Saturday, November 15, 2008
French Bread Pizza - That's Amore!
Have you ever sunk your teeth into a bite of French bread pizza? Do you remember the massive crunch sound that erupted? For today's post, instead of french bread, I actually used a lovely puglieise bread, which is a crusty bread that hails from Southern Italy. (That’s pronounced pool-yee-AY-zee.) It is the closest I’ve ever found to the type of bread my Italian grandma made every other day. Still warm from the bakery oven, I snatched it off the shelf as soon as it was set out.Isn’t it lovely? (I like the word "lovely". I say it a lot.) Crunchy crust + soft yet dense interior = YUM. I don’t really boast a love affair with pizza per se, but my oldest children go all dreamy eyed when the word pizza is mentioned. As we follow a mostly gluten-free diet for my youngest eater, pizza has not been on our menu for a spell. Tonight, however, my hubbyman escorted said gluten-free child to her end-of-season soccer party, which left me at home with two hungry teens. I actually planned to have pizza as a surprise for them. But not just any old pizza. Nope, we were going to make French, oops, I mean Italian bread pizzas, or pizza bread, together.
This is part of yet another quest of mine to teach my children their way around a kitchen. I’ve been hit and miss with this task, and after watching Marjie and Pam regularly create all sorts of goodies with their kids, I seized upon the opportunity to get my petit chefs cooking tonight.
Italian pizza bread conjures up sweet, sweet memories for me. When I was little, my mom would frequently make the most amazing, awesome spaghetti meat sauce. As a special treat, she would spoon some of the thick, meaty sauce on a slice of homemade bread for me as a hearty snack to hold me over until dinner time. Gosh, I’m getting all teary eyed remembering standing by her side, and seeing the love on her face as she handed it to me. She’d give me a quick hug, and kiss my forehead before sending me on my way. Gee, those memories can really sneak up on a body sometimes!
Anyway, I prefer pizza on bread most likely because of that special snack. I love that CRUNCH that you can only get from thick, toasted bread combined with the gooey cheese and toppings. One reason I don’t really crave traditional pizza is that I can’t stand the grease that I have to dab off the top. BLECH! Since my son and hubbyman are die-hard carnivores (they like pepperoni and/or sausage on their pizzas), so I take an extra step to avoid having those orange pools of grease on their pizza. Want to know my secret? Ready? (whispering) Cook the meat first. That’s it; it’s that simple. The pepperoni can easily be microwaved for about 30 seconds thereby releasing the majority of its fat content. (I had a photo to insert here to show you the grease released from the microwaved pepperoni, but, well, that’s just gross.) Watch it carefully because pepperoni can crisp up like bacon really fast. I have a great appetizer recipe idea for pepperoni chips, but that’s for another time. For pizza bread, just zap your pepp, dab with a paper towel just as you would bacon, and set aside until it’s time to build the pizza. If crumbled sausage makes your heart sing, just fry it up in a pan first. I used my handy-dandy cast iron pan.
To create a top-notch pizza bread, start with a lovely, crusty loaf such as Pugliese. Slice in half, and in half again if you like. Here’s another tip. Rather than just pile on the toppings and bake, treat it like garlic bread. Whip together equal parts melted butter and olive oil, and season with garlic powder, season salt, oregano, and basil.Spread this mixture over the sliced loaves, and pop them in a preheated 375 oven for about 10 minutes. The top of the bread should feel just slightly crunchy. That texture will keep it from getting soggy when you put the sauce and toppings on.Now it’s time to load up your bread. The method is to start with sauce, then a thin layer of shredded mozzarella (Shred it yourself, I beg of you. It melts so much better.) This will “glue” your toppings to your pizza. Next, put on whatever toppings you like ... pepperoni, sausage, onions, peppers, mushrooms (precook those a bit, too), tomatoes, olives, whatever... and then top it off with a little bit more cheese. Of course, you can create a plain cheese one or even leave the sauce off and create a lovely cheese bread. If you like, you can sprinkle the top with parmesan (we didn’t this time, but it’s goooood.)
Pop it back into the 375 oven for 5 minutes or until the cheese is all gooey.Now, leaving your pan in the oven, crank up the top unit of your broiler. Watching carefully, look for the cheese to start to bubble and brown, anywhere from 3 – 5 minutes.As soon as it starts to show that golden brown color, take the bread out of the oven. Let sit for 5 minutes and then serve.
Ohhhhh yeahhhhh. C-R-U-N-C-H! The toppings stay in place, the cheese is gooey, and the bread provides terrific texture.Here is a plain one.Here's one loaded up. See what's missing? No grease! Your mouth and tummy will do a happy dance. Warning: Pizza Bread is VERY filling. Your loved ones won’t be able to snarf this down like regular pizza. In fact, just pair it with a tossed salad, and you’ll be good to go.
My kids and I enjoyed making these together, yet for me, the best part was when they went all dreamy as they started eating their bread. Both kids raved about it, and my son wants to make and eat it again tomorrow.Mmmmmm. *Happy sigh* My work is done here.