Courtesy of Brigit Binns, author of “The New Wine Country Cookbook” and “Eating Up the West Coast: The best road trips, recipes, and restaurants from California to Washington”
Preparation of this signature pizza from cookbook author Brigit Brinns functions wonderfully as a group activity for guests and provides a narrative for your dinner party.
“Assuming you have all the ingredients at the ready, having friends help out is great way to give them some ownership with the dishes,” she says. “It not only keeps people together, talking and laughing, but it’s this great little experience and connection they all shared and is a storyline we all can keep referring to as the party progresses.”
Straying from the usual cheese-and-tomato pie, Brigit’s signature pies include a calamari and chorizo pizza and a slab bacon and fresh fig pizza.
No wood-burning oven or pizza steel? Transfer the dough to and from the grill using a rimless cookie sheet, and grill for 1 minute per side before adding toppings. If your grill has no cover, lightly pan-fry raw items like calamari or bacon before adding to the pizza.
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
- 1 small bulb fennel, quartered, cored and slivered crosswise (greens reserved for garnish)
- 1 tablespoon medium-dry white wine, like Viognier
- Fine sea salt
- One 9-ounce dough ball, room temperature
- Rice flour and cornmeal, for shaping and cooking the pizza
- 3 ounces cured chorizo, skin removed and sliced very thinly on the diagonal
- 3 ounces shaved Manchego, or other aged sheep’s milk cheese
- 3 ounces calamari rings and tentacles
- ¼ teaspoon black lava salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Torn fresh fennel tops or dill, for garnish
In a heavy skillet over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the fennel and wine, and season lightly with salt. Cover the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 20 minutes. Uncover and cook, stirring more frequently, until most of the liquid has evaporated and the fennel is slightly golden, about 5–10 minutes. Be careful to not let it scorch.
Place a heavy baking steel on the lower oven rack of your oven and preheat it to its highest setting (usually 550˚F) for 1 hour.
With 10 minutes left in the preheating, dust a board and your hands with rice flour, then stretch and pull the dough (don’t press) into a roughly 13-inch round or oval—don’t try to make it perfect. Transfer to a wooden pizza peel (or upside-down large, rimless baking sheet) liberally sprinkled with cornmeal.
Working quickly, drizzle the dough evenly with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil and scatter the fennel evenly over the top, leaving a 1-inch border.
Arrange the chorizo evenly and top with the shaved Manchego, again leaving a 1-inch border. Scatter with the calamari rings and tentacles and black lava salt. Jiggle the dough on the peel to make sure its still mobile, then slide it onto the hot baking steel. Bake until the edges are golden and the cheese melts, about 8–11 minutes. Remove the pizza and place on a cutting board, then grind plenty of black pepper over it. Garnish with the fennel tops, slice and enjoy. Makes one 13-inch pizza. Recipe may be doubled.
Stone fruit and pear flavors, along with the rich, creamy palate of this exceptional Italian white hold up to the spicy chorizo. Fresh acidity and mineral quality perfectly compliment the calamari.