Thursday, August 30, 2012
PEACH, PROSCIUTTO, AND BASIL PIZZA
And with this, my “Put a Fruit on It” experiments have reached their zenith. I saw the base recipe at Two Peas and Their Pod and immediately wanted to try it. Then, at the end of that post, in the automatically generated “you might also like:” section, I spotted a link to a nectarine and prosciutto pizza over at A Cozy Kitchen. I knew that prosciutto and melon are frequently combined, and I was willing to bet that prosciutto and peach wouldn’t be a bad pairing at all. I thought the prosciutto might help keep the pizza firmly grounded in savory territory, balancing out the sweetness of the peaches and the balsamic reduction. (As you’ll recall, although I liked the strawberry pizza, it did seem just a bit desserty.
The Cozy Kitchen recipe applied the prosciutto after baking (along with some raw arugula, which I’m sure was quite lovely and kind of makes me want to devise an arugula, prosciutto, and nectarine salad—yeah, like this, maybe), but I decided to cook mine on the pizza itself, and I was glad I did. Placed between the cheese and the peaches, the cooked prosciutto added just the right touch of salty, greasy, porky chewiness to the otherwise soft and sweet toppings. Instead I left the basil uncooked—I hate the way it gets all browned and crispy and loses its fresh grassy greenness otherwise.
A word of warning about the balsamic reduction: It’s apt to drip off the pizza when you apply it or during baking, and when it gets on the pan, it burns like nobody’s business. It didn’t smoke up my oven, although that seems to have happened to at least one commenter. But it did transform into a charred-caramel substance that was nearly impossible to chip off the pan. I made two smaller pizzas, baked in my cast-iron skillet and my enameled cast-iron pan, and I eventually managed to scrub the blackened goo off the enamel with many tears and much elbow grease, but my regular cast iron still bears a few scarred spots a month later. I’m afraid that if it happens again, I might ruin that skillet for life. However, I refuse to stop making this pizza, because it is one of the most stellar pizzas I’ve ever made. I know I say this a lot, but it just tastes like summer, and it’s the balsamic reduction that really makes it special. So my options are to either start making this on a really old baking sheet I’m willing to sacrifice to the burnt-vinegar gods, or to drizzle on the reduction after the pizza has baked. Right now I’m leaning toward the latter choice, because I’d like to believe it won’t make too much difference. The baking does help the vinegar really soak into the peaches, but it’s so flavorful to begin with that I doubt its power will be much diminished. After I try it, I’ll let you know.
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1–2 tablespoons olive oil
8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
4 ounces sliced prosciutto, torn into pieces
2 to 4 peaches, thinly sliced
½ cup freshly chopped basil
1. To make the balsamic reduction, pour balsamic vinegar into a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the vinegar has reduced to ¼ cup. Set aside, and cool to room temperature.
2. To make the pizza, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Roll out the dough on a baking surface coated with cornmeal or olive oil.
3. Lightly brush the dough with olive oil. Top the dough with fresh mozzarella rounds, torn prosciutto, and peach slices. Drizzle the pizza with balsamic reduction (or wait to add the reduction until after baking; see note above).
4. Place the pizza in the oven and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until pizza crust is golden and cheese is melted. Remove from oven and sprinkle with chopped basil (and drizzle with the balsamic reduction if you didn’t add it earlier).
5. Let the pizza cool for a few minutes and then cut into slices and serve warm.
Time: 45 minutes
Leftover potential: Good.