Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pizza with cured ham and arugula

This weekend, I made our favorite piizza with cured ham and arugula, so I thought I share some photos here. This time I used a leftover dough from couple weeks ago. I will do another post with the steps to make the dough.

Pizza with cured ham and arugula
For the dough recipe, I used Pizza Neo-Neapolitan recipe from Peter Reinhart's American Pie book. This is a well known recipe which you can search on Internet. I made some minor adjustment for the toppings so it works better in the home oven.

Now, for topping:

- Fresh Mozzarella (drain the juice and pat dry)
- Cured ham, i.e. Prosciutto
- Arugula
- Marinara sauce (reduced)

Some trick for using fresh Mozzarella - it's very wet. Normally I will just use the dry/shred Mozzarella that comes in a bag found in grocery stores. If you just cut the fresh Mozzarella and put on your pizza, believe me it will come out very soggy because the temperature in home oven is not enough to evaporate all those moisture fast enough. In summary, I feel anything wet is the enemy of good pizza baked in home oven.

If you use store bought Marinara, reduce it about 30-40% until you get consistency of a thick sauce.

So, what I did was I just cut the Mozzarella into pieces, and put it on a plate over my oven while I preheat the oven at 550F. The residual heat from the oven will bring out all the juices. Now, you can pat it dry before you top it on your pizza.

Stretch the dough and then to top your pizza, start with the driest ingredients - cheese in this case, then meats, and then the wettest ingredients, marinara sauce. Why? because you want the bottom of the dough to be crispy, and having the dry ingredients as a base of your topping will act as barrier to give the dough time to crisp up before the sauce touches it. If you are like me who doesn't like a soggy pizza, this method will work well.

Many recipes tell you to start with the sauce first. Although it may work, and that's also how many pizzerias do it, remember your home oven can only go 550F vs 800F or more at pizzeria, so some adjustment is necessary because the moisture will not evaporate as fast in your home oven. This minor change will give you a very crispy pizza vs soggy one - your choice.

This time I only have cured beef so I used this instead of Prosciutto


I baked my pizza between two baking stone but I think it does not make much different really if you use one stone. Just put the stone close to the lowest rack and give it enough time to heat up (I pre-heat mine about 1 hour). The pizza should be ready in 6-7 minutes. About a minute before the pizza is done, take it out and top with arugula, and then put the pizza back in the oven and bake for a minute or until fully cook. The arugula will wilt a little bit.

Drizzle Olive Oil

I baked my pizza between two stones, although I found one stone at the bottom works just fine

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