Potato Pizza with Artichokes
Pizza di Patate e Carciofi
This is not a dish commonly found in restaurants but more often prepared in homes and is as rustic as it gets. Sprucing up a dish like this to look fabulous is a challenge but the flavours and textures will not let you down. The southern Italian heritage comes through with the Scamorza cheese, which tends to resemble mozzarella but is firmer as it has less moisture. The flavour of Scamorza also has it’s own unique nuttiness and a pique that mozzarella does not. If you cannot find Scamorza at your deli, a good mozzarella will do but remember that Scamorza is saltier and earthier so the overall experience will be different. One thing to make sure of is that you do not have a punchy cheese that will compete with the artichokes for flavour. Scamorza is also stringy when it melts so you will get the same cheesy stretch when pulling it apart.
Now calling this a pizza will be hard for some traditionalists to accept. It has no pizza dough or topping and does not even end up looking like a pizza, but this is what it is called in the south of Italy and I am not offering an argument.
Once again, it is made up of a few ingredients to keep it simple and you probably have most of the ingredients in your kitchen already. The original recipe calls for potato and Scamorza. I added artichokes to see how they well they combine and there is a beautiful subtlety against the background of the potato but can only be discerned if the cheese does not dominate. There is also the addition of a grated cheese, which in modern recipes, tends to be Grana Padano (a northern cheese) but people who are true to their local area will choose a local cheese.
Ingredients ( serves 8 )
6 large potatoes
250g / 9 Oz of Scamorza
50g /180 Oz of grated pecorino or Grana Padano
25g / 90 Oz of butter
1 clove of garlic
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Place the Scamorza in a food processor and blend until the cheese becomes crumbly.
Once it is evenly crumbly remove from the processor and set aside.
Peel the potatoes and place into a large pot of cold water.
Add some salt to the water and bring to the boil.
Meanwhile clean and prepare the artichokes.
Cut the artichokes into half and then slice.
Place them directly into lemon water.
In a heavy based saucepan, heat a clove of garlic in a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
Heat the garlic til it is golden and remove from the oil.
Drain the artichokes of the lemon water and place into the pan and toss on a moderate heat for 5-10 minutes.
Add a little water to the pan and allow the artichokes to cook til slightly tender.
Season to taste.
If the water dries out you can add a little more until they are tender.
Test to see if the potatoes are cooked by piercing one with a sharp pointed knife. If it enters easily, remove them from the heat and drain them.
Once the potatoes are drained they can be blended in a food processor.
It is a good idea to do this two at a time.
They will blend into a paste like consistency.
Crack the eggs into the food processor with the potato and add the grated pecorino or Grana Padano.
Blend once more until you have a homogeneous mixture.
Season to taste.
Grease a 30cm round high edged cake tray with butter. I used a heavy pan, which could be put into an oven.
Sprikle the buttered pan with bread crumbs and ensure the entire buttered surface is covered with breadcrumbs.
Shake off any excess and discard.
Now place half the potato mixture into the pan and spread evenly to make what will be the base of your pizza
This is made easier if you are handling the potato mixture with wet hands or a wet spatula.
Add the crumbly Scamorza and spread evenly over the base leaving a 1cm border around the edge.
Put the artichokes you have cooked on top of this crumbly cheese and spread evenly.
Use the remaining half of the potato mixture to cover the pizza. Spread it evenly over the cheese and seal the top with this mixture.
Flatten it out with a wet spatula or with a wet hand.
Sprinkle with a handful of bread crumbs and cover evenly.
Cut a dozen little knobs of butter and place on top of the pizza.
Put into a pre-heated oven at 200 degrees Celsius / 390 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or until the tops turns golden.
Remove from the oven and allow to settle for 5-10 minutes before slicing.