Retro: Ham and Pineapple Pizza (a.k.a. using up the ham)
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore. When the world seems to shine like you’ve had too much wine, that’s amore. - Dino Crocetti (Dean Martin), 'That’s Amore'.
Dino certainly knew what he was crooning about when he sang of love and other good things in Naples, the city in which modern pizza is said to have originated. According to food history, the world’s first pizzeria, Antica Pizzeria Port ‘Alba, opened for business in Naples in 1830 and is apparently still trading today. Neapolitan pizza became more famous in 1889, when pizzaiolo Raffaele Espositio (of Napoli, where else?!) created a patriotic pizza topped with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil leaves (the colours of the Italian flag) for the visiting King Umberto I and Queen Margherita.
There is also a society known as the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana or the True Neapolitan Pizza Association, whose precise guidelines dictate the ingredients and cooking methods for pizza and expert pizza makers. This snippet, however, is for those home cooks who like to indulge in a little slice of Napoli by making pizza at home.
A quick poll on Twitter revealed some delicious combinations for toppings, including 'tomato, buffalo mozzarella, lots of basil leaves and chilli'; 'chorizo with potato, good mozzarella and rosemary'; 'Spring onions (shallots)'; 'broccoli' (interesting!); and 'fresh tomato slices, ham, mushrooms, olives, feta, capers and fresh basil'; and 'spelt pizza base olive oil, parsley, garlic and chilli, Spencer gulf prawns, Patagonian scallops, mozzarella and lemon', oh yum!
My favourite pizza toppings include potato, rosemary and caramelised onion; and also chicken with roasted capsicum, among others. Here I've opted for my retro Ham and Pineapple (Hawaiian) version, which is a great way to use up some of the Christmas ham!
With New Year's Eve just a couple of sleeps away, I think we might opt for a pizza party. What's your favourite pizza topping? Do you have a pizza oven? Please pop in and share your recipes and tell me your menu plans for New Year's Eve.
RETRO HAM AND PINEAPPLE (HAWAIIAN) PIZZA
For the dough*:
800g strong baker's or pizza flour, sifted
1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
2 cups lukewarm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
For the topping:1/3 cup tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon lemon thyme, chopped
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 a fresh pineapple, peeled, cored and cut into chunks
1 eschallot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 heaped cup of ham chunks
1/2 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
To make the dough, combine the flour, yeast and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the dough hook, turn on the mixer and add the lukewarm water and olive oil to the flour. Mix slowly for two minutes on a low setting, then turn up to a higher setting and mix for two minutes, then turn back down and allow the mixer to knead the dough for five to ten minutes, or until the dough forms a smooth and springy ball. (Or knead by hand until the dough is shiny, elastic and smooth).
Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel and stand the bowl in a warm spot in the kitchen (free from draughts) until the dough has doubled in size (one to two hours). I sometimes leave it a little longer. Punch the dough down and turn it out onto a lightly floured board and cut it into eight even sized pieces. Knead each piece into a smooth ball and place on a lightly floured board and allow to rest for 15 minutes while you prepare the toppings. Meanwhile, your oven is preheating.
When you are ready to roll out your pizza bases, work on a lightly floured board and roll out to the size of your pizza stone or pizza tray. Use your hands and the rolling pin to work and stretch the dough to shape. I like a nice thin pizza crust, but you can leave the dough thicker if you wish. Transfer the base to a lightly floured pizza board or pizza peel and prepare the toppings.
Brush the bases liberally with tomato paste (leaving a gap of about a centimetre around the edges) and a sprinkle of lemon thyme and chilli flakes (or use your favourite pizza sauce or passata). Sprinkle with grated mozzarella and then arrange the chunks of ham and pineapple, as well as the eschallot slices, over the top. Finish with a light sprinkle of dried chilli flakes if you like a little more bite.
Slide onto a pizza stone and bake in a preheated wood fired pizza oven, very hot gas or electric oven, or wood fired chiminea pizza oven (see pic). Bake until the base is cooked and the cheese is nicely melted. Slice and serve.
Note 1: The gap you left around the edge when putting on the topping will ensure that the edges of the pizza puff up beautifully during cooking. See pics.
*Note 2: this quantity will make eight thin pizza bases. If you have any leftover, the pizza dough can be wrapped in cling film and frozen until you are ready to use it. Simply defrost the dough before use.
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.