Meaty slices of chewy, house-made salami picante share the stage with cavolo nero, similar to kale in texture and flavor. A drizzle of spicy Calbrian chile oil packs just enough heat to give the pizza an added dimension but doesn't drown out the rest of the toppings. But you want to learn how to make this bad boy, right? Next slide!
Name of the Game
Grab yourself a bunch of cavolo nero (or black cabbage, if you will). In NYC, where Pulino's is located, it's in season right about now. That means it'll be sweeter. (If you’re buying cavolo nero earlier in the season, throw it in the freezer to make it taste sweeter and more flavorful.) Strip the leaves off the stem with your hand, and blanch the leaves in boiling water until just about softened, about 5 minutes. Be careful not to cook it too long, or "hammer the cavolo nero," as Liu would say.
Shock and Chop
Quickly shock the now-blanched cavolo nero in a bath of ice water. Squeeze the water out of the leaves. (At this point, it will look like what you see here). Now roughly chop the cavolo nero and it season with salt.
The Heat Goes On
Now it’s time to make the Calabrian chile oil, which is drizzled atop the cooked pizza. You can buy Calabrian chiles dried and in olive oil from an Italian store or grocery. Heat olive oil in a pan until hot but not smoking. Drop the destemmed chiles into the oil and sauté for a minute or two. Pour the olive oil with the chilis into a blender or food processor and purée. Now you have some seriously addictive chile oil to drizzle all over your cavolo nero pizza.
Find some milky-fresh mozzarella. The guys at Pulino’s use Lioni, but feel free to use whatever mozzarella tickles your fancy. Tear the mozzarella into small pieces and spread a handful of mozzarella out over the crust. Next, sprinkle a handful of grated pecorino Romano over the crust. Make sure to place more of the cheese closer to the outer crust and less in the middle, as the cheese has the tendency to slide into the center as the pizza cooks.
Grate thin shavings of raw garlic onto the pizza, being careful to hit all of the dough with a little garlic love.
Seal the Deal
Scatter the chopped cavolo nero over the pizza dough. Now time for the salami picante. Pulino’s makes its own salami picante in house with beef, Calabrian chile powder, chile paste, fennel seeds, oregano, and red wine. You don't have to go that far; just find some at a good Italian salumeria. (Don't have one near you? Order it online from Salumeria Biellese or Molinari.) Arrange about 12 slices of the salami on the dough.
Into the Fire
This baby cooks for about two and a half minutes in a 726°F wood-burning oven until the bottom is a bit charred and blisters appear on the crust. For your rendition, whatever home oven you’re working with will be perfect. (Have you tried the Skillet-Broiler Method yet?) Drizzle on some of the hot oil just after it comes out of the oven.