x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Marco Pierre White's pizza margherita

Marco Pierre White: pizzas are heavenly - the thin crust with the brown, almost burnt crust, the tasty tomatoes and melted cheese, just utter heaven, and what could be simpler?

Pizza margherita.
Pizza margherita.

I know you think of me as a man of exceptionally refined tastes, being a three-star Michelin chef and all that, but I like the simple things in life. I am not one to splash out on fancy cars (I can't drive for a start), or posh clothes, or even holiday homes around the globe like so many of my friends. I am happiest in the countryside, fishing or stalking, or just being with good friends, chatting and catching up.

So, dear readers, do not be shocked by this week's recipe, for it is a simple offering - a humble pizza. If you go to my restaurant, you will get a posher version, but this is one you can make at home with the children. Watch them devour it, for they will love the flavour.

To me, the key to a great pizza is the base, and what you need to do here is to make sure it is super-thin. It is easily done - once you have it on the baking tray, just keep spreading it out until you feel it is as thin as possible.

Remember, the base will rise slightly when cooked so you can afford to be radical here.

I would (as loyal readers will remember) suggest you use buffalo mozzarella; it just tastes so much better, and the texture is much nicer. Frankly, the other stuff is a bit like rubber by comparison. Sort of like the difference between Edam and Cheddar, and who eats Edam, for heaven's sake? Why would you bother?

If you want to put some other ingredients such as chicken on top (cooked, obviously) or anything else that takes your fancy, then go for it. But I'm a strictly margherita man, always have been. Why add to something that's perfect?

I remember the first time I tasted a real Neapolitan pizza margherita, in Naples (funnily enough), at a pizzeria called the Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba. It is said to be the oldest pizzeria in the city and dates to 1738, when it produced pizzas for peddlers to sell on the streets.

The pizzas are heavenly - the thin crust with the brown, almost burnt crust, the tasty tomatoes and melted cheese, just utter heaven, and what could be simpler?

 

MAKE IT YOURSELF

Pizza margherita

 

INGREDIENTS

For the dough:

7g fresh yeast

700ml water

20ml olive oil

1.2kg white flour

20g salt

5g sugar

 

For the topping:

800g tinned tomato pulp

10g salt

10ml olive oil

5g pepper

10g dry oregano

600g buffalo mozzarella cheese, shredded

20 basil leaves

 

METHOD

1. Using a large bowl, dissolve the yeast in the water and oil at room temperature.

2. On a sanitised marble or stainless steel table make a well in the flour and sprinkle with the salt and sugar.

3. Pour the water-oil-yeast mixture into the flour and start to stir with the help of a fork until it begins to become a batter. Work the dough until it gets smooth.

4. Divide the dough in two, grease two oven trays with olive oil and spread out the dough on them (it can be helpful to oil the hands as well to avoid the dough being sticky). Push the dough into the corner of the tray.

5. Cover with a clean kitchen cloth and set aside in a warm place (about 35°C) for about an hour.

6. Preheat the oven to 200°C.

7. Place the tomato pulp in a bowl, season with salt, pepper, olive oil and oregano and mix.

8. After the proofing of the pizza dough, take out the kitchen cloth and spread the dough with the tomato pulp.

9. Cook the pizza for 20 minutes and take out.

10. Sprinkle with the mozzarella and put it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

11. Sprinkle with basil leaves and serve hot.

 

MAKES 14-inch pie