Food Challenge: Chorizo, Blue Cheese & Rocket Pizza

Chorizo, Blue Cheese & Rocket Pizza

There are two ways to make this pizza. If you add the blue cheese for the entire cooking time, it will melt seamlessly into the other toppings. If you would prefer a pizza with a bit more texture, take it out of the oven when there are only a few minutes left to go and add the blue cheese then.

Makes 2 x 25cm pizzas

Ingredients
2 balls of pizza dough (see recipe below)
2 handfuls of rocket
2 tbsp olive oil
pinch of fine sea salt
160ml tomato sauce (see recipe below)
250g grated mozzarella
16 slices of dry-cured chorizo
100g crumbled blue cheese

Method
Preheat the oven to 250?C/gas mark 9 or as high as it will go. Place?a pizza stone or an upside-down baking tray in the oven to heat up too. Get all your ingredients and equipment ready, including taking the dough out of the fridge 1 hour before you're ready to cook.

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Place the rocket in a bowl. Drizzle with half of the oil and season with?a pinch of salt (you don't need any pepper, since the rocket is so peppery on its own). Toss to combine and coat all the leaves. This adds flavour and helps protect the greens from burning.

Stretch the pizza dough by hand or roll it out. Sprinkle a pinch of salt evenly over the dough, then brush a little olive oil onto the rim with a pastry brush to help it turn golden.

Using a ladle or big spoon, pour the tomato sauce in the centre of the dough. Spread it over the pizza in concentric circles with the back of the ladle or spoon, leaving a 2.5cm border clear around the edges for the crust. You only want a thin layer of sauce.

Place a big handful of the grated mozzarella in a mound in the middle of the dough. Use your palm to spread it out evenly across the pizzas, leaving the edges clear for the crust. Scatter the chorizo and crumbled blue cheese on top of the mozzarella (or if you would prefer a bit more texture, add the blue cheese later), aiming to get a good balance of ingredients across the pizza.

Check that there is no liquid on the peel or board or your pizza won't slide off. Shake the board gently to see if the pizza will move. If it doesn't, lift up the pizza with a dough cutter or spatula and sprinkle a little flour on the board until it does move easily.

Slide the pizza off the peel or board?onto the pizza stone or upside-down baking tray in the hot oven. Cook for 7-10 minutes, but start checking it after 5 minutes - you want the bottom and the crust to be cooked through and golden and the cheese should be melted.

Take the pizza out of the oven and scatter the rocket evenly across the?top. Return the pizza to the oven for only 30 seconds to 1 minute more, until the rocket has just started to wilt. Alternatively, skip this step to keep the rocket fresh and let it wilt only slightly in the residual heat of the pizza after it comes out of the oven. Remove from the oven again and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Slice after 1 minute standing.

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Classic Pizza Dough

The beauty of this pizza dough is that it's wonderfully stretchy - you can even toss?it in the air like a pizza-maker in Naples, which I do every now and then to impress?the kids. This is the recipe I use for all the pizzas in the pizzeria and all our frozen pizzas. I like to use half ?00? flour and half strong white flour, but you can use all of one or the other. Be warned, though, that if you use all ?00? flour you will probably need to add?a little extra, as otherwise it will be a very wet dough that might be hard to work with. I always make this dough at least 24 hours in advance of using it.

Makes enough for 2 x 25cm pizzas

Ingredients
200ml cold water
300g ?00? flour or strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
? x 7g sachet of fast action dried yeast
1 tsp fine sea salt

Method
Pour the water into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, then add the flour on top of the water and add the yeast and salt in separate piles. Mix for 10 minutes on a medium-low speed. For the first few minutes it will look shaggy and you might be worried that it won't come together, but leave it be and by the end of the 10 minutes the dough should be smooth, springy and slightly sticky. Check the dough after a couple of minutes, though, to see how it's coming along.

If it's really dry and isn't coming together, add another tablespoon of water. If it looks really wet, add another tablespoon of flour. Alternatively, if you don't have a mixer, you can knead the dough by hand.

Sprinkle your work surface with a little flour and tip the dough out onto it. Knead it by hand a few times to bring?it together into a smooth, round ball that holds its shape well and springs back when you poke it. If it doesn't pass those tests, knead it for 1-2 minutes more.

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Using a dough cutter or a sharp knife, cut the dough in half. Pressing it firmly into the work surface, roll each piece into a smooth round, like a tennis ball. Put the dough balls on two side plates or a baking tray dusted with flour. Cover tightly with clingfilm or soak a clean tea towel in cold running water from the tap and wring it out really well, then cover the dough with the damp cloth. Place the covered plates or tray in the fridge for?at least 6 hours, but ideally overnight or even up to 48 hours to let it have a long fermentation and a slow rise. The longer you let the dough sit in the fridge, the more flavour it will have.

Take the dough out of the fridge 1 hour before you want to cook the pizzas, making sure you keep it covered with the clingfilm or damp cloth so it doesn't'dry out. When you're ready to shape the dough, dust a pizza peel or a thin wooden chopping board generously with flour. You can either stretch the dough by hand or use a rolling pin. If you're using a rolling pin, dust that with flour too.

Take the rested dough ball off the plate or tray using?a dough cutter or a bowl scraper, making sure the dough ball stays round at this point. Place the dough ball onto the floured peel or board and dust some flour on top?of the dough too. Press down the middle of the dough with your fingers, but don't press the edge of the dough ball, as that will be the crust later. It should already look like a little pizza.

The dough is now ready to be stretched by hand or rolled out.

Tomato Sauce

This sauce is so versatile. Not only can you use it for pizzas, but it works well as a simple pasta sauce too and it can be frozen for up to six months. Freeze it in ice cube trays for handy portions - just pop the cubes out and store them in a food bag, then take out only what you need and let them thaw ahead of time. But if time is tight, you can make a perfectly good sauce simply by blending a can of good-quality whole plum tomatoes with some salt, sugar and freshly ground black pepper, which is what pizza-makers in Naples do.

Makes 800ml

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Ingredients
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
? carrot, finely chopped
1 tsp fine sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2x400g tins of good-quality whole plum tomatoes
1 tsp sugar (optional)

Method

Heat the olive oil in a saucepan set over a medium-low heat. Add the onion, celery and carrot and season with the salt and some freshly ground black pepper?to taste. Cover the pan and sweat the vegetables for 8-10 minutes, until soft but not coloured. Add the garlic and cook, uncovered, for just 1 minute, until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 3 minutes on a low heat. Good-quality tinned tomatoes don't need to be cooked for very long, plus the longer you cook the sauce, the more water evaporates and the thicker it becomes, which isn't the consistency that you want - pizza sauce should be thin but not watery.

Whizz the sauce with a handheld blender until smooth, or you could leave it a little chunkier if that's what you prefer. Taste and check for seasoning - add a teaspoon of sugar if the tomatoes are too bitter or acidic. The sauce is now ready to be used right away, or it will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to a week or it can be frozen for up to six months. This recipe makes enough sauce for five pizzas.

Extracted from Saturday Pizzas from the Ballymaloe Cookery School by Philip Dennhardt and Kristin Jensen (Ryland Peters & Small, approx €19.20). Photography by Mowie Kay - Ryland Peters & Small

 

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