Monday, August 12, 2013

A Pizza With Punch - Easy Lemon Pizza "Sorrentina"

Lemon what?
That's the type of reaction I've been getting all week when telling folks about a recipe for Lemon Pizza that I was planning to try. It may even be the most controversial dish on Neurotic Kitchen so far. But that's ok, because I love a good controversy! 

Lemon Pizza - Our Version of the "Sorrentina" Lemon Pie at NYC's Keste, Photo: NK  

If anything, I learned a little about myself in this process. Specifically, I realized how grossly I'd misjudged people's views on lemons. I thought everyone felt the same way about them that I do. "It sounds interesting but I don't get it, " my coworker mused. "Lemon is more of a seasoning than a food," she added. Someone else asked, "do you actually eat the lemon rind?" Even my other half, who is generally adventurous with food, was skeptical. Out of fear that he'd refuse to eat much of the finished product and would then proceed to give me his sad-faced I'm still hungry look, I had a traditional pizza ready to fire up if the lemon version flopped. After about the fifth person to express shock and awe, I finally got it;  

I love lemons in an unnatural way. I am an island of lemon love. 

Ok, maybe myself and a few hundred Southern Italians also inhabit this Island. And surely a bunch of foodies. And Mario Batali, he's there too, making us all his salad made of lemons

From a young age, I would chew lemons as if they were a regular fruit, so for me, the idea of biting into one is more my dream than a nightmare. The tart flavors of the world (and of course, the spicy) have always been my favorites. I even have a blog post called Lemon Lust. Truth is, there are lots of folks that like lemons, but not all that many who think about enjoying them in non-traditional applications, much less chewing through their rinds on top of a pizza.

Today's Lemon Pizza recipe was not my idea in the least. I wish I had come up with such a novel topping! Maybe there's still time? Wait, Mario Batali is on a proverbial island with me. We can brainstorm! Proverbially. Instead, the inspiration for tonight's meal was actually a fantastic Wall Street Journal piece (check it out HERE). Upon reading it, I knew immediately that I would definitely be sampling this intriguing recipe modeled after "The Sorrentina" Lemon Pie that can be found at Keste, (an NYC-based Neapolitan Pizza place that's been on my "must-try" list forever). 

The WSJ article does a great job of explaining how such unexpected flavors really do work together. My light adaptation of the recipe is made with store-bought dough and uses a Pizza Stone. I've also changed the cooking time slightly to make up for my oven only being capable of heating to a top temperature of 525. Finally, I opted to use regular Buffalo Mozzarella because I prefer it to the smoked version. If you have time to make your own dough according to the original recipe, by all means, you should do so! But if you are looking for a quick version of this unexpectedly fabulous pie, I recommend you give ours a go. As for the results, I bet that this pizza will make a believer of even the biggest lemon skeptic. I, for one, will be headed to Keste soon to try the real thing. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Things to note about this recipe - and eating lemons:

Soaking the Lemon Slices, Photo: NK
1. Lemons sweeten and mellow when cooked at high heat.

2. Slicing lemons VERY thin cuts down on their intensity in a good way.

3. Finally, the recipe calls for you to soak the lemon slices for 15 minutes. Don't skip this step as it lessens the tartness considerably. 

Equipment you'll need:
A Pizza Stone 
Parchment Paper

Lemon Pizza "Sorrentina"Inspired by Keste / Roberto Caporuscio
Adapted from Gold
Yield: Makes three 8 Inch Pizzas, Serves 4-6
1 16 Ounce Round of Pizza Dough (preferably purchased at a pizza shop) or make your own 10 hrs ahead according to the original article.

Preparing the Pie, Photo: NK
2 Organic Lemons, rinds well washed and sliced into VERY thin slices (and again into half moons, if you prefer)

15-18 Basil Leaves

9 Ounces Buffalo Mozzarella, thinly sliced

Extra Virgin Olive Oil,

Black Pepper & Sea Salt

Flour, for rolling the dough

Equipment: Parchment Paper & Pizza Stone

Position a rack on the uppermost part of your oven and place your Pizza Stone on top of it. Turn oven on and set it to the highest temperature possible - usually between 525 and 550. Allow the Pizza Stone to heat for 30 minutes.

Soak Lemon Slices in a bowl of water for 15 minutes. When finished, remove and pat them dry with paper towel.

Meanwhile, flour a clean surface as well as your hands. Take the Pizza Dough Round and divide into even thirds, cutting through with a knife. Roll each third into a ball and stretch each until you have three round pizza crusts.

Place Pies on parchment paper so you can easily transfer them onto the Pizza Stone (unless you have a pizza peel). Note: you'll likely be only able to fit 2 pies at a time on your stone.If so, you can always go back to cook the third pie in a second batch.

Top the Pizzas:
Arrange Buffalo Mozzarella evenly on the dough rounds, leaving space at the edges for the crust to rise - you should use about 3 Ounces of Cheese per pie. 

Next, add about 6 Lemon Slices per pie.

Tuck in 5-6 Basil Leaves on each pie as well.

Now drizzle each pie with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, making sure that the edges have been oiled as well (this will help to create a nicely browned crust). I took a paper towel and spread the Oil around the crust edge to be sure.

Finally, sprinkle pies with a tiny bit of Sea Salt and some Black Pepper.

Carefully pick up the parchment and move it and the Pizzas onto the Pizza Stone in the oven to cook. 

Cook Times:
For an oven at 525 - cook for 7 minutes

For an oven at 550 - cook for 6 minutes

When cooking is done, turn on your Broiler and allow crust to brown 30-60 seconds (watch it like a hawk) until the pizzas take on some nice color. Remove from the oven and serve.

Cook any remaining pizza in the same manner.


The Main Event! Lemon Pizza, Photo: NK

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