Thursday, May 1, 2008

Potato Pancetta Parmesan Pizza

No pickles, though. I’m only willing to take alliteration so far. Nothing against pickles. I love pickles. But maybe (I won't rule it out completely) not on my pizza.

In Rome, one day we went from the Aventine to Trastevere. For anyone acquainted with Rome, this meant that quite possibly the most efficient route was down the back of the Aventine and onto via Marmorata, past Testaccio. Which also meant past Volpetti, a famous deli. It would probably sound fancier to say food emporium or boutique or something like that (and given the prices of some of the wines and cheeses there, fancier wording might be appropriate). However, the most relevant thing was that we bought sublime potato pizza from there.

It had bits of pancetta, and a little bit of cheese, just enough to add some silky unctuousness without overwhelming the texture of the potatoes and pancetta. It was remarkably delicious pizza. When we got home, I wanted, of course, to recreate the potato pizza, as well as a pancetta and cherry tomato pizza we’d had several times. The latter was easy to recreate. A good pizza dough (I tried out the recipe Alice Waters has for one in The Art of Simple Food, which made for a good pizza dough), tomato sauce, cherry tomatoes, pancetta and just a tiny bit of red pepper flakes, and it was fantastic. Presto, voila, delicious.

The potato pizza, however, is going to be more challenging. It’s not that what we made wasn’t good. It was, indeed, good. Very good, in fact.

But it wasn’t sublime. I needed to do some reading, and thinking.

The Silver Spoon is handy for when you flounder. It is a terrific reference if you want to know what the basic architecture of a dish is. But, the same thing that is a strength is also a weakness, because The Silver Spoon gives no illumination into what the key is in a given dish— the writers of it simply lay out the facts, without interpretation. Still, it was helpful to see that in plain potato pizza (no pancetta, which, although we only used a small amount, is a wonderful addition) they suggest the use of taleggio, which I hadn’t thought of.

So, someday, there will be a recipe on potato pizza. But… not today. Not yet. I have to work this one out. And since I would have a mutiny on my hands if I cooked the same thing every night in a compulsive attempt to fine-tune it perfectly, it will probably be a while before I come forth with a perfect potato pizza recipe. But I will. I’m going to be the MacArthur of potato pancetta pizza. I will return, and I will be victorious.
Also, if you have any suggestions for making the perfect potato pizza, I'm all ears.

5 comments: said...

Potato pizza has never called out to me.... but everyone that I know that has tasted it, loves it. Who knew?

Magua said...

Speaking for the peasants, the chances of mutiny if you keep making potato pancetta pizza every night are actually very, very low.

cook eat FRET said...

i got nothing
but i, as usual, thoroughly enjoyed the post

i'm pretty checked out on pasta making though
and veal stock

potato pizza? i'm counting on you.

homebody at heart said...

Do you think that they roasted the potatoes first? I love roasted potatoes in Italy. I can make them here but they are not quite as tasty. Maybe it is the potato variety, or the olive oil.
What about a recipe for a capriciosa pizza. I had the best in Naples. I have to go back because I forgot exactly what was on it. Artichoke hearts, olives (?), mushrooms (?) prosciutto cotto, I think. Yumm.

Meg said...

Hmm. Well, I posted comments and apparently they were eaten.

Joe- potato pizza, I have to admit, does not sound all that appealing. But done well, it is addictively good.

Mogs- good to know. Maybe I'll try again Monday.

Claudia- I think, if I were you, I'd be ordering take-out for a few nights.

I liked the potato pizza we made, but... as I said, I need to tinker with it. I seem to have the full support of my family for perfecting it, so who knows, maybe I'll turn up the just-right recipe sooner rather than later.

Homebody- My hunch is that they parboiled the potatoes first, rather than roasted. Capriciosa is pretty fantastic, isn't it? I think that definitely, in the name of serious culinary inquiry, that you should venture back to Naples to confirm the precise ingredient mixture (but I think you nailed the list).