:10 pm:

    Wow! This is a pizza that I could fall madly and deeply and cheesily in love with. After having to succumb to airport pizza this past weekend, I think I’ll be using this recipe as my make-up pizza.

  32. Nadya says on April 09 2009 at 10:48 pm:

    Oh, what lovely ideas!!
    I used to make pizza occ – haven’t for quite awhile. I love pesto for the sauce (& that light touch sounds perfect!) & also sun dried tomatoes – I did a bunch in my food dehydrator & sprinkled with basil (ah, basil!! I have some just sprouting on my windowsill :) & my dau found a stone for me at Grocery Outlet, so I’m set, lol!!
    My son-in law LOVES arugula – he will kiss your feet for this recipe1

  33. Nadya says on April 14 2009 at 12:03 am:

    Mmm – haven’t tried the pizza yet – but did make some fresh NETTLE pesto, & am imagining how good that would be!! If I don’t gobble it all up first (but I have acces to a great patch of nettles, so can make more!)

  34. Nikki says on April 26 2009 at 1:08 am:

    Love your blog and style of cooking. I look forward to future visits. Lately, I can’t seem to eat pizza without raw arugula on top. I can’t wait to try it with the prosciutto and fresh mozzarella.

  35. Sarah says on May 11 2009 at 3:49 pm:

    Made this pizza last night… the simple flavors definitely created one of the best bites I’ve ever had! I loveloveloved the crust, the simple sauce, the prosciutto, the greens on top. Amazing. Thanks for sharing your secrets!

  36. pizza, italian style « Michael Lynton says on May 11 2010 at 9:40 am:

    [...] pizza, italian style by Michael Lynton on May 11, 2009 via thekitchensinkrecipes.com [...]

  37. thin, chewy pizza crust | Food Loves Writing says on September 27 2010 at 9:01 am:

    [...] idea came from a post at The Kitchen Sink Recipes, which I’d read last April (!) and not forgotten about, and Kristin draws her crust from The Fresh Loaf, where the instructions [...]

  38. molly says on September 29 2010 at 8:36 pm:

    Just backtracked to this from Food Loves Writing, and have to laugh, as we’ve gone through the identical R&D. And arrived at exactly the same spot (well, plus a peel. Love love love my $2 thrift shop peel.) Parchment, preheating, screaming heat, pizza stone… so easy, soooo good.

    But the best part? I mis-read the title as “Prosciutto Angel Pizza”, which sounded about right for the perfection on display. I got it on the second read, but prefer the first, anyway.

    Thanks for the summary. So nicely pulled together.

  39. September’s Pinterest-ing Meals – Week Two | says on September 16 2012 at 4:47 pm:

    [...] Sausage & Arugula Pizza with Homemade Dough adapted from TheKitchenSinkRecipes [...]

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