Monday, June 19, 2006

Haute Pizza

We went to visit my in-laws yesterday. On the way home, I was feeling pretty hungry. I was ever so tempted to stop by Pizza Hut on the way home and pick up a pepperoni pizza. It's a weakness of mine. I don't know what they do to the pepperoni to make it all crispy, but I love it. But I couldn't bring myself to do it. I didn't want to spend the time, the money, etc. But I really wanted pepperoni pizza.

Now, I grew up on French bread pizza. Grab a big old loaf from the store, cut it in half or thirds, add some sauce and toppings, and toss in the oven. But we had no French bread. Normally in such a situation, I would improvise and just use regular sliced bread. Alas, we were out of that too. What to do? And then I realized: we had a bad of whole wheat ciabatta rolls in the freezer!

When we got home, we turned on the oven to 450F, pulled a couple of rolls out of the freezer and put them on the table to thaw while we prepped the rest of the ingredients. And of course, by ingredients, I mostly mean the cheese. We pulled a fresh new jar of organic pasta sauce out of the pantry, and my ever-present bag of pepperoni from the fridge. But when I looked at our cheese situation, there was a problem. My unopened bag of fresh mozarella wasn't looking so good, so I tossed it. We had cheddar, but I was looking for something a little more white.

Further reconnaissance yielded fontina and Lincolnshire poacher in FoodSaver bags, and a small wheel of smoked gouda. Perfect! I probably grated about equal parts of each one, just enough to cover four halved ciabatta rolls. Speaking of the rolls, they were just about thawed enough to cut in half. We halved 'em, sauced 'em, cheesed 'em, and pepperonied them. We put them on a sheet pan and put them in the oven, pausing to switch it over to broiler mode. That was my strategy, to get that pepperoni crispy.

In retrospect, I should have just left it in oven mode for long enough to melt the cheese, before setting it to broil. I pulled the pizzas when the corners were just starting to pick up a little char. Not enough to ruin it of course, just enough to add a little flavor. Much to my delight, some of the pepperonis actually picked up a little crisp! I should have added more pepperoni, though.

Halfway through the pizza, I realized that the only ingredient that may be considered a lower quality was the pepperoni. I had just created haute pizza! Well, okay, maybe not so much. But it really was pretty good.

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