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Fried pizza - leftovers 4

"a small amount of ingredients go a long way with pizza" Jamie Oliver

But I can't resist and always put too much on top and so my pizzas end up soggy. I should perhaps have watched Jamie Oliver make his No-oven pizza before I made last night's leftovers dish - Pizza al tegame from Elizabeth David's Italian Food book. Obviously that is Jamie's on the left - Mine is the much less appetising looking effort on the right. That said it was very tasty and the bottom was fairly crisp but yes the bulk was a bit soggy. I always do this with pizza. I just load it up with sauce - too much and then pile on salami, tomatoes and cheese - sometimes even more stuff - thus ending up with soggy.

So let's make clear what the perfect pizza should be like - the perfect pizza being a margherita or marinara of course - marinara being tomato not fish:

"a soft yet satisfyingly chewy base, all puffed up and charred at the edges, the merest smear of tomato sauce, the odd dot of mozzarella and a few torn basil leaves." Felicity Cloake

Mind you, here Felicity is talking about a wood-fired pizza not a fried one, although the same kind of principle applies. And just to show you the impossible peak we are aiming for here is one of the recent Australian wins in the world championships. And no we can't achieve this unless you have a wood-fired oven because we cannot get to the right temperature:

"I get cross when I read recipes that say you can make authentic pizza like this at home – you just can't." Franco Manca - UK pizza chef - wood fired oven

Less is more - except for that 400°C temperature - where pizza is concerned. I am therefore fundamentally unable to make one because of a deep impulse that I have with everything I cook - to add more than is required. That just one more thing thing. And you know, sometimes I think Ottolenghi does too. Except he has a better idea of the unique thing that will make all the difference.

Franco Marca - that chef with the quote above - went on to say that we should not despair over not having a wood-fired oven because we should do what people did way back, before they had ovens. Yes they sometimes used the local baker's oven but mostly they fried their pizzas. According to the Neopolitans fried pizza is the original pizza.

But I digress somewhat. Back to my fourth leftover meal. Why pizza? Well I still had three sausages, two of which are earmarked for sauerkraut but I wasn't in a sauerkraut mood, so I decided on pizza. However, I was feeling lazy and so I decided to use an old favourite recipe Elizabeth David's Pizza al tegame (fried pizza). Delia uses the recipe although she calls it Fried pizza Amalfitan, as does the lady of The English Kitchen, whose version is shown here, albeit with a different topping. I found this recipe back in the day when I was working and feeding two teenage boys. Quick and satisfying. The pastry is not made with yeast, but with flour and baking powder - well self-raising flour I suppose - and you fry it in quite a lot of olive oil. It's supposed to come up to the level of the top of the pastry circle. When it's brown you flip it over, top it, put a lid over it and cook until the cheese has melted. At this stage though I take my frying pan and put it under the grill to finish it off.

But of course it's not that simple. There are variations, and Jamie covers them all. I should have watched Jamie, make that No-oven pizza because when I did watch the video I learnt that you don't need the oil at all - just a non-stick pan. Now Jamie has three other versions with videos: Pizza fritta, Cheat's deep pan pizza and also Favourite speedy sausage pizza as well as one from his late friend Antonio Carlucci called Deep pan pizza all of which are shown below.

There are videos for all of these - each about five minutes long, all worth watching for the little tips and tricks that you get with his videos. So what are the variations? Well the first one - the pizza fritta, is indeed fried, but the dough is your normal pizza dough and therefore not as quick as the others. Is the finished base better? Who knows. The other variations are that some are finished off in the oven or under the grill, some are fried in a completely dry non-stick pan which is almost the very opposite of Elizabeth David's version, some are fried in the fat used to cook the topping, and one of them just had the lid put over the top of the pan after the toppings had been added. Oh and one, I can't remember which now was not flipped over in the pan before the toppings were added, although that was probably the one that was finished in the oven.

So what about the fat, no fat, some fat question? I also came across an article from Felicity Cloake in which she discussed this very question and came to the conclusion that the dry-fried version (on the left) was better - besides being more economical (no expensive oil) and easier to wash up.

Oh and if you are really interested in making better pizzas there was also an interesting article on the Smitten Kitchen website. Not quick though because you had to make the proper dough and leave it to rise for ages - preferably overnight. Planning rather than actual time I suppose.

In the past - maybe the first time I tried - I did make a rather more perfect Elizabeth David version, which probably didn't have quite as much tomato sauce. I actually think that the base of those versions made with the self-raising flour is actually much better than the yeasty dough - but that's probably just my expertise. Try it some time anyway.

As for the leftovers - it wasn't just the one sliced sausage that was added to the salami, it was also the remains of the mozzarella from my cannelloni dish, and the remains of the chicken roast veggies and sauce which were blitzed with a couple of tomatoes to make the sauce.

I learnt quite a bit from this blog today, both just for me - those cooking tips from Jamie mostly - but also in terms of the life, the universe and everything thing. History of course; one of the Jamie videos was in his Keep Cooking and Carry On venture when COVID lockdown took hold, so you could remember and ponder on everything that flowed from that. Antonio Carlucci was a much-loved television chef who explored the food of regional Italy and I'm sure there is much could you learn about both him and regional Italy there. If you want to get scientific - non-stick frying pans - I don't think Elizabeth David would have known about them. Jamie, for his Cheat's deep pan pizza used pickled jalapeños from a supermarket jar - science, geography, biology ...

And another thing. Before I started this blog I was looking for a starter and a dessert for my Saturday lunch and thought to check out a book I don't use very much More Please by the late Valli Little. I realised as I flicked through that I do not use it enough - so many things to make in there. There were four desserts that caught my eye - but also - a coincidence, knowing that I was about to write about fried pizza - this elegant Frypan pizza - exactly what I was about to write about. She doesn't have a lot of topping either. I must restrain myself. A smear of tomato sauce, a mere sprinkling of topping and a mild grating of cheese. All that's needed and better for you too. Some time soon.

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