Monday, October 15, 2007

Porchetta & Roast Radicchio Pizzas - a Recipe

The fragrance of savory porchetta – slowly roasting on the spit, is one that permeates the markets of Tuscany, from the seaside villages of the Maremma all the way to Florence’s maginificent Mercato Centrale.

Porchetta (por-KET-tah) – usually a whole piglet that’s heavily salted, stuffed with fennel seed, rosemary, and garlic, and turned slowly over a wood fire – is traditionally sliced at market and served sandwiched in a roll (see the photo below). But the incredibly moist dish also makes an appearance on the region’s holiday tables as a uniquely Tuscan take on roast suckling pig.

It’s possible to buy porchetta, some made in-house, at States-side deli counters these days – a fact I delight in once the weather turns crisp. Which it finally has! We spent most of the weekend outdoors in sweaters and jackets, and by evening it’s been positively brisk.

I’ll probably write about how to make your own porchetta soon, but in the meantime, these pizzas make use of the store-bought variety. And if you can’t find any, don’t let that stop you from preparing the dish. With its long-simmered tomato sauce and caramelized radicchio, this is a fantastically aromatic recipe for celebrating the shorter days and longer light of autumn. Leftover roast pork, pepperoni, and even prosciutto all make great substitutions for the porchetta, though if you use prosciutto, wait until the pizzas come out of the oven to lay on the paper-thin slices. The tomato sauce tastes even richer the next day, freezes well, and is also lovely on pasta.

Makes 4 individual pizzas

extra virgin olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced very small or even pulsed to a coarse paste in the food processor
kosher salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled
3 cups canned chopped or crushed tomatoes
½ cup red wine
2 bay leaves
freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp granulated sugar
½ small head radicchio
1 portion pizza dough (about 20 oz. Click on the link for a recipe)
2 – 3 slices of porchetta (be sure to ask for a leaner cut if that's what you prefer, though I enjoy the smoky flavor that comes from the pork fat)
1 tsp minced fresh rosemary
scant 1 oz. pecorino romano cheese for grating

Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add a glug of olive oil and then the onion. Sprinkle with salt and sweat, stirring often, until softened and translucent. Add the garlic cloves and stir for 2 minutes more. Then add the tomatoes, the wine, and the bay leaves. Season well with pepper and a little more salt. Stir in the sugar and raise the heat to medium high. Bring to a bubble, reduce the heat to low, cover partially, and simmer for 1½ hours, stirring to the bottom often to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F.

Cut the radiccio into 4 wedges, being sure to keep a portion of the core intact on each quarter so a little section of it holds each wedge together. Cover a baking sheet in foil and drizzle with olive oil. Arrange the wedges on the foil, drizzle with more olive oil, and season with salt. Roast for 15 minutes, turn each wedge over, and roast for 30 minutes more.

When the tomato sauce is finished, correct the seasoning with more salt and pepper if necessary – tomatoes often need quite a bit of salt to bring out their savor. When ready to continue, discard the garlic cloves and bay leaves.

Put a pizza stone (if you decide to use one – it’s not imperative) in the center of the oven and preheat to 400 F.

Sprinkle a flat cookie sheet (no sides) with cornmeal. Using a sharp knife, divide the pizza dough into 4 portions and roll or stretch each one out to a circle about 6 inches in diameter.
Arrange the 4 dough circles on the cornmeal, brush with olive oil, and season with a little salt.

Ladle on no more than 2 tbsp of the tomato sauce per pizza and spread out with the back of the spoon, leaving a thin border bare around the edge of the dough. Tear over a few small pieces of porchetta. Grate over a very fine dusting of pecorino romano (see photo above). The cheese is more of a seasoning agent than a feature in the dish here – I prefer using a microplane for the task. Sprinkle over the minced rosemary, and finally, arrange a wedge of radicchio in the center of each pizza.

If you’re using a pizza stone, sprinkle it liberally with cornmeal and slide the pizzas onto the stone. Otherwise just put your cookie tray into the center of the oven. Bake for 20 - 25 minutes until the crusts are lightly golden. Serve immediately.


Joanna said...

What a great idea about the raddichio - I love rocket wilted onto a pizza, I love raddichio, so this is the perfect winter version. And porchetta - mmmm, yes please. At the party we gave for our young in the summer we had "a pig roast" which is the English version - pork, crackling, apple sauce and delicious sage and onion stuffing. All eaten crammed into a huge bun. I'm really looking forward to reading your take on it - I love pork and fennel

Joanna x

Joanne Rendell said...

i too love pizzas with rocket piled onto them. this looks amazing!

winedeb said...

I make pizza about once a month, but I must say I do not like radicchio. I have not acquired the taste for it yet, but the porchetta sounds yummy. I use a variety of Italian meats on mine and love the saltiness they impart.
I like the photo with the pigs head in it!

Gloria said...

Amanda I love pizzas, made in home of course!!! but never use raddichio I want to try. Looks wonderful these pizas, what's you think with a glass of white wine??? xxGloria

Patricia Scarpin said...

This is an interesting pizza topping, Amanda - I really like the idea of using radicchio!

african vanielje said...

Just sat down to have a quick browse while my pissaladiere cooked. How fantastic that I just discovered you and your lovely recipes. I'll be back

Figs Olives Wine said...

Joanna, thank you! Rocket wilted into pizza is one of my favorites too! The pig roast you threw sounds sublime, and I love that it's all crammed onto a big bun. That's something I must taste one of these days!

Jo, Thanks so much. Otto makes a great version of the rocket pizza - we should go soon.

Winedeb, you might enjoy this still...I roast the radicchio for a good long time first, so most of the bitterness is gone. But otherwise, I'd use rocket or escarole sliced thinly. It'd still be tasty! That photo's from one of the outer-lying markets in Florence, but the porchetta looks like that all over the region.

Gloria, I think they'd be great with white wine! Something with lots of body. What a great idea! That's what we'll have tonight - thanks!

Patricia, thank you! The bigger flavors are nice this time of year.

African vanielje, thank you and welcome! Pissaladiere is one of my favorites, and so lovely this time of year! Can't wait to check out your site too.

Anonymous said...

This looks fantastic. All your recipes look fantastic and your photos are beautiful. I'll be back to visit frequently.

George B said...

Great to find this site! Your food looks easy and tempting. Nice work.

Garrett said...

I must admit, I had never heard of porcetta before this post. Thanks for the lesson!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Anonymous, thank you and welcome! I'm so pleased you found the site, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

George, thanks so much! So glad you like!

Garrett, I'm planning to post pretty soon about how to make it yourself - you'll have to let me know what you think.

Mercedes said...

I love how you kept the radicchio whole- you have such an artistic eye for simple food. It sounds like you've got a porchetta story up your sleeve, I'll look forward to it!

swirlingnotions said...

Just when I think it can't get any better . . . and you post about porchetta. Wow you're good.

So funny, I was JUST (as in, JUST) thinking about slow roasting a pork shoulder this weekend and had a Mexican theme in mind--with tortillas and pickled onions and avocado and the like. But your post just made me swap my mental seasonings. Maybe serve it with some white beans simmered with garlic and rosemary and olive oil . . . and then make these pizzas on a special night next week . . . looking forward to it already!

Figs Olives Wine said...

Mercedes, that's such a lovely thing to say! I'm so pleased you like the pizzas, and I can't wait to hear what you think of my porchetta recipe!

Swirlingnotions, thank you! I should have known I'd have a fellow porchetta fan in you! Those white beans sound like the perfect accompaniment. What a great time of year this is, right? Slow roasted pork sounds about as good as it gets right now.

Anonymous said...

These are beautiful - I like how the cheese disappears.

Hannah said...

These looks delicious! I will definitely be making them!

The Passionate Palate said...

The combination of the porchetta and radicchio sounds like a perfect marriage. The pizzas do indeed seem perfect for fall. Brava!

I am very curious now about homemade porchetta. Is it easy?

Figs Olives Wine said...

Anonymous, thank you! I like that too! It really melts into the other ingredients and just sort of underlines their flavors without standing out on its own. Enjoy!

Hannah, thank you so much! Really hope you enjoy - let me know.

Passionate Palate, thanks so much. They are lovely on a cool evening! The porchetta can be incredibly simple. You don't have to use a whole suckling piglet, and then it's just like making any other roast pork!

sognatrice said...

I love porchetta; my great aunt makes it for Christmas every year, and I definitely miss the slice she always saved me....

Figs Olives Wine said...

Sognatrice, what a fabulous tradition! You should get her recipe!!

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