Last month, I attended the 2013 National Restaurant Show at McCormick Place.
At the show I had the opportunity to attend a cooking demo with New York celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman, an early culinary influence of mine from back in the day. If you ever had the chance to dine at Jams or Bud’s in the ‘80s, or more recently at his acclaimed Barbuto restaurant in the West Village, you’ll know why I was excited.
Waxman is all about fantastic, fresh seasonal foods that are simply prepared. “It’s accessible. These recipes are made for the home cook,” he says. And the problem of years ago—that good raw products weren’t readily available here—is a thing of the past. It’s hard to believe, but once, “Fava beans, true prosciutto, wonderful olive oils and great wines were not grocery staples,” Waxman writes in “Italian, My Way” (Simon & Schuster, 2011). “Now you can walk into any good supermarket in any city in America and see ten kinds of olive oil, five balsamico, six types of Arborio rice and a plethora of other Italian specialties!” Amen to that.
Here’s one of my favorite pizza recipes from the book, featuring burrata, or as Waxman calls it, “the king of mozzarella.” If you haven’t had this luscious, creamy cheese before, you’re in for a treat.
Pancetta, Cherry Tomato, Burrata and Scallion Pizza
Makes 2 pies; serves 4-6
- 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved horizontally
- 1 bunch scallions, washed, trimmed and minced
- JW Pizza dough (recipe follows) for 2 pies, or sub store-bought dough
- 1/2 cup finely diced pancetta
- 1/2 pound burrata cheese, diced
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Preheat oven to 450.
2. In a bowl, combine tomatoes and scallions. Set aside.
3. Form dough into 2 pies. Sprinkle each with the pancetta, then the scallion-tomato mixture, and finally the burrata. Spread Parmesan evenly over the pies and then drizzle some oil on top.
4. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until golden, top and bottom.
(Editor’s note: Waxman doesn’t specify, but you can bake these on a preheated pizza stones or heavy, rimmed cookie sheets.)
Jonathan Waxman’s Pizza Dough
Makes enough dough for 6 10-inch pizzas
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/4 cup stale beer
- 1 3/4 cups warm water, plus more if needed
- 5 cups organic all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons sea salt
1. The day before you make your pizza, make the sponge: combine yeast, olive oil, honey, beer, 1 3/4 cups warm water and 1 cup of the flour in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave out at room temperature for several hours, until sponge doubles in volume. Tap bowl on countertop to release air (too sticky to punch!) and refrigerate overnight.
2. The next day, add remaining 4 cups of flour, sea salt, and enough warm water to make a sticky dough. Turn out onto a well-floured counter top and knead for 10 minutes, or until the dough is satiny and smooth.
3. Place dough in greased bowl and cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let sit at room temperature for 2 hours, until dough has doubled in size.
4. Divide into 6 8-ounce portions, dust with flour and use as needed; any leftover dough can be frozen.
Adapted from “Italian, My Way” by Jonathan Waxman, Simon & Schuster, 2011.