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Sunday, January 23, 2011

And...I'm back! (a.k.a Argentinian Pizza memories: four cheese and prosciutto)

I know, I know. It's been a while. You probably thought I'd forgotten all about this little venture I've undertaken. Truth be told, I've just needed a bit of a break from...well pretty much everything. This past fall semester at NYU had been tough, and I decided to spend the whole month of winter break in Chicago, resting and writing. (More resting happened than writing, but oh well.)

But I'm back now, and ready to sink my teeth into this new feature I'm writing, as well as some delicious pizza. For those who aren't aware, my sister and I backpacked through Argentina this past summer, and encountered some of the most delicious pizza either of us had ever had. The two that stuck with us the most were prosciutto with fresh mozzarella and arugula, and four cheese with a red wine reduction sauce. 

There's no other way to put it: these pizzas are fantastic. REALLY fantastic. I especially loved the red wine reduction idea. It's simply a normal wine reduction squirted onto the pizza as soon as it's come out of the oven. I've always loved wine reductions, and with the four cheese it works phenomenally. Don't forget to use a pretty kick ass wine for the reduction, as the flavor is really going to stand out. It also works great with a spicy italian sausage pizza with arugula (kind of a mix between the two here).

Really, these are two pretty simple pizzas. And I'll be honest with you from the get go: I did not make this dough. You'll notice a pattern after a while: I love being lazy. If there's an easy route, I'm generally on it. We used Trader Joe's pizza dough, and I personally love it. Plus a pre-made dough makes this a great weekday meal. We really enjoyed it with a bottle of cabernet sauvignon that Ajooni and I smuggled back from Argentina. Mmm...shoot, now I'm craving a glass of that wine right now...and a slice of that pizza. (Oh who am I kidding, I'm craving at least 4 slices of that pizza.)

Argentinian Pizza!
Note: These pizzas were extremely freestyle, so while I do offer measurements here, they are approximations as I don't really measure amounts. It's really however much I think needs to be added. Go ahead and change amounts according to your taste.

Another Note: We made one pizza on a pizza stone, and the other on a baking tray. Since not all kitchens come with a pizza stone, for the purposes of these recipes I explain how to prepare both on baking trays.

Four cheese with Red Wine Reduction

For the pizza:
1 pouch Trader Joe's pizza dough (or any pizza dough you prefer, about 14 to 16 oz)
1.5 Sliced Fresh Mozzarella
1/3 cup Crumbled Gorgonzola
1/3 cup Grated Parmigiano Reggiano
1/3 cup Sliced/Grated Manchego
Salt and Pepper
Olive Oil

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Take the dough out of the package and toss a bit of flour onto it, molding it into a ball. Let sit for about 20 minutes so it can rise.

While the dough is rising, take a cookie sheet and generously rub olive oil over the surface. When the dough has sat for long enough, set it onto a well floured surface and roll out to about 1/4 inch thickness, into the shape of a long oval. To be honest, I suck a little bit at rolling out pizza dough, so when I transfer the dough to the tray, I generally have to coax it into a rectangular shape with my fingers.

Brush a nice amount of olive oil onto the surface. Add the sliced mozzarella, first, then the other three cheeses. Pull the thyme leaves off the stalk and sprinkle onto the surface. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Toss into the oven for about 25 minutes, until the edges of the crust are golden brown, and the cheese is bubbly. As soon as you take your glorious pizza out of the oven, squirt on the red wine reduction sauce.

For the reduction:
Bottle o' Great Red Wine (I'm a cab fan, but a bordeaux would be good too)
Cinnamon Stick
2-3 Bay Leaves
1-1.5 tbsp Peppercorns
4-5 Cloves
1 Stalk Thyme (don't worry about taking the leaves off the stem)
1 tsp Salt
1/2 cup Chicken Broth
2-3 tbsp Butter
2-3 Minced Shallots (or about 1/4 cup minced red onions)

Take half a tablespoon of the butter and melt that into a sauce pot. Toss the minced shallots in and let those soften a bit. Add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, cloves, thyme, and peppercorns. Let the spices heat up a bit, till you almost faint at how amazing the smell is coming out of that pot.

When the onions have gotten a bit brown, add the wine and stock. Let the sauce reduce till only about a third is left. Constantly taste to see if the flavor is where you want it. You might realize you love the taste and thickness when the sauce has reduced to half instead.  

When the sauce is done reducing take out the cinnamon stick, peppercorns, cloves and thyme stem. Add the rest of the butter in pieces, stirring so every addition is completely mixed in. You should have a velvety sauce at the end that you can put into a squeeze bottle and squeeze onto your pizza. Or right into your mouth.

Prosciutto and Arugula Pizza

15 oz Pizza Dough
6-7 Slices of Prosciutto
1.5 cups Sliced Mozzarella
1 cup Grated Manchego
6-7 Chopped Garlic Cloves
3 Tbsp Tarragon
2-3 Sprigs of Thyme
2-3 Cups Arugula
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Take the dough out of its package, let it rest 20 minutes. Oil a baking tray. Place rested dough onto a floured surface and roll out to 1/4" and into a long oval. Place onto the tray and push into a rectangular shape.

Brush olive oil onto the dough. Add the slices of mozzarella. Rip the prosciutto into chunks and spread across the dough. Add the manchego, as well as the garlic. Pull the thyme leaves off the stems and scatter across the pizza. Sprinkle tarragon as well, and salt and pepper to taste.

Pop in oven for about 25 to 30 min till crust is golden brown and cheese is bubbly. As soon as it comes out of the oven, place the arugula on. Personally, I generally need to add another cup of arugula to my pieces of pizza alone, but that's because I'm an arugula addict. 

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