We went to visit Pancho, a childhood friend of Guillermo's. Pancho owns a fruit drying company-they dry, package and export dried plums, apricots, and tomatoes (among other things). The last time Pancho and Guillermo saw each other was our wedding day in September of 2006. The conversation went like this:
(after some greetings, hugging and back-slapping...)
Pancho: "So, it's great to see you! But, Guille, I have one thing to ask you, man."
Pancho: "What's that thing there between your chest and your lap?!"
Guillermo and I looked, puzzled, at his belly for a split second before bursting into laughter. It's true-since we got married, he has gotten a little round belly. We could blame it on the 'sympathy weight' so often gained by husbands when their wives are pregnant, or on the fact that with a toddler we most often collapse, exhausted, into bed at night, and don't have time to go to the gym, but I'd rather blame the appearance of Guillermo's paunch on this pizza. (Because it's really, really good.)
Pizza is one of the pillars of Argentinean cuisine, found on most every menu in restaurants, and it's made in households across the country. The crust is thick and doughy, and the toppings are inventive. I recently got an email from a reader-a native of Argentina. She said "We are such a potpourri! Do we really have a cuisine of our own-a true Argentinean cuisine?!"
And while it's true that Argentina's recipes and culture are very much influenced by the countries (and cultures) they originally came from, Argentinean pizza (like many of their recipes) is a unique experience unto itself. Because it's topped with things like hard boiled egg, sardines, ham, whole green olives, roasted red peppers, Roquefortcheese, hearts of palm, and fresh tomatoes. Or a combination of different cheeses, or no sauce but caramelized onions and cheese (called Fugazza-it's simple and sensational). Completely unique, and completely Argentinean.
Try these combinations for a winning Argentinean-style pizza:
Four cheese: Mozzarella, Provolone, Swiss, and Jack cheeses
Mozzarella, Ham, Green Olives
Mozzarella, Green Olives, Fresh Tomato Slices
Pesto, Fresh Tomato Slices, Hearts of Palm, Hard Boiled Egg, Provolone
Mozzarella, Ham, Roasted Red Pepper
You get the idea, right? So without further ado, here's the recipe for the crust, followed by the recipe for the sauce.
Receta para Masa Casera para Pizza
Recipe for Homemade Pizza Dough
A note about this dough: it is not like typical dough-it will be more like a batter, and should be poured into the pizza pan.
1 1/3 cup lukewarm water
1 teaspoon active dry yeast (or 1 packet)
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Put the lukewarm water in a bowl with the sugar and the yeast and mix until the yeast is dissolved. (If you are using a stand mixer with a metal bowl, rinse the bowl with hot water first to warm it up.) When the yeast begins to form bubbles (about 5-10 minutes) add the oil and the salt. Mix in the flour gradually (if using a stand mixer, use the paddle blade and mix in the flour while the mixer is running.) Mix until well incorporated, but it's not necessary to knead this dough. Cover with a damp towel and put in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
Generously oil a round pizza pan. When the dough is ready, pour it into the pan, and spread the dough evenly around in the pan with a spoon or a spatula. It will be sticky! Put the pan in the oven for 8-10 minutes-just long enough to make the dough firm enough to put the toppings on, but not long enough to form a crust.
Top with sauce of your choice (tomato, pesto, olive oil) and toppings of your choice-don't forget to sprinkle the top with oregano! We did half mozzarella, hearts of palm and Roquefort and half just mozzarella.
Bake until cheese has melted and is brown on top.
Receta para Salsa de Tomates para Pizzas
Recipe for Tomato Sauce for Pizza
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
oregano, to taste
1 large can (28 oz.) crushed tomatoes
Put the olive oil in a medium skillet and heat over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until golden. Add the tomatoes and stir until incorporated. Mix in remaining ingredients. Raise heat briefly, bringing the sauce to a simmer, and then lower it and let simmer, uncovered, for about a half hour or until it has thickened.