Pizza is a food that most people have experienced a craving for at one time or another, or maybe I am applying my feelings to describe the entire human population, which could be dangerous but not a first for me. If you are not like me for some reason and have never had a craving for pizza I am going to humbly suggest that is because you haven’t eaten the right pizza and you more than everyone else need this recipe. Now please do not get confused and think pizza is pizza is pizza; for example a pizza from a fast food restaurant is not the same as a frozen pizza that you pop in the oven at home, which is certainly not the same as a fresh pizza coming out of a coal-fired brick oven somewhere in Italy as the sun sets and you slowly sip your Tuscan wine savouring the moment when a cool breeze glides over your sun kissed skin. I am getting carried away but a trip back to Italy is long overdue and I am sure you can guess the one that I’d choose to eat even though I do think it is essential to always have a pizza in the freezer for those times when cooking or going out for a meal is just not an option.
If I am going to give into my sporadic pizza cravings it better be one that is worth each and every calorie. One such place in London that makes delicious pizzas is Franco Manca. I have only been to the one in Brixton and their greatest asset is the pizza dough, according to their website “the pizza is made from slow-rising sourdough (minimum 20 hours) and is baked in a wood burning ‘tufae’ brick oven made on site by specialised artisans from Naples.” All I can say is that it is 20 hours well spent because the dough is thin but not crunchy, has great elasticity yet a lot of air and the pizza is light but filling. I had a great white sauce pizza from Franco Manca for lunch one day so that I didn’t need to line up for ages in the evening and it was not at all disappointing. I love tomatoes in all forms, raw, cooked, stewed but I did not miss them because the white sauce was rich and provided an alternative to the sweetness of tomato sauce that I am used to. Even though my yummy truth recipe does not include 20 hours dedicated to slow-rising sourdough it is a delicious way to feed that craving I have mentioned and make a meal perfect for sharing where you may be able to add an element of surprise at the dinner table with the white sauce.
Open a window to let out the smoke but make sure you inhale first because it smells good.
How many times have you had a white sauce with you pizza instead of a tomato sauce?
Live, Love, Eat!
- 500 g self-raising flour plus some more for dusting
- 5 g powdered dried yeast
- 7 g salt
- 325 ml warm water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 8 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 red pepper thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons plain flour
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 300 ml half and half or milk
- 100 g Parmesan cheese
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 2 shallots, sliced thinly
- 250 g Mozzarella cheese
- 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
- Preheat oven at 350ºF
- Place flour, salt, oil and yeast into a bowl and combine well. Then gradually add the warm water and stir with a wooden spoon until it comes together to form a ball – be careful it’s not too sticky. Cover with cling film and leave in warm spot till it doubles in size – about 30 mins.
- Once your oven is ready, chop off the top of the garlic, drizzle with a little olive oil, wrap in foil and roast for about 30 mins until garlic is soft. When you have removed the garlic from the oven turn up the temperature to 400ºF.
- Take your chicken breasts and slice lengthways through the middle so you can open then out. Season well with salt and pepper and fry using a griddle pan for 4-5 minutes on each side ensuring you get nice charring over and they’re cooked through. Set aside until they cool and then slice thinly.
- Meanwhile, in a large non-stick saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat and add your roasted garlic and the flour stirring quickly. Once it’s all incorporated, gradually add the half and half or milk stirring fast to ensure it doesn’t stick or get lumpy. Once you’ve added all the milk, take the saucepan off the heat and stir in the grated parmesan, season with black pepper and set aside.
- Make your base by turning the dough onto a floured surface and knead for 3-4 minutes until its feels smooth and elastic. Stretch into the four corners of a greased non-stick baking tin.
- Using the back of a wooden spoon, spread the white sauce over the dough, then add peppers, shallots, chicken ensuring that all the ingredients are covering the pizza evenly and then finish with mozzarella and thyme leaves all over.
- Bake in the oven for 25 minutes or until cheese is melted and the crust is golden.