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Quattro Stagione Pizza


Joe:  In my opinion, there is nothing that beats a perfect pizza.  Possibly my earliest foody memory (after eating Arancini on a ferry between my Grandpa's hometown of Villa San Giovanni to Messina when two) is my first wood fired pizza.  Ever since that moment in Emilia Romagna, 1994, I have been trying to find pizza with a similar taste, the closest being a small back street trattoria in Bologna (food lovers' paradise) where my cousin lives.

90 per cent of the time however, finding pizza of this quality is unachievable, though there is some great places to get pizza in the UK. I think the key to great pizza is fresh dough, rolled out super thin, with just a little bit of intensely sweet passata (pizza sauce), a little buffalo mozzarella and simple toppings.  A really popular topping in Italy is Prosciutto Crudo (Parma ham) and chopped hard-boiled egg, something you don't see too often, but something I have included on my Stagione.

This Pizza really has something for everyone, although traditionally comprised of four parts (hence Quattro.)  You can divide the pizza into as many parts as you want, doing as many toppings as you can fit or afford.  It's great to get your mates involved in the dough making procedure and create their own toppings, This pizza is cheaper, tastier, potentially bigger and better than any of that greasy rubbish you'll get from the kebab house which claims to do pizza as well.


DOUGH (for the recipe, go to bread making)

If you aren't going to make the dough you can buy decent pizza base mixes from the supermarket.

Passata sauce (This comes in big glass bottles located near the canned tomatoes, I use this over chopped tomatoes as it doesn't need sieving to achieve that smooth texture your going to need)

Buffalo Mozzarella (Buffalo Mozzarella is the white bally stuff, try and get as fresh as possible as there is much more flavor, (some of it can be quite flavorless), if you can't get that, then buy the cows mozzarella, this is harder and a bit saltier, and usually comes grated.)

Splash of Olive Oil

2 cloves of Garlic

Splash of Balsamic Vinegar

Handful of Fresh Basil

Handful of Green/Black olives

½ Red, ½ Yellow Pepper

Handful of Rocket

Handful of Parmesan Cheese

2 strips of Parma Ham

One Egg

Handful of Mushrooms

2 Artichokes (You can buy these preserved in oil)

2 spoons of sugar

Salt and Pepper



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I'd start by making the Napoli sauce, which is best made in advance as you want it cool when ready to put on the pizza base mix.  Put some good olive oil in the pan with some finely sliced garlic.  (I also like to add a bit of flaked chili, Calabrian roots I guess).


Now add your Passata, salt and pepper, sugar, bit of basil and a splash of balsamic vinegar.  Allow to bubble and reduce for twenty minutes then just let it sit on the hob on a low heat for another twenty minutes.  Once done, stick it in the fridge, you wont need it until it's cool.


Sort your toppings out.  Preparation is good with a pizza as everything really needs to come together quite easily.  Hard boil an egg (5 minutes) and slice.  Chop or stone your olives, your choice.


For the peppers we are going to make a kind of pepperonata.  Heat some oil and thin garlic in a pan and add the peppers.  Pour over a good (and I mean good) slug of balsamic vinegar and throw in a bit more chopped garlic.  Cover the pan with a lid and let the peppers soften for about 20-30 minutes on a low heat.



Sort your dough out.  If you've bought pizza dough then follow the instructions, it should be around 20 minutes worth of preparation.  If you've made your dough, once you've let it rise (should have doubled in size,) knock back (beat the bread to a doughy pulp to get the remaining air out) and place on a floured surface, roll out to a desired size or however big it'll fit in the oven.  Don't try any of that fancy stuff you see at certain high street pizza places where they chuck it in the air, as you'll be picking dough out the light fittings for months, but by all means, form the base with your hands.  It does not have to be a perfect circle, pizza looks better when it's a bit raggedy.



Take the chilled Passata sauce and ladle it onto the base, spreading it so the sauce is quite thin.  Don't have a thick layer of sauce; you should still be able to see the doughy base. Rip up your mozzarella and chuck it on.



Now add your toppings.  In one corner, put Parma ham and chopped egg, in the other put your peperronata.  On the remaining corners, put your mushrooms and artichokes with some olives and on the final corner, just keep it as a simple margherita. with a bit of torn basil.


Stick it into a hot oven and cook until the crusts are golden, with the toppings melted into the cheese.


Once out put some lightly dressed rocket on the peppers and shave some parmesan over the pizza.


TIP:  What you cook your pizza on can influence how your pizza will turn out.  I've found that a pizza stone works best; baking trays are ok, if you've got a big square or rectangle one that's good.  I've bought pretty cheap baking trays which are round with holes in the base.  These are excellent as they cook the pizza from the base which is essential to avoid a soggy bottom.  If you have none of these, you can put foil over an oven rack and puncture with holes, this works quite well.

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