Smokey Carb on Carb
In this recipe, I use a cheese called scamorza in place of mozzarella. Scamorza is an Italian cheese that is smoked over beechwood shavings giving it a subtle, smoky flavor. It has a texture comparable to a firm, dry mozzarella, and its flavor works perfectly for a white-based (bianca) pizza alongside fried Italian sausage and roast potatoes. With a low moisture content, scamorza has excellent melting qualities, making it a perfect cheese to use in a hot Ooni pizza oven (up to 930°F [500°C]). If you can’t find scamorza, fresh mozzarella can be used as a substitute. With all my recipes, I try to add extra unique touches to make them standout. Drizzling a bit of garlic oil on this pizza right after it comes out of the oven marries all of these beautiful flavors together.
Yields1 pizza (serves 1-2)
- For the Roast Potatoes
- 2 tablespoons (30 ml) vegetable oil
- 1–2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
- Salt and pepper, as desired
For the Pizza
- 1 Italian sausage
- Extra virgin olive oil, for frying, plus extra
- 1 (275-g) ball dough
- 52 grams (½ cup) chopped smoked scamorza
- Fresh basil leaves, soaked in salt water*
- Fine semolina flour
- Drizzle of garlic oil
*Soaking the basil leaves in salt water protects them from burning, since they are added before baking.
Preheat your home oven to 400°F (200°C).
I recommend making the roast potatoes the day before and keeping them in the fridge. Add the oil to a roasting tray, and place the tray in the oven to heat up. While heating up, boil the potatoes for 4 to 5 minutes, and then drain them in a colander or sieve. As these are small, do not shake them or they will break up and lose their shape. Carefully remove the hot roasting tray from the oven and place the potatoes on it. Using a spatula, turn the potatoes over in the oil so they are well coated, and season with salt and pepper before roasting for 25 to 30 minutes. It’s important not to cook the potatoes for too long as they will be added to the pizza pre-bake and cooked further in the Ooni pizza oven. Set aside.
Fire up your Ooni pizza oven, and aim for a stone temperature of 800 to 840°F (430 to 450°C). Depending on the outside temperature, this should take approximately 20 minutes. In the colder months, an additional 10 to 15 minutes might be needed. You can check the stone temperature with an infrared thermometer.
Remove the sausage from its skin and break it into small pieces. Wet your fingers with water to prevent the sausage meat from sticking to your hands. Gently fry the pieces of sausage in a frying pan over medium heat in a little extra virgin olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes, or until they start to brown. Once cooked, remove the meat from the pan and allow it to cool.
When the stone temperature has reached approximately 750°F (400°C), stretch out the dough ball.
Add the scamorza evenly to the base, making sure not to leave any big gaps. Next, add the basil, sausage meat and roast potatoes before a drizzle of oil. It is important to leave the roast potatoes in the fridge right up until this point as using them cold will help prevent them charring too much under the flames.
Give your chosen pizza peel a light dusting of semolina flour before transferring the dough onto it. You can do this by lying the peel flat alongside the dough, and then, using both hands, gently lift the edge of the dough and slide it onto the peel. This stage can be daunting, but be confident and do it in one smooth, quick movement. After sliding the dough onto the peel, give it a final reshape. If you don’t feel confident enough to use this technique, you can place the stretched-out dough straight onto the floured peel after stretching it over your knuckles and top while it is on the peel.
When the stone temperature has reached 800 to 840°F (430 to 450°C), give the peel a little shuffle/shake to ensure the dough isn’t sticking and then launch confidently into the middle of your Ooni pizza oven. Do not take your eyes off the pizza, as a few seconds can make a big difference to the overall bake!
After approximately 20 seconds, you will begin to see the crust at the back of the oven start to brown/blister. Warm the metal peel/turning peel in the back of the oven by holding it in the flames for a few seconds. (This will help stop the peel from sticking to the bottom of the pizza.) Then, carefully slide it under the pizza and turn it 180 degrees. When the crust that is now at the back of the oven starts to brown/blister, turn the pizza again, but this time, 90 degrees. Finally, do one last 180-degree turn so that all of the pizza has an even bake. The total cooking time should be 60 to 90 seconds.
Remove the pizza from the oven and slide onto a cooling rack for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a display board. Add a drizzle of garlic oil, cut into 6 slices and serve hot.
Reprinted with permission from The Ooni Pizza Project by Scott Deley. Page Street Publishing Co. 2023. Photo credit: Nikki Deley.
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