Wednesday, October 17, 2012

butternut squash pizza with smoked mozzarella and pancetta.

It's been so long since I discussed pizza with you.  Actually, I have neglected pizza making over the course of the last couple of weeks in favor of heartier more fall like fair like braised chicken dishes and creamy cheesy lasagnas.  After the lasagna-making extravaganza last week, I had a decent amount of squash puree remaining, which left me puzzled as to what to do with it.  Should I make ravioli? Squash muffins? What about squash oatmeal?  Then I remembered one of my most favorite pizzas (I have many favorite pizzas, must compile a full list at some point.)  It involves butternut squash and smoked mozzarella and pancetta which really is one of the most lovely and amazing combinations ever.    I had recently had the "original" version of this pizza when I was on Arthur Ave. a few weeks back, it was less then stellar (it breaks my heart to say that), too much pancetta and cheese and not enough puree.  I decided to make my own version that would fulfill all my pizza needs, which is exactly what happened.  I was generous with the squash puree and light-handed with the cheese and pancetta, which resulted in a pizza that had the most balanced combination of flavors - salty pancetta, sweet squash, and spicy red pepper flakes (the holy trifecta in my book). 

Butternut Squash Pizza with Smoked Mozzarella and Pancetta

Cooking the pancetta on the pizza makes this whole pizza that much easier.  Don't worry about it not getting cooked through, I guarantee it will as long as you dice it up into ¼ inch cubes!  I also highly recommend seeking out smoked mozzarella, it brings a wonderful flavor to the dish, it almost gives the pizza a grilled outdoor taste.  I've seen smoked mozzarella at Whole Foods as well as at specialty Italian stores. 

2/3 cup butternut squash puree (If you are using store bought dough you may want some more puree)
½ pound smoked mozzarella, shredded into large chunks (I used a little less then this but figured it's always good to have some extra to snack on!)
¼ cup pancetta diced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4 teaspoons parmesan
¼ cup basil
½ recipe of my favorite pizza dough

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees (or the hottest it will go) and if you have a pizza stone, place it in the oven while it's preheating.  You want it to preheat for at least 30 minutes. 

Divide the dough in half, place one-half on a floured surface, and then flour your hands as well.  Roll or use gravity to stretch the dough into a 9 inch "circle" (I use the term circle loosely as mine always ends up misshapen which doesn't bother me at all, I like to think of it as rustic).  Remove the pizza stone from the oven if you are using it (or get a baking sheet out if you don't have a stone) and place the dough on the stone/sheet.  Top the dough with 1/3 cup of the puree (spread the puree out on the dough so the whole thing has an even layer), then top with half of the smoked mozzarella, half the pancetta, and ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes.

Bake the pizza in the oven for about 10 minutes, until the crust is golden brown, the cheese is melted, and the pancetta is cooked and crispy.  Remove the pizza from the oven top with 2 teaspoons of parmesan and half the basil.  Repeat with the other piece of dough. 

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