Wednesday, June 25, 2008

9. Eggplant Pizza (p. 197)

When I think of eggplant pizza, I think of little islands of deep-fried eggplant floating on a marinara sauce sea with frothy waves of melted cheese. This recipe has changed my thinking.

The Book says to save this pizza for the grown-ups, presumably because kids will balk at the absence of sauce, and the abundance of garlic. Well, the rugrats can keep their Chuck E. Cheese, this pizza's all mine.

The recipe starts with broiling eggplant slices (lightly brushed with olive oil) until they're tender and golden. The eggplant slices are then layered on the Basic Pizza Dough and topped with mozzarella and parmigiano-reggiano. Finally, garlic and red pepper flakes are quickly cooked in oil and spooned over the top. This last step gave me a little bit of trouble because The Book says to cook the garlic and red pepper "until just fragrant, 30 to 40 seconds." Well, wouldn't you know it, in just a matter of a couple of seconds, the garlic went from "fragrant" to "burnt." I know, I know, we've been through this before with the Pita Toasts, but if I learn anything through this project, I hope that it's a better sense of cooking times.

With the pizza assembled, then came the moment of truth: getting the pizza from the peel onto the blazing hot pizza stone without spilling it onto the oven floor. Kind of like that old tablecloth trick, the idea is to jerk the peel out from under the pizza without jerking the pizza along with it. (I took this "before" picture so that I'd still have something to show in case of disaster.) The Book helpfully instructs dusting the peel with cornmeal (to act like little edible ball bearings), and to do a few test jerks before assembling the pizza, just to make sure that the dough won't stick to the peel. Even after all of these precautions, I still held my breath as I gave the peel the fateful jerk. It worked!

This pizza couldn't have tasted better. The eggplant was tender and flavorful (even though the garlic was overcooked, it still had a nice garlicy taste, but not too much). The cheese was bubbly and nicely browned. The crust was crispy and chewy in all the right places.

Even microwaved for lunch the next day, this was still great. I'm looking forward to try the other pizza recipes in The Book.

Date Cooked: June 22, 2008
Degree of Difficulty: Medium
Rating: A

1 comment:

Kiki said...

I wasn't sure if it would be a compliment or an insult to say that this tasted like Bertucci's (but it was even better).