Thursday, July 1, 2010

Doing sacreligious things to pizza again...

So, one of the biggest differences I've noticed since moving south, eating-out wise, lies in the condiment category. Tabasco isn't really around - you're going to be eating Texas Pete's or Frank's (if yer lucky). Mustard is yellow and something you always have to request. Salt and pepper on every table, even in Vietnamese joints. And Ranch. On everything. And I mean everything.

Not that I mind, I love the stuff. You think dipping fries in Mayo us uber-delish? Ranch is so much more fun. Crappy pizza is greatly improved by a dunk in the ranchpool. And fried pickles...well...there's just nothing else that will do.

With that in mind, I made something nasty last night. The opposite of healthy. The eat-a-slice-and-immediately-break-into-sweat pie.

White pizza, southern style.

But really, this pie was an excuse to show my newly-discovered, fav pizza topping off. Cucumbers!

Try it before you scrunch up your face in disgust. What happens when cukes are baked with cheese and sauce is pretty magic - they soften just a bit and soak up flavors like you wouldn't believe. Now I know watery veggies spell disaster for pies - but since I'm a devotee of fresh 'mater pizza, I've developed a relatively foolproof method of de-moisturizing veggies before using them as toppings. The almighty paper towel method.

First, peel and core your cukes with a spoon (seeds hold water!) then slice into 1/4 inch slices. Salt very lightly, and lay on a paper towel for about 20 minutes. Put another towel on top to increase moisture absorption.

This works just as well on tomatoes, for the rekkid.

For the rest of the pie, you'll need:

1 batch of pizza dough (this recipe is my fav)
1 - 1.5 cups Ranch Dressing (I put my recipe at the bottom, but in a pinch a refrigerated brand will do)
1 medium cuke, sliced, cored, and drained
1 medium mater, sliced thin and drained
2 cups mild Jack cheese, shredded
Sliced BBQ or Buffalo "wings" - I used morningstar farms', making sure to douse them in more sauce before baking. Let them cool and slice them very thin.
Flour, for dusting.

Preheat yer oven to 500f.

Prepare your crust. I'm attempting to learn how to properly throw dough: this video is muy helpful. Use your pizza stone or pizza pan to plate the pie, and move on to the next step.

Using a ladle, spoon dressing onto the pie, spreading to the edge, just as you would pizza sauce. You can use a little bit more than you would red sauce, since there's less water in Ranch than tomato sauce.

Lay a thin layer (maybe 1/2 cup) of cheese over the ranch. This is your liquid barrier.

In a single layer, scatter your cukes, then on top of them, tomatoes, then on the tippy top, sliced "wings", keeping things as flat as possible. Sprinkle the rest of the cheese over top. Slide that mother into the oven and bake until the bottom crust is almost burnt - you need a tough crust to stand up to the liquid in this pizza. This usually takes about 15 minutes. I also broil for 2-3 minutes once the crust is almost to where I like it, just to get
brown on top.

Let this thing sit for about 10 minutes, maybe longer, before even trying to slice it. In fact, I enjoyed the slice I had the next day (after it cooled, and I reheated it) a little more than the slice I had fresh outta the oven. If you're feeling arty and cool, top your slice with a little lettuce chiffonade! So yum.

Your Momma's Ranch Dressin':

1 quart mayonnaise (either homemade or Duke's, please)
1 pint sour cream (Breakstone's or another, equally firm, sour cream)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon celery salt
1 pint buttermilk
4 tablespoons freshly minced dill, parsley, and chives, equal proportions
1.5 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
Mix it all very well, and let sit in a jar in the fridge overnight. 

1 comment:

  1. Loving this. I've been working on my pizza dough's but the toppings have always remained the same (fresh mozzarella and fresh basil). I've been wanting to mix it up. Love the shredded lettuce on top as a healthy camouflage. Great!