Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Summer Pizza with Peaches and Prosciutto
Growing up, Fourth of July picnics in our neighborhood always involved the following:
1. One sacrificial pig: roasted all night long by a troupe of beer-soaked men who saw it as their patriotic duty to stand a drunken vigil as it reached succulent perfection;
2. A festive parade through the subdivision led by “Uncle Sam” waving from the bed of an old pickup truck (with a chintzy beard of cotton balls adhered to his face with Vaseline, he was predictably hung over from his previous night of Pig Duty with the other “Founding Fathers”); and
3. A huge pot-luck picnic by the neighborhood pool.
While the pig was always the centerpiece of the spread, I always saved room on my plate for what I like to call the Pillsbury Housewife Pizzas. You know exactly what I’m talking about here—a base of ready-made crescent roll or sugar cookie dough from the tube, cream cheese mixed with ranch salad dressing powder or powdered sugar, and topped with either salad veggies or mixed summer fruit. Spoon yourself some Suddenly Salad and a dollop of potato salad from the Piggly Wiggly deli counter, and you’ve got yourself a plateful of old school summer picnic magic.
Fast-forward twenty years to my adulthood. While I long for the mustard sauce-doused pork of my youth, I can leave the soggy, saccharine dessert pizzas behind. This Summer Pizza with Peaches and Prosciutto plays on all the elements of a sweet pizza, but stops just short of being a real dessert. Gorgonzola cheese is the creamy, piquant counter to ripe peaches. Fresh basil and mint lend a bright herbal flavor, and prosciutto and a little brown sugar perpetuate my favorite combination of salty and sweet.
If you’re drinking (and why shouldn’t you be?), try this pizza with a chilled Rosé or a yeasty, spicy, unfiltered Belgian wheat beer.
Prepared pizza dough, your favorite recipe (Note: I like to use the pizza dough recipe from the Joy of Cooking, which makes enough dough for two pizzas)
2 small to medium-sized ripe peaches, chopped
6 tablespoons crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
5 thin slices Prosciutto
5 basil leaves
8 mint leaves
2 tablespoons brown sugar
cornmeal for dusting
1. Preheat oven to 475° F. If using a pizza stone (recommended), preheat it in the oven as well.
2. When oven and stone are preheated, stretch and shape pizza dough on a floured surface. Sprinkle pizza stone/baking sheet with cornmeal, and transfer the dough to the stone. Brush crust lightly with olive oil. Par-bake for approx. 5-7 minutes, or until crust is just barely starting to show signs of browning.
3. While crust par-bakes, lay slices of prosciutto in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook briefly, just long enough to brown it gently, about 2-3 min. on each side. Transfer to a paper towel-covered plate. Prosciutto will crisp up as it cools. Once cool, break prosciutto into small pieces/strips.
4. Once par-baked, remove pizza from oven. Sprinkle on brown sugar, then peaches, prosciutto and Gorgonzola cheese. Place back in the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes more, or until the cheese has melted and the crust has browned nicely. (Peaches will be heated through and perhaps a tad browned, but not broken down.)
5. Remove pizza from the oven. Allow to cool for 3-5 minutes, top with a chiffonade of basil and mint. Slice and serve.
Posted by Alex Harrison at 1:20 PM