It’s that time of year again, YYC Pizza Week returns to Calgary offering up pizza lovers all kinds of delicious and unique pizza creations from Calgary restaurants. Now going strong in it’s third year as a Calgary-wide food festival, the event which runs from Friday, September 23 until Sunday October 2 raising money for two local and worthwhile charities; Calgary Meals on Wheels and 100 Men Calgary.
Now, it’s also MY third year of participating in YYC Pizza Week’s annual Food Blogger Pizza Challenge and this year I am super excited to hear that the challenge has grown to 14 bloggers. Choosing the ingredients and letting my creativity fly are two of my very favourite things to do (I also like smack talking with John Leung, a 2 year veteran). I like a good challenge and having 13 other participants really ups the game this year. You might remember my previous year’s Food Blogger Challenge pizzas; 2014’s Sweet 16 Pizza and 2015’s Pumpkin Spice Pizza. The Sweet 16 was a winner but the Pumpkin Spice Pizza was not. I think I may have scared some voters away with the Pumpkin Spice reference even though the flavours were not really what goes into a regular Pumpkin Spice anything…
So, it’s 2016 and as I am typing this, I can hear my pizza bubbling away in the oven. It was a bit labour intensive, but we’ll just call The Sky High Pizza Pie a labour of love! It’s more than just a deep dish pizza, it’s a pizza filled with layers of pasta and meat; it’s a lasagne!
First things first, let’s work a little on our Italian shall we? There are some pretty intense words I am going to use and you should know how to pronounce them in your head as you are reading. Let’s start with one of the challenge ingredients; Guanciale. For heaven’s sake, don’t google how to say it because those robot voices just cannot mimic the way a true Italian speaks. Say it now, “Gwan cha lay” If you still aren’t sure, head down to any Italian deli (like the one at Lina’s Italian Market) and they will correct you! Guanciale is a very fatty piece of Italian cured meat prepared from pork jowl, or cheeks. I honestly had no idea what to do with it, but I had a good chat with Neil McCue, chef/owner of Whitehall Restaurant here in Calgary. We threw around some ideas and when I mentioned I might just render it and use the fat to cook onions, he suggested I used it in the actual pizza dough instead of olive oil. So I did.
The next thing I did was make a Bolognese. Say it, “bo-lo-NYeh-say“! Making the Bolognese begins with a Soffritto (sohf/FREET/toh) using three traditional ingredients; onions,carrots, and celery. This trio is diced, then added to the pan and allowed to sweat until they are soft. Next, I added some brown crimini mushrooms (another challenge ingredient) to the soffritto and allowed it all to cook further. Once, finished, I scraped it all into a bowl and began to brown the Italian Sausage (the third challenge ingredient) by taking the meat mixture out of the sausage casings. I used a ratio of two spicy Italian Sausages to four regular Italian Sausages. When the sausage was cooked through, I added the veggies/mushrooms, a jar of my homemade passata (tomato purée), and some fresh basil chiffonade (that’s a French word for finely sliced). Then I let it gently simmer for a couple of hours with the lid on.
So, if you are following, I have the Guanciale pizza dough and the Bolognese on the go. Then, I made some fresh pasta. I’ve pretty much used every kitchen appliance by this point; the KitchenAid mixer, the food processor, the pasta roller…
After the pizza dough has doubled in size, I give it a punch down, then line a 9 inch spring form pan with baking paper and grease it with the guanciale fat for good measure. Rolling out the dough was super easy because it was so fluffy. It went into the pan nicely, then I lined it with foil and blind baked it (using chickpeas) for about 20 minutes at 350 F. I took out the foil and chickpeas and baked it for another ten minutes.
Then it was time for the lasagne construction. Did you notice I didn’t say ‘Lasagna’? That’s because in Italian they say lasagne instead of lasagna. Any how, I built the layers up, with the last layer being entirely of fresh basil topped with pasta, sauce, and finally…cheese!
Concerned that the top would get too browned during the final bake, I covered the top with greased foil, removing it for the last 15 minutes of cooking so the cheese would brown.
Sky High Pizza Pie
Sky High Pizza Pie
- FOR THE DOUGH
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 package active dry yeast (or 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast)
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 3 tbsp liquid (but not hot) rendered guanciale fat
- FOR THE BOLOGNESE
- 1 cup small diced onion
- 1 cup small diced celery
- 1 cup small dice carrot
- 2 tsp olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves; minced
- 2 spicy Italian sausages taken out of casings
- 4 regular Italian sausages taken out of casings
- 30 brown crimini mushrooms finely chopped in the food processor
- 2 cups passata
- 4 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 cup fresh basil chiffonade
- FOR THE PASTA
- 1 2/3 cups semolina flour
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 egg; slightly beaten
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- TO ASSEMBLE
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- 2 cups shredded Caciocavallo (or mozzarella)
- 1 cup finely shredded Grana Padano
- 1/2 cup passata
MethodFOR THE DOUGH
Sprinkle yeast over the surface of the warm water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Mix 2 cups flour, sugar, and salt in a mixer bowl. Add fat and yeast water, then mix well. Knead dough until it becomes smooth, using some extra flour if needed. Lightly grease a metal bowl and place dough inside, turning it to coat with grease. Cover with a cloth and let rise for an hour in a warm spot until it doubles in size. Punch it down, roll it out and arrange in spring from pan. Grease a sheet of aluminum foil and press lightly over the dough so that the dough remains on the sides of the pan. Fill with beans, etc. to weigh the dough down. Bake in a 350 F oven for 20 minutes; remove beans and foil, then bake for another 15 minutes.
FOR THE BOLOGNESE Add olive oil, onion, celery, and carrot to a large pan. Sweat until they become slightly soft and translucent. Add garlic, then mushrooms and sweat further until there is no longer any water coming out of the mushrooms. Transfer to a bowl. Add Italian sausage meat to the pan and break up the large chunks using a spoon until they are quite small. When the meat has cooked through, add the vegetables/mushrooms back in, followed by the passata, tomato paste, and basil. Cover and gently simmer for 2-3 hours.
FOR THE PASTA On a clean counter, mix semolina flour with salt. Mix water, egg, and oil together in a cup. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour the wet ingredients in. Mix with hands until the dough comes together and becomes elastic. Cover and let rest on counter for ten minutes before rolling out.
TO ASSEMBLE THE PIE Spread a third of the Bolognese along the base of the pizza crust. Cover with pasta sheets cut to fit the round pan. Add another Bolognese layer, then pasta. One more Bolognese, then arrange 2 cups fresh basil leaves on the surface, cover with another layer of pasta. Spread the 1/2 cup passata over top, then top with cheese.
THE FINAL BAKE Grease a sheet of Aluminum foil then place it loosely over top of the cheese. Bake at 350 F for 40 minutes, then carefully remove the foil and bake for another 15 minutes. Let rest slightly so it slices nicely.