By Lori Rice Photo credit: Kathy Hunt
Simple pizza is highly regarded as the best pizza. For some, it is the only pizza. Few pies can be considered simpler or more traditional than one topped with thinly sliced prosciutto, but as with most foods, simple and traditional call for innovation. The combination of crust blistered in a wood-fired oven with tangy tomato sauce and salty prosciutto is elegantly modest, which begs bloggers, book authors, and restaurant owners to add a personal touch.
Pizza recipes across the U.S. are not strangers to Italian prosciutto. But as food innovators strive to set trends and create the next new twist for longtime favorites, prosciutto is getting paired with the unexpected and the almost unbelievable. It’s generating a prosciutto pizza trend that is anything but traditional with flavors that may change how some diehard fans feel about a simple pizza.
Brit + Co is a popular media company that enables creativity through inspirational content. This includes mouthwatering recipes, and their take on a prosciutto pizza stands out with a vibrant lemon twist. The Prosciutto and Lemon Pizza adds a burst of refreshing citrus flavor that balances the saltiness of prosciutto. In this recipe, a crispy cast-iron crust is topped with prosciutto di San Daniele and thin slices of Meyer lemon. A handful of spicy arugula and a blend of cheeses finish off the pie before its drizzled with olive oil and served.
Award-winning cookbook author and owner of Ken’s Artisan Pizza, Ken Forkish knows his way around a pizza oven. His restaurant has turned out expertly prepared pizzas to loyal fans around Portland, Oregon since 2006. In his new book, The Elements of Pizza (Ten Speed Press, 2016), he shares a recipe for the Brooklyn Hot Honey Pie. He credits the inspiration for this delicious pizza to Paulie Gee’s pizzeria in Brooklyn. Ken’s version begins with a tomato sauce topped by Pecorino Romano and whole-milk mozzarella cheeses. Instead of the expected fresh or caramelized onions, this pizza takes a turn for the better with a sprinkle of tangy pickled onions. It’s finished with a layer of prosciutto and a drizzle of sweet honey. A dash of chile flakes add the final touch.
If there is anything more decadent than drizzling a meal with honey, it must be topping it with an egg. Whether it’s a burger, noodle bowl, or slow cooked beans, add an egg on top and it transforms a food from ordinary to indulgent. This holds true for Vicky Cassidy’s modern version of prosciutto pizza. Through her Madison, Wisconsin-based food blog, Things I Made Today, Vicky shares her fresh, whole food, from scratch recipes that are influenced by cultures and cuisines around the world. She admits her prosciutto pizza came about by accident, a very appetizing accident.
In her recipe for Prosciutto, Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Gorgonzola Pizza with an Egg On Top, Vicky omits pizza sauce and tops pizza dough with Asiago cheese and slices of prosciutto. Next, its layered with red onions and crimini mushrooms that have been cooked down in tangy balsamic vinegar. Then, it’s sprinkled with gorgonzola cheese just before two eggs are cracked and draped over the center of the pizza. Once it’s baked, the sunny yellow yolks and creamy egg whites make it as stunning as it is delectable.
Many traditional foods have seen their fair share of cultural fusion, and pizza is no exception. Occasionally, this fusion of flavors in pizza-making produces a combination of cultural ingredients that is completely unexpected, but too intriguing not to try.
Julie Park masters this type of combination by blending Italian and Korean staples in her Kimchi Prosciutto Pizza. On her Philadelphia-based food blog, KimchiChick, Julie creates simple recipes using Korean ingredients, most often kimchi. She advocates that kimchi serves well as a pizza topping. Julie writes, “The garlic-y spice and acidity of the kimchi just works with the ooey gooey cheese of the pizza.”
To make her pizza even more creative she includes gochujang in her tomato sauce. It is a Korean fermented chili paste that adds a distinct spicy, smoky flavor. Once coated in her special sauce, the pizza dough is topped with grated Parmesan and cubed mozzarella cheeses. Next it’s dotted with bite-size pieces of kimchi and covered in a layer of prosciutto. Thinly sliced scallions add the finishing touch with a gentle pop of green. It’s an addicting combination of salty, spicy, and smoky flavor.
Even the most steadfast pizza purest must admit that these inventive pizzas are worth exploring. The idea of zesty lemon, sweet honey, rich egg, and tangy kimchi reveal the versatility of prosciutto as a pizza topping. They open the opportunity to balance and complement its familiar salty flavor and chewy bite with something extra special. Whether you choose to keep things simple or to cross cultural boundaries, keep an open mind to the potential of prosciutto and experiment with these creative examples.
San Daniele and Lemon Pizza by Brit + Co
Makes: 1 personal pizza
Flour or cornmeal for dusting
4 ounces pre-made pizza dough (about the size of your fist)
3 slices prosciutto di San Daniele
1 Meyer lemon, thinly sliced
1 handful arugula
1/2 cup Italian cheese blend (we used Provolone, Asiago, Parmigiano, Fontina)
3 ounces fresh Mozzarella cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and place a cast iron skillet inside.
Lay a piece of parchment or wax paper on a flat surface. Dust with flour or cornmeal. Gently stretch the dough into a circle about the size of your cast iron skillet.
Remove skillet from the oven and place on the stove. Heat over medium heat and gently place the stretched crust inside. Cook for two to three minutes, turn and cook for another two minutes. Reduce heat to low.
Top with fresh mozzarella, four-cheese blend, prosciutto, and lemon. Bake for 12 minutes at 350 degrees. Let cool slightly and top with arugula.
Drizzle with a touch of olive oil and serve!
Brooklyn Hot Honey Pie by Ken Forkish
Makes: one 12-inch pizza
1 dough ball (for 12-inch pizza)
90 grams (3 ounces) low-moisture whole-milk mozzarella
15 to 20 grams (1⁄4 to 1⁄3 cup) Pecorino Romano cheese
100 grams (1⁄3 cup plus 1 teaspoon) tomato sauce
20 grams (2⁄3 ounce) Quick Pickled Onions (recipe follows; optional)
35 grams (1 1⁄4 ounces) prosciutto, thinly sliced
A drizzle of honey
1. If you use a dough recipe that calls for refrigeration, remove your dough ball from the refrigerator about 60 to 90 minutes before baking pizza. Put your pizza stone on an upper rack in your oven no more than 8 inches below the broiler. Preheat the oven to 550°F (290°C) for 45 minutes.
2. Use a box grater’s large holes to grate the mozzarella. Use the grater’s smaller holes to grate the Pecorino Romano cheese.
3. Set up your pizza assembly station. Give yourself about 2 feet of width on the countertop. Moderately flour the work surface. Position your wooden peel next to the floured area and dust it lightly with flour.
Have the sauce, cheese, onions, prosciutto, and honey at hand. Switch the oven to broil 10 minutes before loading the pizza.
4. To shape the pizza, put the dough ball on the floured work surface and flip to coat both sides moderately with white flour. Transfer the disk of pizza dough to the peel. Run your hands
around the perimeter to relax it and work out the kinks.
5. Top the pizza dough with the tomato sauce, then the grated pecorino, followed by the grated mozzarella. Layer the pickled onions evenly over the mozzarella. Turn off the broiler, then gently slide the pizza onto the pizza stone. Close the oven door and change the oven setting to bake at 550°F (290°C). Bake for 5 minutes, until the rim is golden. Change the oven setting from bake to broil and let the pizza cook until the cheese is melted and the crust is golden with spots of brown and a few small spots of char, about 1 more minute. Use tongs or a fork to slide the pizza from the pizza steel or stone onto a large plate. Top the hot pizza with a layering of the coppa or prosciutto and then drizzle lightly with honey. Serve whole or sliced with chile flakes as a condiment.
Quick Pickled Onions
Makes: Enough for 4 to 5 pizzas
1 1⁄2 red, yellow, or white onions, thinly sliced
240 grams (1 cup) vinegar
235 grams (1 cup) water
1 1⁄2 cloves garlic
1 gram (1⁄2 teaspoon) mustard seed
1⁄2 dried hot chile
1 gram (1⁄2 teaspoon) dill seed
35 grams (2 tablespoons) salt
1. Pack the sliced onions into one 16-ounce glass jar. Combine the remaining ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Pour the hot brine over the onions, covering them completely.
2. Refrigerate overnight before using; this will hold in the fridge for several weeks.
Prosciutto, Caramelized Onion, Mushroom, and Gorgonzola Pizza with an Egg on Top by Vicky Cassidy
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
½ pound crimini mushrooms, quartered
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1 pound ready to bake pizza dough
¾ cup asiago cheese, shredded
2 ounces prosciutto
¾ cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1. Preheat oven to 500F.
2. In a medium sized saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add red onion and cook until slightly translucent. Stir in mushrooms and cook until they release their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in balsamic vinegar and cook for additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.
3. Stretch pizza dough into a thin 11 to 12-inch round or large rectangle with your fingers. Transfer dough to a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
4. Sprinkle dough with asiago cheese, then top with prosciutto slices. Top with onion and mushroom mixture, then add gorgonzola cheese.
5. Pull out top oven rack and place baking sheet on top. Crack eggs into center of pizza before pushing the rack in.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until whites have set and cheese has melted.
Kimchi San Daniele Pizza by Julie Park
28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
2 Tbsp gochujang*, Korean fermented chili paste
1 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 cloves garlic, grated
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1 medium onion, peeled, split in half (1 cup)
1 tsp sugar
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
¼ pound cubed mozzarella cheese
¼ cup kimchi chopped into bite size pieces
thin sliced prosciutto
2 scallions thinly sliced
1. Place pizza stone on top shelf of oven and preheat to 500 degrees
2. Meanwhile make sauce – Pour tomatoes and liquid in food processor with gochujang. Process until pureed and set aside
3. Combine butter and oil on medium low heat and add oregano, garlic, and pinch of salt. Stir frequently to prevent garlic from browning, approx 2 minutes. Add tomato gochujang puree and onion halves.
4. Reduce heat to lowest setting so bubbles barely break surface
5. Stir occasionally until sauce reduces by half, about 40 minutes
6. Discard onions, season with salt.
7. Cool and seal in air tight container or freezer for up to 2 weeks
8. Dust flour on bamboo peel and roll out dough directly on top of it (this will make the transfer into the oven so much easier!) into 12 inch circle, keeping crust ¼ inch thick (See note)
9. Brush EVOO on rolled out dough
10. Ladle 3-4 Tbsp of sauce on dough and evenly spread leaving ½ inch crust un sauced
11. Sprinkle parmesan cheese
12. Lay on several cubes of mozzarella
13. Squeeze excess kimchi liquid with hands or paper towels and evenly spread on dough
14. Lay on several pieces of prosciutto, then scallions, and drizzle olive oil and parmesan cheese
15. Carefully transfer to pizza stone
16. Cook for 6-8 minutes or until crust is crispy and brown
The sauce recipe makes enough for two 12-inch pizzas. Any leftovers can be sealed and used up to two weeks. It also makes a great pasta sauce!
For the dough, make sure to generously flour your hands and the peel. Start with a ball and flatten from the center using palm. Continue to work from center outwards, thinning out the dough with your fingers and palm. This creates a thicker crust. If you like your pizza thin, you can use a rolling pin
* Gochujang is available in the international section of their supermarket or at an Asian supermarket. For a non-smoky substitution, 2 tablespoons of tomato paste. Dried red chili flakes and smoked paprika might make an okay sub with some of the flavor, but it will lack the fermented tang.
Pizza in 15 Minutes and a Crispy Crust? Yes, Please! (Proscuitto and Lemon Pizza) – Brit + Co – http://www.brit.co/skillet-pizza/
Kimchi Prosciutto Pizza – KimchiChick (Julie Park) – http://www.kimchichick.com/kimchi-prosciutto-pizza/
Prosciutto Caramelized Onion, Mushroom, and Gorgonzola Pizza with an Egg On Top – Things I Made Today (Vicky Cassidy) http://www.thingsimadetoday.com/2015/06/05/prosciutto-caramelized-onion-mushroom-and-gorgonzola-pizza-with-an-egg-on-top/
Brooklyn Hot Honey Pie – Ken Forkish – Elements of Pizza (Ten Speed Press, 2016) owner of Ken’s Artisan Pizza in Portland, Oregon.
Author bio: Lori Rice is a California-based writer, photographer and nutritional scientist. Her passion for exploring the culture and science behind food and drink inspires her work and world travel. She shares her recipes, photos, food stories and travel adventures on her blog, FakeFoodFree.com.