Saturday, 4 October 2014

Pan-Handler's Pizza

Pizza in Padella ai Funghi, Pancetta, Scamorza Affumicata & Timo
Frying-Pan Pizza with Mushrooms, Bacon, Smoked Scamorza Cheese & Thyme


Fresh mushrooms, fresh thyme... and a roll of pizza dough, fresh from the supermarket! Haha! Sometimes, as you know, I like to take the easy way out and make one of my quick, easy and always perfect frying-pan pizzas or pies- I am just an ordinary guy after all!

And let's face it... you don't bake a loaf of bread every time you want to make a sandwich, or get your pasta machine out every time you feel like a plate of spaghetti! Please! Food-snobs, get over yourselves and move on to the next blog! And all the rest of you good people- grab your frying pans and follow me!


Small- but perfectly formed! This does not only describe me (haha!), but mainly, my little pizza in the pan!

There is no way we can get the extreme heat in our domestic ovens that a stone-walled, wood-fed oven at a pizzaria has. Which also means that we can't get that same great, quick blast of heat that has our pizza baked through and crisp and our toppings frazzled and the cheese melted and delicious in under 10 minutes... or can we?


But before I remind you all of how easy it is to do just that, let me tell you what went onto my pizza this evening. I had 250g of fresh, brown mushrooms, 1/3 of a smoked Scamorza cheese, 1 onion, just a little chopped bacon, a good handful of fresh thyme and a roll of pre-made dough.


Ok, back to the frying pan and the heat. Before I start preparing anything, I turn on the oven to it's highest setting... everybody's oven is different- just turn it RIGHT UP. It needs to be HOT. No messing around! You won't get your pizza-maker changing any settings on his oven! Turn it to the setting that gives you maximum heat from above.

And now it probably makes sense to you why I use the frying pan- because by starting my pizza off on the stove top, I can give it a maximum of direct heat from below before it goes into the oven... it's just about as simple as all that! And... it works!


One thing you don't want to have with a mushroom pizza is soggy mushrooms... Soggy mushrooms = soggy pizza base = not good eating! So, do not wash them! Either brush them off or rub them clean with kitchen paper, or do what I do and peel them. This is really easy to do- just pinch at that outer-layer of skin at the bottom of the mushroom, between your thumb and a small knife and pull the skin away- very, very, easy!


Cut the mushrooms and the onion into slices and pop them into a hot non-stick frying pan with just a little finely chopped bacon. Season with plenty of pepper and a little salt and stir-fry with no added fat for 5 minutes or so, until the onion becomes translucent and the mushrooms become soft and begin to brown, then set to one side to cool, rinse out your frying pan and grate the Scamorza ready to go on top. Another thing you need to do is to pluck plenty of thyme from the stems to scatter on top of the pizza... do these 2 little tasks and in the meantime the mushrooms and the frying pan will be cooled off and ready to use again.


Cut your pizza base to size and lay it out onto your dry non-stick pan, then roll over the outer edges with your fingers, just to give it a bit more of a rustic look... you can still make it look handmade even if it isn't- haha!

Then spread out the mushrooms, bacon and onion nicely and evenly.


Next- it is time for thyme! And plenty of it- this is what is going to bring the flavor of the mushrooms and onion to life!


Cover with a generous sprinkle of grated cheese and then pop onto your stove top for 4-5 minutes at the highest setting, before you transfer it to the hot oven to finish.

If you pan has a plastic handle, like mine does, then simply cover it in aluminum foil to reflect the heat away- works like a charm!


And roughly 10 minutes later, your pizza will look like this and be begging you to take it out of the oven, over to a chopping board and to take a slice right out of it there and then!


I don't know about you good people- but to me that looks mighty fine!


Oh- and let me reassure you all... it tasted mighty fine too!

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