Last year, for my birthday, my friend Bonnie indulged me in one of my little not-so-secret guilty pleasures: a subscription to Sunset magazine. I first subscribed when I lived in Arizona — Finally, I thought, I can subscribe semi-guilt-free to this western lifestyle food-and-home-decor porn! For the first time in my life — after years of pining — I actually lived in the west. It was totally legit!
Alas, the legitimacy of my Sunset subscription was soon called into question when Dan and I shuffled back east. Of course, Sunset didn’t care — they have admirers near and far. But seeing the magazine in my mailbox those first few months in green, humid Massachusetts — nary a cactus in sight — just made me sad that I had reversed course instead of heading further west as originally planned. I quickly got over that, and luckily had a dear, former-easterner-now-San-Franciscan friend ready and willing to lure me with west coast propaganda. Oh, thank you, Bonnie!
This month, Sunset’s piece on the new west coast pizza culture had me raising a New York bred eyebrow in skepticism. Sure, good food can happen anywhere, but it’s not often that you hear the word “California” — or Oregon (though I was swayed, a little, by Ken’s), or Washington (and I lust after the menu at Delancey) — along with the words “amazing pizza.”
Okay, so maybe I was wrong. I hereby lower my skeptical eyebrows. Why? Because the pizza we made on Friday — from a recipe in Sunset — was life-changingly delicious. Life-changing. Lip-smacking. Pizza.
These are words I pretty much want to hear together on a regular basis.
Thank goodness for Sunset magazine.
Broccoli Rabe Pizza
Adapted from Sunset and Martha Stewart Living
The rabe we used for this pizza was not, alas, grown locally. It’s hard to find much of anything grown locally here in the Berkshires during the deep January freeze. But! I mention it now not only because it was phenomenally delicious, but because it would probably taste just as fantastic if you have, growing in a cold frame, some frost-kissed lacinato kale, or another hearty green, in place of the broccoli rabe.
First, the Sunset recipe makes three 12″ pizzas, but we made just one for the two of us. I’ve preserved the original amounts, but to adjust the recipe, you can divide the topping ingredients into thirds, roughly. Second, we used our own dough recipe, which, at the time of this writing (it changes frequently), is based on Chris Bianco’s recipe as it appeared in Martha Stewart Living. It’s worth making a full dough recipe — or even a double — because you can freeze the additional dough balls in plastic wrap. When you’re ready to use them again, just set out on the counter to defrost for a few hours. We make our dough in a stand mixer, but you can do it the old-fashioned way, too. It’s essential that you preheat the oven — yes, for an hour.
Finally, the recipe calls for both cream and buttermilk. (Just ignore the fact that this sounds strange and trust me.) If you’re like us, you don’t have both those things just lying around the house — and you’re loath to buy a quart of buttermilk, only to have it sit in the back of the fridge for three weeks, slowly fermenting. We happened to have cream on hand from a recipe we made earlier in the week, so Dan used it to make a little bit of fresh butter (shake the cream in a jar until it solidifies; that’s it), and we used the buttermilk leftover from that.
For the dough:
- 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (one 1/4-ounce envelope)
- 2 cups warm water (105 degrees to 115 degrees)
- 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
- 4 to 4 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil
For the topping:
- 10 oz. fresh mozzarella packed in liquid
- 1/3 cup liquid from mozzarella container
- 1/4 cup shredded caciocavallo or parmesan cheese
- 1/4 cup each heavy cream and buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided
- 1 lb. broccoli rabe (about 1 large bunch)
- 2 garlic cloves, well smashed
- 4 tbsp. olive oil
- About 1/4 tsp. red chile flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1/3 cup oil-cured black olives (soaked in water and drained if salty), pitted and torn in half
- Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling
Make the dough
- Dissolve yeast in warm water in the bowl of a stand mixer and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in the whole wheat pastry flour, 2 cups flour, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, and the salt, stirring on low speed until smooth. Stir in an additional 2 cups flour; continue adding flour (up to 1/2 cup), 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until dough comes away from bowl but is still sticky.
- Using the stand mixer’s dough hook attachment, knead the dough on medium speed, pausing to scrape the dough down the hook if necessary. Continue kneading until dough is smooth, elastic, and soft, but a little tacky, about 7 minutes.
- Shape dough into a ball and transfer to a lightly oiled bowl; turn to coat. Cover with plastic or a damp towel, and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, 3 hours. Press it with your finger to see if it’s done; an indent should remain.
- Place a pizza stone on the top rack of your oven, close to the broiler but with a few inches headspace. Preheat oven to at least 500 degrees, or as high as the oven will go, for 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, scrape dough out of the bowl onto floured surface, and cut it into 4 pieces. Shape into balls. Dust with flour, and cover with plastic. Let rest, 20 to 30 minutes, allowing dough to relax and almost double.
Make the topping
- With flat side of a chef’s knife, mash a third of the mozzarella into a pulverized mass. Dice remaining mozzarella into 1/2-in. cubes. In a medium bowl, mix both mozzarellas with mozzarella liquid, shredded cheese, cream, and buttermilk. Season with 1/4 tsp. salt.
- Cut broccoli rabe into 1-in. sections, discarding tough lower stems.
- In a large frying pan over very low heat, cook garlic in oil, stirring often, until transparent, about 5 minutes. Add chile flakes and toast for a second, then add broccoli rabe. Stir in remaining 1/4 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper.
- Crank heat to medium-high and cook broccoli rabe, stirring, until liquid starts to evaporate and broccoli rabe is tender-crisp, 5 to 7 minutes.
Make the pizza
- Heat the oven to broil.
- Holding top edge of 1 dough ball in both hands, let bottom edge touch work surface (refrigerate remaining balls as you work). Carefully move hands around edge to form a circle, as if turning a wheel. Hold dough on back of your hand, letting its weight stretch it into a 12-inch round. Transfer dough to a lightly floured pizza peel (or an inverted baking sheet). Press out edges using your fingers. Jerk peel; if dough sticks, lift, and dust more flour underneath.
- Spread about 2/3 cup cheese mixture over dough. Top with 1/2 cup broccoli rabe, a pinch of chile flakes, and 2 tbsp. olives.
- Align edge of peel with edge of stone. Tilt peel, jerking it gently to move pizza. When edge of pizza touches stone, quickly pull back peel to transfer pizza to stone. (Do not move pizza.) Broil until bubbles begin to form in crust, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove pizza from oven using peel, and serve immediately.