Pizza with mozzarella, chorizo, caramelised fennel and onions, rocket and Parmesan
- Makes: 3
- Cooking Time: 10 mins
- Course: Main Course
- Cuisine: Italian
- Pizza dough – I find this quantity makes about three good-sized bases:
- 200ml warm water
- 175ml beer, at room temperature (I use Smithwicks Pale Ale)
- 7g (1 sachet) fast-action yeast
- 50ml olive oil
- 600g Italian “00” flour, or strong white flour
- 2 tsp salt
- For the sauce:
- 2 cans of chopped tomatoes, drained with the liquid reserved
- 2 large cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
- Dash of vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- Olive oil
- For the caramelised onion and fennel topping (enough for one pizza):
- 1 medium to large onion, thinly sliced
- Half a bulb of fennel, thinly sliced
- Olive oil
- Balsamic vinegar
- Additional toppings:
- 1 ball of fresh mozzarella per pizza
- Sliced chorizo, to taste
To make the dough, pour the water and beer into a large mixing bowl, then whisk in the yeast. Add the oil, flour and salt and mix. Leave the dough for 10 minutes then lightly knead it for 10 seconds on an oiled worktop, stopping when it starts to stick. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave it for 90 minutes in a coolish room.
Oil the worktop once more, and shape the dough out into a rectangle, dimpling it with your fingers. Pull one side of the dough out and fold it back in upon itself. Do the same with the other side, then rotate the dough through 90 degrees and repeat the dimple, stretch and fold steps once more. This process is important as it adds air bubbles and makes the pizza lighter. Return the dough to the bowl to rest for 30 minutes.
Divide the dough into the number of bases you plan to make and, with a little flour over your hands and the top of the dough, shape each piece on the worktop so the outer surface becomes taut and the dough forms a ball. Place on a large floured tray, cover with a cloth and leave for at least 30 minutes.
To make the sauce, heat a very generous glug of olive oil in a heavy cast-iron pan. Once it is moderately hot, add the pulped garlic and cook for 30 seconds or so, taking care not to burn it.
Add the drained tomatoes and salt and pepper, turn up the heat and cook for three minutes or so. Add the reserved liquid from the drained tomatoes, adjusting the heat to get what I describe as a vigorous, but not too violent, bubbling. Add a good dash of white or red wine vinegar, and reduce the mixture for a few more minutes.
At this stage, I take a potato masher to the pan and gently mash the larger pieces to get a rough consistency. You can reduce the mixture further over a moderate heat.
To make the caramelised onion and fennel, heat a glug of olive oil in a heavy saucepan to a moderate heat. Add the sliced onion and fennel, salt and pepper and coat with the oil. Continue stirring, as the onions begin to brown and stick to the pan. After between 15 and 20 minutes you you should reach a decent brown, sticky consistency. At this stage, add a dash of Balsamic vinegar and cook for another minute or so.
I use roughly one ball of supermarket fresh mozzarella per pizza. The trick is to take it from its water packet about the same time as you begin to make your dough. Slice it into rounds and leave to dry in a colander for a few hours.
Preheat your oven to as high a temperature as it will go, normally 240-250 degrees Celsius. Most of us don’t have pizza stones – so use a well-floured baking or pizza tray.
Flatten your dough on a floured work surface – it’s okay to cheat with a rolling pin – to fit your tray. Spread the tomato sauce on with the back of a large spoon, and add the toppings, cheese first then chorizo and finally the onion/fennel mix.
Put it in the oven and cook for 10 minutes or so, or until the pizza crust is turning golden brown.
Remove the pizza from the oven, quickly grate some fresh Parmesan on it, and sprinkle with rocket. Serve piping hot.