Now that you have my go-to recipes for homemade pizza dough and sauce, it's time to share with you my favorite pizza (or least one of them). Meaty salami, fresh mozzarella, herbal basil and peppery arugula all come together for a remarkable flavor combination. The salami is cut into matchsticks rather than circles for a better bite. They are also quickly pan fried to remove some of the excess fat and to provide a slight crisp. Fresh mozzarella is used instead of the standard processed version for a light and creamy texture. Once baked to perfection, it is topped with a sprinkle of chopped basil and some baby arugula.
Speaking of baking a pizza-- this is a controversial issue. And what I mean by that is-- What oven rack position to you place your baking stone on? The answer-- It depends on your oven. With my previous oven I had success with the upper middle position, but with my current oven I achieve the best results with the middle position. The bottom and outer edge of the crust should be nicely browned with a few charred spots. If the top of the pizza bakes faster than the bottom, lower the baking rack before continuing with the second pizza. It may take a couple of tries before you find what works best for you. Bon Appétit magazine even came out with this method using the broiler element.
Salami and Arugula Pizza
makes two 12- to 14-inch pizzas
4 ounces Italian salami, sliced into 1/4-inch matchsticks
2 (13-ounce) balls of pizza dough
1 cup pizza sauce
6 ounces fresh mozzarella (fior di latte), shredded
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
8 large basil leaves, chiffonade
Handful of baby arugula
Unbleached all-purpose flour and/or cornmeal for dusting
Extra-Virgin olive oil for brushing
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
Place a baking stone on the middle shelf of your oven (unless you know your oven well enough to place it on a different shelf) and preheat on the highest setting (about 575º F) for at least an hour.
While the oven is heating, cook the salami strips in a dry non-stick skillet over medium high heat until they just begin to crisp, about 3-5 minutes. Transfer the meat to a paper towel to drain the fat; set aside.
Making one pizza at a time on a lightly floured surface, shape the ball into a 12- to 14-inch pizza, about 1/4-inch thick and slightly thicker towards the edge. Transfer the dough to a pizza peel or inverted baking sheet that has been lightly dusted with flour or cornmeal.
Brush the outer edge of the dough with Extra-Virgin olive oil. Spread 1/2 cup of the pizza sauce over the dough. Arrange half of the mozzarella and half of the drained salami over the top of the sauce and sprinkle with half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Carefully slide the pizza from the peel onto the baking stone. Bake until the crust is puffy and slightly charred on the edge, about 7-9 minutes.
Remove the pizza from the oven and immediately sprinkle with the basil and arugula. Sprinkle with crushed red pepper flakes if using. Slice and serve. Repeat with the remaining ingredients for the second pizza. Enjoy!
Source: Adapted from American Pie by Peter Reinhart