Papesse has definitely developed a wonderful flavour, so I reckoned it was time to try my favourite pizza. It starts life as a simple margarita, draped with paper thin slices of dry-cured prosciutto crudo and scattered with a handful of rocket and shaving of Grana.
One of the reasons Italian food is superior, is that they don’t mess with the ingredients and use local produce prepared to exacting and traditional standards, especially if it is D.O.P. (as in Protected Designation of Origin). For example, prosciutto di Parma has to be aged for at least 13 months, taken from the rear leg, and the addition of any additive (i.e. sugar, nitrites) other than salt or freezing is prohibited. Add to this that the pigs must be raised locally and fed on cereal grains and leftover whey from production of Parmigiano Reggiano and you’ll start to understand why prosciutto di Parma tastes so much better than its counterfeit wannabes. If only we could say that about all ‘smoked’ or ‘cured’ products.
RECIPE: PIZZA CON PROSCIUTTO DI PARMA
Depends how hungry you are!
(We use a tin of peeled tomatoes and ball of mozzarella for two 12” thin pizzas)
A chunk of Papesse
For the tomato sauce
A slug of olive oil
1 tin peeled plum tomatoes
A crushed clove of garlic
A sprinkling of salt and a grinding of pepper
For the topping
A ball of mozzarella
3-4 slices of prosciutto de Parma
A handful of rocket
A couple of slivers of Parmesan
METHOD: Preheat your oven to its highest setting.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the crushed garlic for a couple of seconds before adding the tinned tomatoes. I always use peeled plum tomatoes and not chopped tomatoes as find there is more flesh making for a less watery consistency. It’s easy to mush them up with the back of a wooden spoon when cooking. Cook the tomatoes down over a medium heat (about ten minutes) until the water has evaporated and you are left with a thick sauce. I think tinned varieties have improved in quality as I always used to add a pinch of sugar to balance out the metallic taste, but no longer find this necessary so just season with salt and pepper. If you find your tinned tomatoes lacking in flavour, you can add a squeeze of tomato puree.
Dust the worktop with a little flour and flatten the ball of dough, knocking the air out of it with your fingertips. Stretch the pizza dough until it is as thin as possible mounding the dough up slightly around the edges. You can use a rolling pin to start it off, but stretching by hand really helps the texture.
Smear on the tomato sauce right up to the edges and scatter over the garlic and the thinly sliced mozzarella. Working quickly so the sauce does not soak into the dough, arrange the mozzarella over the base.
When topped to perfection, transfer to a pre-heated baking sheet (I assemble the pizza on a sheet of greaseproof paper as don’t have a paddle and more importantly, am clumsy) and cook for about 6-8 minutes until crisp and golden. You’ve got to watch them, as the timing depends on your oven and the thinness of your base.
Remove, and lay torn slices of Parma ham over the base and scatter over the rocket. Shave over some Parmesan and drizzle with a splash of chilli oil – cut into wedges and enjoy with a glass of vino.