To Fry For
This deep golden, light, puffy crust is complimented beautifully by a bright tomato sauce, pools of the freshest mozzarella, Grana Padano cheese, and fresh basil. The crust takes on a new level of savoriness from the frying, and the texture becomes extraordinarily light and airy while retaining the perfect element of chew.
Either you can follow this recipe to make your own milky-good mozz, like Giulio does, or you can buy Fior di Latte or fresh mozzarella from your favorite cheese shop, Italian deli, or grocery store. Steer clear from mozz that is packaged in liquid, otherwise things may get a little too wet on top of your pizza.
After stretching the pizza dough into a 10 inch round, make holes in the dough with the tips of your fingers. Puncture the dough everywhere except where you want the cornicione to form. The holes will prevent the dough from ballooning and over-puffing when you fry it.
Into the Fryer
Giulio fries the dough for roughly 40 seconds total in a deep fryer, turning it over once to get an even color and doneness. For those of you who aren't lucky enough to own a deep fryer, (I've always dreamed of having one for those "I just gotta fry a twinkie" moments), bring out your largest and deepest cast-iron pan. Fill the pan with vegetable oil (sunflower is best) about 4 inches deep, and bring the oil to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Carefully drop the dough into the oil.
Forming the Cornicione
If you have a spider strainer, like the one shown here, use it to press down the center of the dough so that the cornicione puffs and becomes more prominent while the center remains relatively thin. If you don't have a spider, you can get creative and find another kitchen gadget to use to the same effect. After 20 to 30 seconds, or when the dough has turned slightly golden, flip the dough and continue to cook for approximately 10 to 20 seconds more. The total frying time should be a little under 1 minute.
Once you take the dough out of the fryer, drain the oil off. Place the dough into a heavy pan like the one Giulio used, shown here. Spread a thin, even layer of tomato sauce over the center of the pizza. Giulio makes his simple but vibrant tomato sauce by hand-crushing canned, whole San Marzano tomatoes and simply adding salt to taste.
Next, top the dough with hand-torn mozzarella. The mozzarella that Giulio makes in-house is more reminiscent of super fresh tasting, milky Fior di Latte. When tearing, strive for fairly large pieces of mozzarella and do the rustic scatter; in other words, don't be too concerned if the whole pizza is covered with mozz and if the pieces of mozz are equal in size. Scatter whole, fresh basil leaves over the tomato sauce and mozzarella.
Finally, sprinkle grated Grana Padano cheese over the crust. Now, into the oven!
Into the Fire
This baby goes into a 950 to 1000 degree Acunto pizza oven. Hmm...you don't have one of those at home? Your oven will work just fine, but make sure it is at the highest temperature possible. For this second cooking of the pizza, we are looking for some of the oil to evaporate, the interior of the crust to fully cook, and the cheese to melt. Whereas Giulio places the pizza in the oven for a mere 30 seconds, you will probably need to leave it in for another four to five minutes, or until the cheese in melted and the crust is a nice golden brown.
Remove your pie from the oven and experience a fried pizza revelation.