Sunday, September 7, 2008

CSA - Mexican pizza

I'm in a rare pizza mood today, but I've never tried any of the local take-out places and I don't feel like taking the gamble. I haven't got the makings of a proper Italian pie in the house, but I think I can pull off Mexican pizza. I have a residual fondness for such things, as most people do I suppose, from some truly awful pies I had at the local pizza parlor that had the best selection of video games. A dumb reason to pick a restaurant I'll admit. These days they'd have to have a good selection of pinball to get me in the door.

So to start off I have to make some dough. I used to do this fairly frequently, but any recipes I've kept are lost in the pile. Instead I'll use a recipe from another blog that I've been reading for a bit, A Good Appetite. The recipe's for a garlic bread that's actually more like a skimpy calzone so I left out the garlic and parsley filling and added some chili powder and Mexican oregano to the mix to make it suitably Mexican.

As is typical of my baking experiences, following the recipe left me with a unworkably wet sticky dough that inexplicably swallowed up at least another half cup of flour while barely changing in texture. Eventually it got close to the proper texture and I figured it got kneaded enough while I was folding in all that the flour. All that extra flour gave me rather more dough than I wanted, so I put half in the freezer and set the other aside to rise for an hour and a half.

An hour in, I started the oven preheating to 450 degrees. I keep a pizza stone in my oven all the time to act as a heat capacitor to smooth out any unevenness in my oven's heating cycle. For actually cooking pizza I took it off the bottom rack and moved it up one space.

When the dough had risen to around double its volume I dumped it out onto a silpat and spread it outwards with my fingertips. It's a bit too soft to properly work and it's a little underkneaded, but that means it won't spring back so it doesn't need a ten minute rest after deflation. Also, it sticks to the silpat which keeps it spread out into a good pizza shape.

I prefer a thickness that isn't quite that paper thin thin crust you can get. That's lucky for me because the under-kneading means the dough won't stretch out properly to get that. If you like it that way look up "windowing" to get the details. It will make more sense with the sort of pictures I don't have. When I got it to the right thickness I took a sideless cookie sheet I use for a peel, dusted it with corn meal and then held the silpat upside down over it so the crust could peel itself off and drop down. That wouldn't work with properly prepared pizza dough, but then with proper pizza dough it wouldn't be necessary.

I gave the crust a drizzle of olive oil and then spread a layer of herbs and spices--cilantro, chili powder, cumin, cayenne, oregano. A layer of shredded jalapeno cheddar on top of that and then slices of tomato and avocado along with chopped pickled peppers and crumbled fried up Mexican chorizo.

Into the oven for 10 minutes and I got this:

I've got to say I'm surprised but the crust is actually really good: crisp on the bottom and chewy on top. My camera's not great at close ups but you can sort of see the two layers in the cross-section. The toppings worked well, but to really get the right effect I should have used enchilada sauce under the cheese. The flavors are the standard Mexican set so you know they work well together. I did go a bit overboard with the peppers, though. Texturally, the cheese has melted into the crust to make the chewy layer, the avocado adds creaminess and the tomato melts during each bite with a little burst of flavor. The chorizo in particular has a lot more character than the traditional ground beef, both with its crispy texture and its rougher flavor. The big minus though is that the pizza's a bit dry. I tried adding some green salsa after the fact, but it overwhelmed the over flavors. Well, lesson learned; keep some enchilada sauce around just in case.


kat said...

I'm laughing that we both linked to each other today! That dough is the same we use for pizzas too & lately we've noticed we need to add a lot more flour to it too, maybe its been the summer humidity. I love the idea of a mexican pizza. That's the fun of making pizza at home, you can really play with the tastes.

billjac said...

The timing's a bit of a coincidence. I only posted this today because I decided to let the dish I've been working on (and the post about it) another day in the pickle jar. But otherwise, you can expect me to link to you a lot more as I start using all your recipes when my CSA starts up.

As for the pizza, it's adapted well to cuisines all over the planet. I might do a series on reconstructing some of those flavors at home if I can figure out a reliable crust recipe.

NatNibbles said...

Looks great...I've never made a home made pizza crust, I always just buy the dough at Publix. Gotta try this some time!