I’ve taken the filling out of the sausage casings for good reason. If the sausage is merely sliced, the casings can have the texture of rubber bands when cooked quickly at high heat. It’s also easier to distribute the sausage evenly on the pizza. If fresh artichokes aren’t available, there are good Italian artichokes in oil available at specialist stores.
Quality meat and vegetables make all the difference in this flavourful pizza.
- 250 g (9 oz) ball of basic pizza dough (recipe here), shaped
- 120 g (4¼ oz) fior di latte mozzarella, thinly sliced
- 3 cooked artichokes (see Note), cut into quarters
- 40 g (1½ oz/¾ cup) grated parmesan cheese
- 140 g (5 oz) best-quality Italian-style pork and fennel sausages, meat removed from casings
- Sea salt
- 80 g (3 oz/¹⁄³ cup) buffalo milk ricotta cheese
- 8–10 fennel fronds
- 1 kg (2 lb 4 oz) ripe tomatoes
- Sea salt
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Heating time: 20 minutes
Makes one 30 cm (12 inch) pizza.
For the tomato fillets
Plunge the tomatoes into boiling salted water for 20–30 seconds, then plunge into iced water. After 5 minutes, they’ll peel easily. Peel, halve and scoop out all seeds with a spoon. Cut each half in two, then each quarter into fillets. Unused fillets will keep for 2–3 days, refrigerated.
Place a large tile in your oven for the pizza, then turn the oven up to preheat to full heat (without using any fan-forced function) for at least 20 minutes (see Note). Scatter mozzarella over the pizza base, leaving the edges clear to about 3–4 cm (1½ inches). Distribute the artichoke quarters and tomato fillets over the top. Sprinkle with parmesan and sausage meat. Season with salt and place in the oven for 3–5 minutes until cooked (see Note), turning for even colour. Once out of the oven, use a teaspoon to place small blobs of buffalo ricotta here and there. Finally, place the fennel fronds evenly over the top.
• Choose artichokes that are firm, without blemishes and have heads that are full and tight. To prepare you’ll need a pan of cold water with the juice of a lemon squeezed into it to prevent discolouring. With a paring knife, take the top 2–3 cm (1 inch) of the artichoke clean off, then begin paring around the heart until you reach the tender inner leaves. Leave about 4–5 cm (2 inches) of stalk at the base, this part being quite delicious when cooked, and trim away any leaves.
As each artichoke is prepared, place it in the pan of lemon water. You will notice that the artichokes float and the topmost ones sit above the water – weight down with a plate so they don’t discolour. Bring the water to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for 10–15 minutes until tender. Test for ‘doneness’ by pushing a knife into one of the artichokes – there should be just a hint of resistance. Drain and cool the artichokes completely. Any tough outer leaves can be removed and the stem trimmed. Store the artichokes in jars under olive oil for up to 14 days in the refrigerator or slice or quarter and use within 3–4 days.
• When it comes time to cooking, Stefano's suggestion is to find a large terracotta tile that fits onto your oven rack. Place the rack on the bottom rung of your oven and the tile on top, giving you plenty of room above to manipulate the pizza. When the pizza is ready, use a floured paddle to take it from the bench on to the tile. Close the oven immediately.
• At around 250–280°C (480–535°F) a pizza takes 3–5 minutes to cook, depending on your oven temperature. It will have a crisp, bread-like texture and should be no less delicious than the wood-fired version.
Recipe from New Pizza by Stefano Manfredi, Murdoch Books, hb, $39.99. Photography © Bree Hutchins.