Thursday, April 15, 2010

Muffuletta Pizza

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A New Orleans' staple, the muffuletta is truly a regional delight. My first encounter was here in Memphis, and I have been hooked since. I wandered around the Web and found a few variations, but the constant is the olive salad. I found a great olive salad in a jar at Costco and have been buying it for a few years, but on a recent trip to St. Pete Beach, I found a new favorite.
They set up a local Farmer's Market every week on Corey Avenue and showcase the gorgeous local produce and some delicious local products. I sampled delicious marinara, ribs, hot off the smoker, candied nuts and this olive salad. Italian Olive Salad, with love from Jay's Market Place.

There is no doubt that this is the ingredient that makes a sandwich "muffuletta-like". We pile it on turkey and ham sandwiches with abandon. So as we rolled out pizzas last weekend, I thought, "Hmmmm, muffuletta pizza..." It was a delicious revelation. After all, a muffuletta is inherently Italian, specifically Sicilian. A perfect match for a pizza. Now as you surf the internet, you'll see dozens of variations of muffuletta recipes. As I said, the olive salad is the one constant and makes just about anything a muffuletta. The ingredients in Jay's read olives, celery, cauliflower, carrots, sweet peppers, onions, capers, parsley, pepperoncini, olive oil, vinegar, salt, garlic and spices. Sounds like exactly the way I would make it. Some of the olives are still whole, some roughly chopped, so you get a little extra olive kick once in a while. This stuff is delicious on anything.

I make my crust from the Williams Sonoma Florence Cookbook. Fairly straight up flour, yeast, olive oil, water. I like Alton's recipe if you plan ahead, but it needs a night in the fridge to rise, this recipe is the one I go to the day of. Again, I have to tell you don't skimp on ingredients. I use only SAF Baker's Yeast. I am lucky to find it at an Amish grocery, but It is available from "the King". I am a big fan of King Arthur Flour and their products. I also use half whole wheat flour in my pizza crust, it makes me feel a little better about the nutritional value. Pizza curst for me begs for a fruity, green olive oil as well. Also, don't skip the salt, it doesn't take much, but adds a lot to the flavor. I changed the recipe directions...just a little.

Pizza Crust
3 cups flour (I use half unbleached, half whole wheat)
1½ teaspoons SAF yeast
1 cup warm water (105°-115°F) (HOT water will kill yeast, err on the cooler side)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

In the bowl of Kitchen Aid mixer, add flour and yeast. With dough hook on low speed, add water and olive oil. Add more water or flour if necessary to get the right consistency. If you are using any other yeast, you should follow the yeast package directions. SAF doesn't need to dissolve, most every other yeast does. The dough should pull away from the sides of the bowl.
Knead the dough for about 5-7 minutes dusting with flour or water when necessary. Turn off mixer and cover dough with damp towel and let it rest for 5 minutes. Divide the dough into 4 smooth balls and place in well oiled bowl and cover with damp towel and let it rise for about 3 hours.
Lightly flour surface for rolling dough and roll out a ball at a time. Divide the balls for a more personal size pizza. Tossing the dough helps stretch the pizza, but be careful! Sprinkle you baking pan with flour or cornmeal and place the disk on it. Top and bake at 500° for less than 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it!

Muffuletta Pizza
Layer as you please:
Pizza Sauce (optional, I opted out)
Jay's Olive Salad
Sliced Capilcola or other sliced Italian Ham
Sliced Prosciutto (the original calls for salami)
Sliced Red Pepper (just cuz I really like them)
Provolone Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese

Other options would be mortadella, salami, Emmentaler cheese

Buon Appetito!

And as I have said before, I am not using free products or endorsing anything for money. Some day, but not now....

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